Earthquakes strike most of the Philippines
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - April 25, 2019 - 12:00am

I was reading my Philippine STAR news and preparing to go to my office after getting my coffee cup in Starbucks at the 4th floor of the Ayala Center when the guy sitting in front of me suddenly stood up making me think that his movement caused my chair to move. But it was then I realized that we were experiencing an earthquake, which felt like a 3.0 on the Richter scale. The building swayed around 30 seconds and stopped. I later learned that Cebu City was feeling the effects of a larger earthquake that struck Eastern Samar in San Julian town which the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said was a 6.2 magnitude earthquake.

The epicenter of this earthquake was also felt in Tacloban City and Catbalogan City. The Phivolcs report also said that an intensity IV was also felt in Masbate, Legaspi and Sorsogon. A couple of hours earlier my Quake App recorded also an earthquake in Surigao. With these earthquakes affecting the Visayan islands, it is worrisome that a bigger quake might be coming our way, but certainly it was the first time I realized that the whole country was experiencing earthquakes in two days.

In the meantime, we learned that the epicenter of last Monday’s magnitude 6.1 earthquakes was in Castillejos, Zambales, but as Phivolcs seismology chief Renato Solidum said the biggest damage was recorded in the neighboring province of Pampanga because it sits on soft sediment. The same is true in Porac, Pampanga, which saw the collapse of a four-story grocery store because it also sits on soft sediment.

What was worrisome was that Clark International Airport had to be shut down due to damage in the terminal building. The latest we heard from the news is that 16 people were reported killed in Pampanga, including five in collapsed Chuzon Supermarket in Porac town. Also three children died when a portion of their house walls collapsed. That quake though far from Metro Manila, shook many high-rise buildings.

With Clark International Airport closed, this means so many domestic and international flights using Clark International had to be cancelled. Cebu Pacific Air sent and emailed advisory that at least 12 flights have been cancelled in Clark International. To travellers, this only means more flights through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport would get further delayed because some of these flights have to be rescheduled there. Hopefully the Manila Airport Authority should look forward to what the future holds if more earthquakes would disturb our main airports.

Meanwhile, Engr. Ronaldo Ison, vice president of the Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines (ASEP), said that most buildings in the nation’s capital appear to be equipped to withstand earthquakes as most of them were constructed well. The only worrisome photo I saw was that building in Binondo whose swimming pool water on the top floor fell to the ground. We take comfort that Phivolcs Director Solidum allayed fears that the quake called “Big One,” a hypothetical magnitude 7.2 earthquake in the West Valley Fault, did not happen last Monday. But let’s not be too complacent but rather be prepared for the worst.

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Talking about disturbing news, way back in 2016, we reported that Cebu City was number eight in the Super Cities ranking by Tholons, while Manila was able to maintain the number two slot. Years ago, I met and interviewed Avinash Tholons when he came to Cebu City because of the remarkable growth we were having. I was taken aback by this recent news Tholons Survey had published on Cebu City.

Years back Tholons had a world map and we were so proud that our main competitors were the cities of India and no one else, which is why Cebu City was able to achieved a great result over the other rival cities. How times have changed…Cebu City today is in close rivalry with Krask’ow City in Germany (11th), Buenos Aires, Argentina (10th) and Singapore at 9th place. Cebu City further slipped in the Super Cities ranking by Tholons for 2019, from hitting 11th place in 2018, it dropped to 12th place this year.

As Cebu IT-BPM Organization (CIB.O) managing director Wilfredo Saa Jr. said, “The list is becoming more competitive and other cities are catching up fast on digital adoption and the startup activities.” Unless the BPM Organization analyzes where Cebu City has gone down…I’m afraid when next year’s survey comes, Cebu City might just move further away. This is not good news for Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña who is seeking reelection next month.

According to Vashistha, Tholons chairman and chief executive officer, “Intelligent Automation, Machine Learning, Cognitive Computing and Applications moving to cloud is transforming businesses and the services industry. Tomorrow’s workforce will be a digital workforce at scale, consisting of digital workers and human beings working together.”

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