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The Philippines, though blessed with scenic spots and abundant natural resources, is also a country prone to natural disasters. Aside from an average number of 19 to 20 tropical cyclones every year, it also falls within the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Stretching around 25,000 miles, the Pacific Ring of Fire is an area where most volcanic and seismic activities occur. In fact, it includes more than 450 of the most active volcanoes located underwater. The province of Bohol, struck by the most recent strong quake two years ago, is one of the most seismically active areas in the country.
The Bohol Quake in Retrospect
At 8:12 A.M. on October 15, 2013, a powerful earthquake shook Central Visayas, particularly Bohol. At magnitude 7.2, the quake had a focal depth of 12 kilometers, its epicenter plotted near the boundary of the municipalities of Sagbayan and Catigbian in Bohol. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the earthquake produced strong ground shaking, liquefaction and earthquake-induced landslides.
Landslides were reported in the municipalities of Boljoon, Aloguinsa, Argao, Cebu and also in the municipalities of Clarin, Lila, Corella, Balilihan, Alicia, Loboc, Bilar, Cortes, Dimiao, Antequera, Loon and Danao. Meanwhile, based on the reports from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), hundreds died and were injured.
More than 600 thousand families or about 3 million persons were affected in the 6 provinces of Region VI and VII. Thousands of houses were damaged in Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, IloIlo, Siquijor and Guimaras. Aside from the houses, other infrastructure like churches, government and public buildings, schools, hospitals— along with seaports, airports, bridges and roads, were also impaired.
Despite the disaster, the people’s faith remained unshaken as masses were held in temporary chapels. In 2014, Panahon TV team had the chance to visit the survivors. We had the opportunity to listen to stories brimming of hope and the “bayanihan” spirit. Survivors were able to receive support from all directions– from the church, both local and international government and non-government organizations,which helped them rise from the catastrophe.
Is Manila next?
Two years have passed and the memory of the earthquake stays especially for those who experienced it. But as we continue to move forward, efforts for disaster preparedness in the Philippines continue to strengthen.
PHIVOLCS has warned that the Magniture 7.2 quake that jolted Visayas in 2013 may also happen in Metro Manila, due to the possible movement of the West Valley Fault.
As part of the advocacy of making every Filipino disaster-ready, earthquake drills are being done, where the basic method “Duck, Cover and Hold” is practiced and preached. People are also being taught how to prepare go bags, and how to assess their homes to determine and prevent possible hazards.
Today, as we remember the powerful Bohol earthquake, let us not forget the lessons this catastrophe offered, especially on disaster preparedness. Unlike tropical cyclones, earthquakes are not forecasted. They come like thieves in the night, so it’s best to make sure they don’t rob us our lives.
Ensuring an Earthquake-Resilient Home