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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.


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Ensuring an Earthquake-Resilient Home

Why Bring a Bug Out Bag?

Preparing for Huge Quakes

Earthquake Survival quite literally begins in your own home. To ensure safety against tremors, it’s important to assess your living space to know what types of repair and reinforcement it needs to be quake-resilient.

You can begin your home inspection by examining two major factors: its content and structure.

Securing House Contents

It is important to identify the items that can possibly move, break or fall when a quake jolts your house.


Things to remember:

1. Secure hanging fixtures on the wall and ceiling.
2. Strap down hazardous electrical components.
3. To prevent tipping, heavy and tall objects such as appliances and cabinets must be anchored or braced using a flexible fastener like a nylon strap and a hook.
4. Place the fragile, large and weighty objects on the lower shelves of cabinets.
5. Lock the cabinets if possible.
6. Rearrange large things including framed pictures and mirrors away from seats and beds to prevent injury to occupants when ground shaking occurs.
7. Ensure elastic connector on gas stoves or appliances.
8. Check the accessibility of fire exits.
9. Know when and how to shut off utility lines.

Checking Home Integrity

According to the Metro Manila Earthquake Reduction Study (MMEIRS), 38.3% of residential buildings in Mega Manila might be damaged when the Valley Fault System moves. 339,800 of them will be partly disrupted while 168,300 will be heavily dented. Unlike other hazards, quakes can transpire anytime without warning, bringing secondary dangers such as fire, liquefaction and ground rupture among others.

This study led PHIVOLCS in coming up with a checklist that homeowners can use in assessing how their Concrete Hollow Block (CHB) house will fare in the event of a strong quake. This checklist is applicable to 1- and 2-storey houses, and a must for houses built before 1992 when the earthquake resistance standards were introduced to the Building Code.

house check phivolcs

Evaluation will be based from the tally of scores from the 12-point checklist:
0 – 7: Assessment is disturbing and needs consultation with experts as soon as possible.
8 – 10: House requires strengthening and expert consultation.
11 – 12: Seems safe but needs confirmation from experts.

PHIVOLCS recommends consulting with a licensed architect or civil engineer and a licensed contractor for official assessments. Aside from further renovation, checking your foundation for cracks must be done whenever there are interferences— natural or manmade— that happened in your area.

Building a Quake Resilient House

1. Have a licensed civil engineer or architect supervise the building of your house to ensure compliance to Building and Structural Codes.
2. Construct a regular-shaped house on a rock or stiff soil. Avoid building structures on muddy and reclaimed lands.
3. Use 6-inch thick concrete hollow blocks.
4. Vertical bars should be 100 mms. in diameter and must only have a 40-cm gap in between.
5. Horizontal bars must be 10 mms. thick and spaced between 3 layers of CHB.
6. Walls more than 3 meters wide have to be reinforced.
7. May need to add more foundation.
8. Use light materials on gable walls. Gable wall is the triangular area that connects the roof and the wall. Or better yet, build a flat roof house.


The Ridge of High Pressure Area remains to be the dominant weather system over Luzon. Based on PAGASA’s weekly outlook, it is likely to prevail until the end of May.

This weather system presents hot and humid weather conditions in the Philippines. Skies will be partly cloudy to cloudy with chances of localized thunderstorms in the afternoon or evening.

The weather bureau advises everyone to bring umbrellas, wear light-colored clothes and to drink water often for hydration. PAGASA also encourages Filipinos to monitor weather updates.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Red Cross will conduct a metro-wide earthquake drill from 3pm to 8pm today.

This initiative serves to teach the people what to do when an earthquake hits and where to seek refuge.

Here are the chosen schools transected by the West Valley Fault wherein the earthquake drills will be held:



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Photo credit:

Exactly four years ago, the people of Northeast Japan experienced the darkest and longest six minutes of their lives as a 9.0 magnitude earthquake shook their homes, setting off a chain of catastrophic events that killed 15,703 people and destroyed $300 billion worth of properties.

Let us remember the key events that unfolded on those fateful days, which began on March 11, 2011:

March 11, Friday, 2:46 PM One of the most powerful earthquakes shook Northeast Japan, prompting the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to issue a tsunami warning from Japan to the U.S. west coast. The tsunami alert included more than 50 countries, including the Philippines.
Just within an hour after the quake, a tsunami with an estimated height of 30 feet pounded over Japan’s coastal areas. Residential establishments, commercial buildings, and even cars and trains were washed away. Vital infrastructures, such as bridges, roads, and communication towers were also destroyed. Dead people were scattered on the streets.

8:15 PM The tsunami that ensued after the quake posed a threat to 54 nuclear power plants across Japan, urging the Japanese Government to declare an emergency situation for the power plants near Sendai, 180 miles from Tokyo.

10:29 PM The cooling system of the Fukisihima nuclear plant ceased operating, spreading fear of radiation leaks. Thousands of people living within the mile-and-a-half radius of the plant were ordered to evacuate.

March 12, Saturday, 2:06 AM The radiation level in the Fukishima nuclear plant began to rise. In less than an hour, the government confirmed a radiation leak. An explosion occurred in a building housing one of the plant’s reactors.

March 13, Sunday, Energy rationing had to be implemented due to the shutting down of nuclear power stations. Millions of residents were without power and water.

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Photo credit:

March 14, Monday, A second explosion occurred at the Fukishima nuclear power plant.

In a report dated February 10, 2015, reported 15,890 confirmed deaths due to the earthquake and its related incidents.

In another report dated March 9, 2015, USA Today stated that radiation levels remain as much as 10 times above normal, resulting to nearly a quarter-million displaced Japanese. Hundreds of square miles forest, farmlands and settlement remain uninhabitable.

Recovery Efforts

The wise Confucius once said that “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop”, a saying that’s synonymous to Japan’s current efforts.

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Photo credit:

Despite the slow pace of recovery, Japan continues to strive harder, seen with the construction of 70 new sea walls (90-meters wide, 15-meters high) that started in Kesennuma in the Miyagi Prefecture. This was authorized by the central government to protect the northeastern coastline.

From 40%, the operation of fish processing businesses in five (5) hardest-hit prefectures has doubled to 80%.

Considerable progress has also been reported in areas affected by radiation. Clean-up efforts have reduced the levels of radioactivity around the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Hospitals, nursery homes and some vital institutions are either finished or nearing completion according to Japanese Red Cross.

The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake reminded us that even a highly developed country such as Japan, with all its advanced technology, was still no match against nature’s fury.

Nevertheless, four years after the disaster, the Japanese people’s discipline and tenacity prevail as they continue to recover and rebuild their communities.

The northeast monsoon is still the dominant weather system inside the PH boundary.

Today, the islands of Batanes, Calayan and Babuyan will have partly cloudy skies with light precipitation. Meanwhile the rest of the country including Metro Manila will have favorable weather conditions, however PAGASA suggests continuous monitoring as isolated rains and thunderstorms are expected to happen within the day.

The state weather bureau is also monitoring the progress of El Nino. According to PAGASA Meteorologist Buddy Javier, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a reported weak El Nino. However, the full details regarding the matter will be discussed today at the conference to be held at PAGASA.

MTSAT Image from PAGASA.
MTSAT Image from PAGASA.

March 11, 2011: The Great East Japan Quake and Tsunami

Exactly four years ago, the people of Northeast Japan experienced the darkest and longest six minutes of their lives as a 9.0 magnitude earthquake shook their homes, setting off a chain of catastrophic events that killed 15,703 people and destroyed $300 billion worth of properties.

Let us remember the key events that unfolded on those fateful days, which began on March 11, 2011.

A new cloud cluster was spotted outside PAR (Philippine Area of Responsibility). According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Jori Loiz, this could intensify into a Low Pressure Area (LPA) and could possibly enter within the PAR. Continuous monitoring of the weather condition is advisable.


Meanwhile, two weather systems are still prominent with the PAR. The northeast monsoon continues to affect Luzon while the tail end of a cold front prevails in Eastern Visayas. Loiz said aside from the expected rain showers, an LPA could also be formed from the tail end of a cold front.

Today, Eastern Visayas will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers. Cagayan Valley and the provinces of Quezon, Aurora and Camarines Norte will have cloudy skies with possible light rains due to the northeast monsoon.

The rest of Luzon, including Metro Manila, may experience drizzle but generally fair weather condition is expected within 24 hours. The rest of Visayas and Mindanao can enjoy sunny weather. Residents are advised against possible localized thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Another quake hits PH

A magnitude 5.7 quake hit Mercedes, Eastern Samar yesterday at 9:29 in the evening.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said aftershocks are expected to happen. Levels of intensities were recorded due to the said quake.


The northeast monsoon or “hanging amihan” still prevails over Luzon this Monday, bringing cloudy skies with light rains over the regions of Cagayan Valley and Cordillera. Isolate cases of light rains are also expected in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon.

Eastern Visayas, CARAGA and Davao regions, on the other hand, will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers and thunderstorm, while the rest of Visayas and Mindanao can expect a fair weather condition apart from localized thunderstorms.

Strong to gale force wind is expected to affect the seaboards of Luzon and Visayas. Sea travel is risky due to the rough to very rough sea conditions generated by the strong surge of the northeast monsoon.

Meanwhile, PAGASA continues to monitor the low pressure area (LPA) outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).

PAGASA Weather Forecaster Buddy Javier says it is expected to enter PAR on Thursday. Current analysis of the forecasting models show three scenarios of what may happen to the said weather disturbance – to dissipate, to recurve or to intensify as a tropical cyclone, which would make it the first bagyo this year.

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In other news, a 4.9-magnitude earthquake was recorded 73 kms. east of Hernani in Eastern Samar at 12:07 this morning. There are no expected aftershocks or damage that may occur in the following hours, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).


It sounds like the apocalypse, but it’s true: a killer earthquake may or may not come in this lifetime, causing thousands of deaths and massive destruction in Manila. Find out what will happen when “The Big One” arrives.
Fault Finding: The Huge Earthquake that’s Waiting to Happen
The Philippines is positioned within the Pacific Ring of Fire, where high seismic activities such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. Apart from the active faults traversing the country, there are 23 active volcanoes that can also generate earthquakes.
On October 15, 2013, a 7.2 magnitude quake jolted Central Visayas, resulting into 222 deaths and destroying over 73,000 houses in less than a minute. With the seismic activity equal to the explosion of thirty-two Hiroshima atomic bombs, the provinces of Bohol and Cebu declared a state of calamity.
Greater Metro Manila Area (GMMA) is not exempt from earthquakes due to the very ripe West Valley Fault. Its 90 to 100-kilometer length crosses Rizal, Marikina, Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Muntinlupa and Laguna. Moreover, 35% of the population inhabiting the said areas lives right above this fault line.
The last recorded movement of the West Valley Fault was more than three centuries ago, in 1658. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), a fault line usually moves sometime between two hundred to four hundred years. The movement of the fault is predicted to have a horizontal friction in between plates or what geologists call an “essentially strike slip.” The anticipated killer quake has been dubbed as “The Big One,” which can produce a magnitude 7.2, putting the capital’s population of over eleven million people at risk.
If the epicenter of the major quake hits Metro Manila with an intensity of 8 or 9, three million people would need to be evacuated; an additional 18,300 may perish due to fires in 97,800 buildings throughout the metropolis; 7 bridges would collapse, and secondary hazards such as liquefaction and landslide would also pose risks.

This shows the estimated devastation for “The Big One” from the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) done by PHIVOLCS, MMDA and JICA.
This shows the estimated devastation for “The Big One” from the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) done by PHIVOLCS, MMDA and JICA.

According to the United Nations, our country may lose as much as 19 percent of its urban-produced capital in such an earthquake, suffering economic losses of more than 9 billion US dollars. While, NDRRMC projects 2.3 to 2.4 trillion pesos or 10% loss in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
As always, the key to surviving calamities is knowledge and preparedness. Here’s how you can protect yourself before, during, and after earthquakes.