5th Blog: The Earthquakes in the Philippines

This blog is not a YSEALI-experience-related, but it is interesting to share what the Philippines experienced 3 highest magnitude of earthquake last week.

Philippines is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, in the Pacific Ocean basin where numbers of earthquakes occur most of the time. As per the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOLCS), the whole country experienced almost 20 small magnitude of scattered earthquakes every day. Most Filipinos are getting used to it and activities are not even bothered when we experienced earthquake.

The photo below represents the number of earthquakes that the Philippines experienced for the past 50 years.

Photo source: Earth shaker and AGeoS

However, last week, the Mindanao region, which is located in the southernmost part of the Philippines around 1263 kilometers (785 miles) or 2 hours’ airplane flight from Metro Manila, experienced series of earthquakes. These earthquakes are caused by the movement of the tectonic plates in the area. The following are the magnitude of earthquakes that the Philippines experienced:

  • October 29, 2019 (Tuesday) – 6.6 Magnitude
  • October 30, 2019 (Wednesday) – 6.4 Magnitude
  • October 31, 2019 (Friday) – 6.5 Magnitude

These terrifying events caused catastrophic to the some of the old structures in the area mostly public facilities like houses, hotels, condominiums and even schools. Structural engineers said that the series of earthquakes weakened the structure further damaged the facilities. To secure public safety, these damaged structures were ordered to be closed for further assessment and all the local governments urged to conduct infrastructure audits to their areas.

The photos above show some of the remnants of the earthquake. (1) The façade of the hotel nearly collapsed. Photo source: JULES L. BENITEZ (MindaNews); (2&3) Condominium with 4000 residents nearly collapsed after the earthquakes. Photo source: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2902768516436021&set=pcb.2902772676435605&type=3&theater

The Preparation for “The Big One” is one of the big thing in the whole world today. According to experts, the “Big One” is a scenario of a 7.2-magnitude quake that could be triggered by movements at the Valley Fault System. So, the Philippines is not prepared for this? And are we not prepared to make our structure earthquake resilient?

Philippines already started years ago different structural stability studies and assessments for most of the vital facilities (i.e. dams, plants, treatment plants, etc.) around the country, however, since Philippines is in the 3rd world and still developing country, I am sure that problem with limited budget has been an always issue. In spite of this, the Philippine government have been proactively inviting investors from different countries and partnering to private sectors to help the Philippines not just to construct new facilities but do some retrofitting to some vital facilities.

Since I am working in a water public utility company in the Philippines, we are now on the process of making our new facilities align with the world standard for earthquake resiliency. And also, our aged facilities are now being retrofitted to withstand The Big One and to ensure the continuous water availability.

We cannot predict earthquake and disasters, however, we can prepare to mitigate, lessen and eliminate risk and loss of life.

-Patrick

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