A nation of disasters and calamities within the Ring of Fire

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

The term "Ring of Fire" refers to this part of the planet where 90% of the world's earthquakes and 81% of the strongest quakes that have killed thousands occur. It’s also the home of 452 volcanoes, 75% of the total number of volcanoes in the world. We are right almost in the center of this ring.

It is also called the Pacific Rim of Fire, a U-shaped belt extending from the south western tips of New Zealand passing through the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea, eastward to the west coast of Canada down to the southernmost California, and extending to the western side of South America. According to Wikipedia, all over this belt, are thousands of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, volcanic belts, and constant subterranean belt movements. Of the 25 biggest earthquakes in the last 11,700 years, 22 occurred in Ring of Fire.

The Philippines was hit by no less than ten major earthquakes but, due to space limitation, I am mentioning only four really big ones here; intensity 8 quake hit the Moro Gulf on August 16, 1976 killing 4,791 and injuring 9,928, leaving 2,280 missing. On July 16, 1990, a 7.8 quake hit Luzon and 1,621 died, more than 3,000 were injured and more than a thousand missing. Total damage amounted to P10 billion. On August 2, 1968, a 7.6 tremor hit Aurora Province killing 271 died, hurting 261, and leaving hundreds missing. We, Cebuanos will never forget the earthquake on October 15, 2013 with 7.2 intensity. It hit Cebu and Bohol and destroyed centuries-old churches. Some 222 died, eight were missing, and 796 were injured. Total damage was P4 billion.

The Philippines is also a land of typhoons, thunderstorms, hurricanes, and floods. Who can forget Ondoy that hit Luzon and its environs on September 25 to 27, 2009, killing thousands and destroying billions of properties and crops? Yolanda hit Leyte and Samar on November 7 and 8, 2013 killing 6,241 people and leaving Tacloban and Samar totally devastated. Frank hit Panay and Negros on June 18 to 23, 2008 killing 1,501 and destroying billions worth of properties. Reming devastated the Visayas on November 29 to December 1, 2006 killing 1,399 and causing too much damage in undetermined amount. Nitang hit the Visayas on August 31 to September 4, 1983 killing 1,492 and leaving so much losses in crops and houses. The worst was Haipong on October 6, 1881 where 20,000 people died.

The current disaster in Batangas may not be the last in 2020. Even as we write this piece, we are in the evacuation centers in Lemery, Taal, and Calaca, Batangas, helping the victims get food and clean water, blankets, clothing, and medicines. We are also giving free legal and psychological advice and counseling to these those experiencing trauma or who have deep emotional and psychological stress and depression. We provide music and entertainment, communication and transport facilities, and we link the victims to appropriate government agencies for their varying problems, concerns, and issues.

We are living in the Ring of Fire, and yet, our country continues to be dubbed as one of the happiest places on earth. We are resilient people and deeply religious. Our faith in God, our trust in the Santo Nino keep us alive and fighting all tribulations. Come disasters, calamities and tribulations, the Filipino soul shall remain strong and hopeful for better things to come.

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