Surviving the “Big One”

Preparation is a critical component of the path of survival. Otherwise, we are leaving the fate of our lives entirely out of our hands.

Three strong earthquakes consecutively struck the country's major islands in the past week. On 22 April (Monday), a magnitude 6.1 earthquake was felt in parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila. On 23 April (Tuesday), a magnitude 6.5 earthquake was reported in certain parts of Visayas. On 24 April (Wednesday), a magnitude 4.7 earthquake shook parts of Mindanao. As of this writing, 16 casualties have been recorded, mostly from the municipality of Porac in Pampanga, which has now been placed under a State of Calamity.

In past years, the government has taken remedial steps to prepare us for the so-called "Big One." However, these only serve as mitigating measures that can minimize the effects of an earthquake. Institutional, structural and planning solutions are required to ensure zero loss of lives and minimal damage to properties.

In the absence of long-term solutions, deaths and structural damages are inevitable. Several studies claim that there will be many casualties and damaged properties in the event of a major earthquake in Metro Manila.

Based on studies conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2003, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Metro Manila will result in no less than 500,000 casualties and about 40% of all residential buildings in Metro Manila will either be heavily or partially damaged.

Meanwhile, a Risk Analysis Project report in 2014 reveals that there would be at least 40,000 casualties in Metro Manila and its nearby provinces in the event that a magnitude 6.5 to 7.2 earthquake strikes the Greater Manila Area.

Realistically, we are individually left to fend off for ourselves. There are a number of recommended steps we can take in order to survive the so-called "Big One", such as the following:

1. Identify secure spots in your home or office/school building
2. Stay away from LPG tanks
3. Secure shelves and cabinets
4. Remove obstructions such as furniture and heavy objects which may block your exit
5. Keep a soft and hard copy list of important emergency numbers; and numbers or addresses of family, relatives and friends
6. Prepare a family earthquake emergency and evacuation plan
7. Prepare an emergency (GO) bag which contains important items such as water, food and other basic necessities

At the end of the day, what we can do is to put ourselves in the best position to survive the "Big One." Preparation is a critical component towards the path of survival. Otherwise, we are leaving the fate of our lives entirely out of our hands.

As the popular Filipino saying goes… “Nasa Diyos ang awa, Nasa tao ang gawa”

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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