Earthquake, typhoon, and other calamities
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - April 30, 2019 - 12:00am

A few years ago – I think four to be exact – we had a series of earthquakes in Manila that shocked everyone into trying to be better prepared in case the “Big One” hit. People tried to understand what to do whenever an earthquake hit, learned the best safety protocols, and prepared disaster plans and “Go” bags for emergencies including basic necessities like food, medicine, and important documents.

Additionally, companies and families made contingency plans. These plans included what to do in case they were separated, where to go, how to find one another. It was, quite frankly, very scary to talk about but it was necessary because it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Companies and businesses also created disaster preparedness plans which included safety contingencies for their people and business continuity strategies for their work. This also included checking into the safety features of their buildings and ensuring that their place of work was as safe as possible.

I’d like to think that the government also took the time to go over their national earthquake response plans and make adjustments and arrangements as needed. How to continue governance in case of emergency and how to help the most people and keep lines of communication and relief goods distribution open and the emergency services functioning.

Everyone was slightly on edge worrying about the potential damage a big earthquake could do to such a densely populated city like Manila. We all know that the potential for catastrophe is huge and despite all the efforts made to prepare there was really nothing we could do about old infrastructure that is not up to scratch or areas in the city where people are packed in like sardines. As far as these things we go – all we could do was pray.

That was years ago – and while a big earthquake did not hit us then (thank goodness), it could still hit us now. Just recently – amidst the crazy election chaos – a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Zambales province and sent tremors all the way to Manila. People were quite literally shaken and those in high level condominiums and buildings, in particular, felt the full impact. It was quite scary and buildings were evacuated while city-wide warnings were issued.

Unfortunately despite all the forward planning, the earthquake caused at least over 11 fatalities. Several people were crushed to death when a wall in a four-story supermarket collapsed and several others were pinned down by debris in other areas near the epicenter. Here in Manila there were some signs of the destruction as well and offices and schools called off work and classes to inspect their buildings and ensure everything was safe before welcoming people back.

I think that level of caution is important as things can easily go wrong in one split second. The day after the earthquake hit Zambales another hit Samar just as bad. And for those watching the news and keeping updated with the latest reports from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology they noticed several smaller quakes continued to rock the country all of last week and the weekend.

It’s very scary. According to Phivolcs the quakes appear to be unconnected but the fact that so many of them are happening one after the other should give us pause. It’s the perfect time to look back at those disaster plans again and make sure they are updated and make sure our emergency bags still have enough supplies. After all, four years is a long time and it’s understandable to have gotten a bit lax since then. Now that we are reminded, once again, to be on our toes. It’s time to replace our expired canned goods and medicines and update all necessary documents.

It’s never too early to be prepared. After all, the Philippines sits on an intersection of tectonic plates and it’s not far-fetched for us to feel a lot of seismic activity. Being in the ‘Ring of Fire” should always remind us that we are prone to disasters like earthquakes, volcanic activity, and of course – typhoons and we should never become too complacent when it comes to being prepared. Just because we haven’t experienced any activity doesn’t mean we won’t, it just means we have been lucky so far.

Trash talk

It doesn’t take a genius to know that talk is cheap and promises are often not kept. Being a voter here in the Philippines should have already opened our eyes to that stark reality. So, despite other issues I may have with the president, I think he was spot on when he set a two-week deadline for Canada to pick up the garbage they sent to our country. Honestly – why would they even do that to begin with? We are not a garbage dump, and for them to treat us like one is disrespectful to say the least (and illegal).

I believe President Duterte has everyone’s support as far as this issue is concerned and the Canadian ambassador was most likely quite rattled by the remarks the president made regarding the garbage removal. Hopefully they finally come to their senses and address this issue. There is no other solution but removing the garbage which they illegally sent here posthaste.

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