EARTHQUAKE : Are We Ready?
By Miguel Raymundo
Many are asking why the government has not made very public a JICA study on a major earthquake shaking Metro Manila causing death to hundreds of thousands. This study describes the magnitude of damage to the capital of the country.
These questions came after the world witnessed a real life end-of-world devastation in the city of Tacloban and other towns in Leyte and Samar.
The high body count from typhoon “Haiyan” came even after the government issued warnings of effect of a super typhoon. The local government and residents prepared for the worst and many were housed in evacuation centers, most of them shoreline families.
But preparations for the worst were not enough that over ten thousand lost their lives. Why the-worst-case preparation by the locals was not enough, could be traced to national government inability to clearly explain what happens on a storm surge created by a category 5 super typhoon.
The national government was short in informing the public. The agency in charge of this in the national government is the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). PAGASA and Phivolcs are under the DOST. These two agencies are mandated to forecast and predict catastrophe and warn the public. PAGASA greatly failed on the “Haiyan” tragic visit that caused tens thousand dead and hundreds of billions of property damaged.
That Tacloban experience has raised fears on a catastrophe in the Metro Manila where over 15 million live. Tacloban City has 200 thousand inhabitants.
A category 5 super typhoon could hit Metro Manila and hundreds of thousands would perish should DOST not shape up and learn from their experience in Tacloban City.
Or a major earthquake with intensity that leveled Bohol could rock Metro Manila and DOST failing to prepare the 15 million in the metropolis.
The JICA study said casualty count will reach 113,000 should a 7.2 earthquake hit Metro Manila. The JICA report was done in 2002 to 2004 and the reported population for Metro Manila then was placed at 10 Million. Now the population has ballooned to 15 Million.
Experts said the JICA report is even a conservative estimate of damage and casualties.
Architect Felino Palafox, an authority on urban planning said in a forum at Fernandina that our building code is so outdated that require amendments to fit to requirements of safety and environment protection.
“Two meters is the required minimum limit in distance between buildings,” Palafox said adding that if this is an issue between two high rise towers, there will collision between two structures in event of an earthquake.
In the last ten years, capital investments in the country went to building of high rise condominium towers. Experts say that many of these high rise buildings are suspect in it strength against earthquake and wind gusts of the Typhoon Yolanda level.
While experts in urban planning are expressing deep concerns on people safety in the event of a major catastrophe, Phivolcs is not heard in the cacophony of fears.
OpinYon takes the side of those expressing disappointment at government halfhearted response to those warnings.
The case of sink holes being feared in Cebu and Bohol after the last 7.2 earthquake that toppled homes, buildings and churches, these warnings were dismissed as inconsequential at best or hoax at worst.
The government handling of Typhoon Yolanda has reinforced anxieties if not deepened fears among environment observes.
First the government failed to clear state its warnings on the catastrophe. Second it has promised immediate response in relief operations. Third is was the last to be able to mobilize in rescue and relief operations in affected areas in Central Philippines.
That will likely be repeated in a Metro Manila natural calamity.
The leadership of Phivolcs is on default in making public the findings of JICA and other experts like Palafox. The usual riposte of these failings is that’s how the government works.
How does the government work? In many cases technical men and scientists love numbers in technical reports not on living people in those numbers. They are fascinated by figures not warm bodies that will perish in a catastrophe. OpinYon thinks Phivocs head Renato Solidum fits into this typical mold of scientist in the government service.
DOST where Phivolcs is part is infected by this malady of heartlessness. The mother department, the PAGASA, the Phivoks,they are busy and much too concerned on small matters that feed ego if not their pockets. They live in a scientific ivory tower that is detached from the needs of the people.
They love showing their expertise in written scholarly studies, testifying in Congress and in courts as expert witnesses, but they have very little feel of the life that throbs in those places, subject of scholarly reports.
A 7.2 earthquake or a 320 KPH hurricane or an 8 meter high storm surge could bring this country to its knees should any of them hit Metro Manila and the people here are not prepared.
Senator Loren Legarda, the country’s champion on climate change called on preparing the country for a catastrophe like those that hit Bohol and Leyte and Samar. “better still give a hand in efforts to save the earth and avoid the catastrophe,” Legarda said.
WHAT IF? A Doomsday Scenario
by Frederick Fabian
WHAT if a disaster of cataclysmic proportions hits Metro Manila, home to more than 15 million Filipinos—and the seat of the nation’s capital?
Thousands of lives will be lost and casualties can run to millions. It will be a harrowing sight that will surely bring the nation to its knees. That is, if we consider the potential disasters on a grand scale, such as the recent earthquake in Bohol and typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that razed big parts of Leyte to the ground.
What if, instead of the Visayas, Yolanda took a path straight through the heart of the National Capital Region?
The resulting storm surge would drive the waters of the Laguna Lake inland and inundate the lakeside barangays of Laguna and drown millions of people. The loss of lives and damage to property would be triple the Visayas count.
What if the Marikina Valley Fault System shifted and triggered a massive earthquake? Are we ready to deal with such a scenario?
The Philippines, after all, is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of the world that is susceptible to earthquakes and volcanic activity. The island republic is also considered one of the world’s most dangerous places, because we are a constant recipient of typhoon landfalls more than any large country in the world.
As grim as it may sound, an inconvenient truth is better than a comfortable lie.
The Marikina Valley Fault System extends from San Mateo, Rizal and runs through Makati, Marikina, Parañaque, Pasig and Taguig. It has been observed by Phivolcs and other scientific experts as a potential origin of large-scale earthquakes that can reach a magnitude of 7 or higher within Metro Manila.
A possible death toll, as predicted by experts, can reach 35,000, with an estimated 120,000 injuries. The earthquake will also require the evacuation of three million people from the potential disaster areas.
In a research done by the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2004, it was revealed that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake can destroy 40% of residential buildings, fatalities numbering 114,000 and fires that will result to 18,000 more casualties.
While the eastern side of Metro Manila will suffer the brunt of the event, damage and consequential damage can affect the rest of the NCR. Dr. Norman Tungol of Phivolcs has advised that Metro residents, especially those living near the faultline, to be prepared for the worst, because earthquake prediction is not an exact science.
Aside from structural damage, another risk looming over the people of Metro Manila would be the possibility that reservoirs such as the Angat Dam would be damaged and cause flooding. Building collapse can cause electrical short circuits, petroleum and LPG leakages from storage tanks, among others, that would trigger fires, according to a report by online news site Bulatlat.com. Places susceptible to fires are Valenzuela, Caloocan, and the southern parts of Quezon City.
Newsfeeds in Facebook were filled with complaints and angry callouts about the incompetence of President Benigno Aquino III and his lack of political will in dealing with the recent typhoon. The complaints are well-placed and unquestionably valid: at the same space of the few hours when CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper was reporting on the lack of organized government efforts in Tacloban City, President Aquino was on the air with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that everything is under control despite contrary evidence.
It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that the President is being cold to the plight of the people of Leyte, if his actions in the past week after the storm is to be gauged. After all, PNoy has been distant and detached from the real-life drama happening in Tacloban and surrounding towns, preferring to do a form of remote-control governance rather than be physically present where the people are suffering, where they are mourning the dead and where the children are going hungry. That appears to be too much for his constitution.
It seems that it is not something a privileged, upper-class-raised Noynoy can handle. How can a sheltered rich boy, the scion of Philippine political icons and hacienda landlords, possibly bear the harrowing sight of devastation and desperation when it’s taking place in front of him? The crisis is far from the safety and comfort of his Malacanang office. We can just imagine that he will treat the residents of Metro Manila the same way. Humans are creatures of habit, and if anything, the President is one. He has a terrible habit of placing the blame on someone else, as if he lacks the capability to own up responsibility.
Incompetence Is Matter Of Fact
As many rational and well-informed Filipinos would tell you, Malacañang has always been incompetent where it counts. Some may dismiss it as mere cynicism and pessimism. But several counts of wrong decisions and late responses to a crisis is an indicator not just of incompetence, but of impotence. We all know that this is not the first time that the Aquino administration has shown that it is incapable of delivering in crucial times. From the 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis, the growing unemployment rate despite his claims of economic growth, the 2011 vetoing of the budget provision for disaster management, to the mishandling of the pork barrel issue, the list just goes on.
Reputable news analysts and weather experts have predicted that the NCR can become the next ground zero based on past scientific data and environmental factors. There is more than enough evidence to support the possibility that significant parts of Metro Manila can and will be subjected to massive damage that can equal that of Tacloban and nearby Leyte towns. According to former Manila Chronicle newsman and science/technology writer Alan C. Robles, “a storm like Haiyan could bring the Philippine capital to its knees.”
In his interview with MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino, the official confirmed similar concerns by saying that it will be just like Tacloban, which was decimated to the ground when Yolanda struck. Tolentino confidently stated it will just be the same, if not worse, although he noted that some structures in Manila are better built to withstand typhoons. He significantly added, “It will also cause societal disruption.”
Welcome To Floodland
Metro Manila is 638 square kilometers in area, composed of 16 cities, one municipality, and has up to around 15 million people living in it. It is surrounded by bodies of water and flood-prone areas such as Barangka in Marikina, Pasig areas near Rosario, central parts of the city of Manila (Blumentritt, Maceda, España, etc.), and parts of Roxas Boulevard in Pasay.
The NCR is practically sandwiched between Manila Bay, facing the China Sea on the west side and Laguna Lake on the southeast. Another factor to consider is the northeastern part bordering the province of Rizal.
In recent years, the mountainsides there have practically been denuded and logged to the ground, and residents in the lower parts of Antipolo City near Marikina have experienced damaging floods due to the accumulated rainwater from Rizal flowing into the river.The Angat Dam and the Pampanga river basins are also hazards to Metro Manila if a super typhoon of the same scale as Yolanda hits. In 2012, disaster management official Edgardo Ollet admitted that the dam “has cracks and needs major repairs”.
One can imagine that the combined force of incessant raining and a highly possible super typhoon is all it would take, and a deluge of epic proportions is just waiting to happen. Meanwhile Dr. Mahar Lagmay of DOST’s Project Noah was also asked by Robles, and he was positive that another super typhoon can happen in the near future. Dr. Lagmay even put it this way: “It’s Russian roulette”. It may not hit now, or any time this week, or the next, but the chances are very high that it can and will happen. Scientists do not need to reiterate those facts to us, as it is already evident in our history as a country: tropical storms are regular occurences. The sad truth is that we as a society have not learned so much from past disasters. As philosopher George Santayana would put it, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Lessons In Foresight
Pecier Decierdo, a physics teacher who works for Mind Museum and science advocacy director for civil organization Filipino Freethinkers, has provided pointers that the public should always keep in mind when it comes to handling disasters. He stated, “More storms make landfall on the Philippines than on any other large country on Earth.”
This one fact demands that the science curriculum in the country should be tailored to produce basic education graduates who understand how tropical storms roll.” According to him, allowing an inadequately informed population to live in a storm-prone country is a massive inhumanity.
A public dialogue on disaster management should be top priority, so that people will be more capable and well-informed in handling the effects of natural disasters in our lives, rather than wait for government to dictate disaster measures. Decierdo remarked, “We should talk about the weather more”. It is known that the country has an insufficient number of meteorologists, and that the public does not regard due status to meteorologists and weather scientists, which results to having underpaid and overworked PAGASA employees.
Underpaid weather specialists and undermanned and ill-equipped weather stations result to inaccurate weather forecasting, which lead to deaths and losses that could otherwise have been prevented.
Using 2009’s Ondoy devastation as basis, we can expect that a Haiyan-scale super storm will bring in not just the strongest winds, but the force of floodwaters rushing in and submerging two-story buildings. Business and commerce in the metropolis will definitely be halted. Makati’s main thoroughfares would be clogged, and being a neighbouring city to flood-prone Pasay, it just makes it worse.
Roxas Boulevard, site of Manila’s significant commercial activities and facing Manila Bay, would be the one of the most damaged for obvious reasons. Metro Manila is located in a catchbasin between Manila Bay and Laguna Lake, which means that there is no exit for excess water pouring in from both sides. According to urban planner and master architect Paolo Alcazaren, most of the drains constructed since the Spanish period have either been lost, covered up, or clogged with garbage.
A super typhoon hitting Metro Manila will definitely paralyze the country’s economy,because it will be more than the sum of the past typhoons of the last five years.
This doesn’t mean that we should just be fatalistic and embrace the apocalyptic end times, because something can actually be done.
This is where disaster experts come in. In an interview with Rappler’s Marites Vitug, Kathryn Hawley of Asia Foundation advises that it’s best to prepare for a worst-case scenario and hope that it doesn’t happen. Measures such as stockpiling of water and food, strategic assigning of resources, land use regulations, low-cost housing programs, public awareness campaigns and poverty reduction strategies can help absorb the shocking blow of an imminent catastrophe.
A super typhoon hitting Metro Manila will definitely paralyze the country’s economy,because it will be more than the sum of the past typhoons of the last five years. If not a super typhoon, the threat of the Marikina Fault System is imminent. Combine that with mounting government negligence, festering corruption, and lack of public preparedness. It is a tragedy waiting to happen, and we cannot just stand by and ignore it. It is time to learn by foresight rather than hindsight.
Disaster readiness is the only way to reduce the “what ifs?”.
- This week: WHAT IF? A Doomsday Scenario (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- ‘Yolanda’ survivor faces uncertain future in Metro Manila (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- 82,757 Metro Manila road accidents in 2012 (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- #TalkThursday: Risk mapping Metro Manila (rappler.com)
- Study: 37,000 may die if 7.2 quake would hit Metro Manila (balitaktakan.wordpress.com)
- NASA: Haiyan/Yolanda’s strong side could affect Metro Manila (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
- ‘Metro Manila’ for ‘Yolanda’ survivors (entertainment.inquirer.net)
- [Pink Scene] TFP Cancels 2013 Metro Manila Pride Celebration (geeky-guide.com)
- Island-hopping ‘Yolanda’ to be felt in Metro Manila (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- How prepared is Metro Manila for a strong quake? (rappler.com)
This Week: EARTHQUAKE
By Miguel Raymundo
A not-so-public JICA study depicts the magnitude of death and destruction a huge earthquake will cause in Metro Manila. With no way to accurately predict when an earthquake will strike—the country faces a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.
Now available in National Bookstore, Fully Booked and Powerbooks. Php15.
- New Zealand earthquakes weakened Earth’s crust: new breed of earthquakes (ambulivictor.wordpress.com)
- Earthquakes in the world on November 26, 2013 (M2.9 or more) (earthquake-report.com)
- New Zealand earthquakes weakened Earth’s crust: new breed of earthquakes (endtimeheadlines.wordpress.com)
- Upstate NY, Canada: Meteor or Earthquake? Loud Sound and Shaking on Tuesday (theepochtimes.com)
- Earthquakes in the world on November 25, 2013 (M2.9 or more) (earthquake-report.com)
- Powerful earthquake strikes near Falkland Islands, no damage (wireupdate.com)
- Azle City Leaders Call For State Investigation Of Earthquakes (dfw.cbslocal.com)
- How to prepare for an earthquake (smartsign.com)
- New earthquake shakes Baghdad (iraqinews.com)
- Powerful earthquake strikes near Falkland Islands, no damage (bnowire.com)
This week: WHAT IF? A Doomsday Scenario
“WHAT if a disaster of cataclysmic proportions hits Metro Manila, home to more than 15 million Filipinos—and the seat of the nation’s capital? Are we ready to cope? Thousands of lives will be lost and casualties can run to millions. It will be a harrowing sight that will surely bring the nation to its knees. That is, if we consider the potential disasters on a grand scale, such as the recent earthquake in Bohol and typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that razed big parts of Leyte to the ground. What if, instead of the Visayas, Yolanda took a path straight through the heart of the National Capital Region?” – Frederick Fabian
Find out more in this week’s incoming issue of OpinYon! Available in National Book Store, Powerbooks Store and Fully Booked!
IDB: Live Music Mecca of South Metro
[by Miriam Tan-Fabian]
FILIPINO indie musicians have it more difficult than their mainstream counterparts. They travel to great lengths both figuratively and literally just to be able to play. They get paid little, if at all, and oftentimes even refuse the little honorarium offered to them because most of them do it for the joy of playing music.
Indie musicians patiently wait their turn through a lineup of bands to be able to play anywhere from just 3-5 of their original songs, even. They lug their gear and equipment, sometimes through hours and kilometers to perform in an accessible venue with a good sound system, a cooperative and helpful sound man, and an appreciative crowd all in the pursuit of that elusive “perfect” performance. Thus, music venues are of primary importance to musicians.
Enter IDB, a cool and cozy venue located in Parañaque City, which hosts some of the best and most talented independent musicians from the local independent music scene.
IDB, a combined rehearsal studio, sound equipment rental, and bar is located on the third floor of Richland Commercial bldg. along Sucat and in front of Jaka Plaza in Brgy. San Isidro, Sucat, Parañaque. Although IDB is easy to miss, the gig entrance being small side entrance of Richland Commercial Bldg., it is now one of the happeningest place in the South, the equivalent of Makati’s Saguijo but without the relic feel and the pretentious hipster crowd.
Here’s the scoop on how IDB started.
Home is Where the Music Is
Sharen de Guzman, proprietor of IDB and rhythm guitarist of long-time indie/shoegaze/post-rock band Legarda and new super group The Skeleton Years, explained how he was inspired to put up a music venue. “It all started as a hobby really. We’ve been in the music scene for more than a decade now, and we know that gigs in the South are a bit limited due to the fact that there are only a few places that hold these kinds of events. Being in a band from the South that has to travel to northern parts of Metro Manila like Cubao or Timog Avenue, just to play, we’ve decided to open up our very own place that we musicians from the Metro South can call home.”
Sharen was very humble about the contributions of IDB when he said, “IDB is just your regular hangout spot but with some awesome music, great company, and overall great environment”. IDB continues to be one of the most accommodating places in the southern part of Metro Manila for bands and performers alike. Anyone who is anyone in the independent music scene who wants to hone their musical chops and get a boost in crowd support has to play in IDB.
With its mix of quirky, gothic, and artistic interiors, including a wall-sized picture of Darth Vader’s head as a mural, a pencil rendition of a skull with a tentacle in one eye, a colorful wall of aliens and whimsical monsters, low tables, and even some old car tires turned into seats and tables, how could IDB not feel relaxing and cozy?
Sharen stressed that IDB’s ambience is one of its unique features and selling points as a live music venue when he said, “A lot of people who’ve been to IDB say that our place has this relaxed and homey feel to it. Chill lang daw, kahit nga daw nakaupo ka lang sa sahig, okay na e [It’s a chill place, they don’t even mind sitting on the floor to enjoy the show]. Also, the crowd can mosh (a style of dancing in rock shows) if they want to, which other venues do not allow. There are also these bands that say that IDB is like their home now.”
Indie Music Advocate
This hobby-turned-business has been running for three straight years now, promoting and giving actual performance opportunities to such non-mainstream but notable bands that push the envelope of Pinoy music, from electronic acts like Gentle Universe, a trio from Cavite specializing in ambient, ear-friendly, instrumental music; Cerumentric, an edgy synthrock band that uses computerized instruments instead of traditional guitars and drums; Names Are for Tombstones (NAFT), a one-man darkwave/synthpop band. It is a favorite venue of indie crowd darlings such as Walk Me Home, Neverdie, Pinstriped Rebels, Cebu’s raging girl-fronted outfit Tiger Pussy, The Sleepyheads, and acoustic-garage rock warblers Death To Puberty.
IDB has taken on a non-discriminatory and welcoming approach to organizers and bands alike, encouraging new musical styles to be performed where other typical venues won’t allow it. While it has welcomed mainstays and music veterans like The Youth, and Alfie Mela of acclaimed Pinoy new wave group Half Life Half Death, among others, it has also opened its arms to touring foreign acts, cover bands, fresh college bands, experimental musicians, and even new bands who are still exploring and developing their unique sound. IDB has had its share of being a venue of choice for touring foreign indie bands, such as when Grand Hotel Paradox, an acclaimed band from Dubai, played in the country. It has also hosted interesting events like flip top competitions. ‘Fliptop’ involves two spontaneous rap performers who try to outdo and tell off each other using rhymed speech, similar to the traditional art of balagtasan but delivered in sync to a hiphop beat. The recent one resulted to a fully packed and standing room only venue.
Since Sharen is a musician as well, he invested in a good sound system and soundproofed the venue himself. He is known to be hands-on and personal when he deals with the bands. He is also right in on the case when there are technical problems with the sound system.
One of a Kind
Before IDB, there was Al’s Bar along Aguirre Avenue in BF Homes, another venue for great music and good food where you can just chill with your friends and colleagues. For good or bad, when Al’s Bar closed, its regular patrons were displaced, and were looking for an alternative place to go. Luckily, IDB was there to take up the slack. Sharen was very candid about IDB’s potential competition when he said, “We don’t particularly have competition in our area to worry about, partly because there are really very few gig spots here in Paranaque to start with.”
Need: A helping Hand
When asked about his challenges in running IDB, since the venue operates as a small enterprise, Sharen answered, “We only have small crowds and we’re basically only open during the weekends”. He added, “One challenge for us is to fill up all the Saturdays and Fridays of every month. We need all the gigs we can get.” In light of this, it is probably no exaggeration to say that many gig places are a dime a dozen. IDB though, is a gem among gig places, and in its own small way has promoted Filipino music, creativity, and artistry. Unfortunately, places like these get little assistance from the government. Gig organizers may also be uninformed about the type of assistance they can ask from the government. Either way, there is a gap that needs to be filled.
Different Business Model
When asked about his plans for IDB, Sharen shared, “Nothing specific really. We just want to continue what we’ve started and just provide a place for bands to call their home, here in the South. He also understands that much of what he has achieved was because of the wellspring of support from the indie music scene when he said, “And if it weren’t for all the support we get from them, none of this would be possible”.
And when asked what insights and tips he can share with would-be entrepreneurs, he offered, “Just persevere and do what makes you happy”. We hope and pray that IDB gets more supporters so that it can do what it has always been doing: inspire more musicians, enrich music and culture, and create an audience that will appreciate it, while sustaining itself on the business side of things.
For event reservations and live gig updates, IDB can be reached at 09228678938. Visit IDB on Facebook: http://facebook.com/idbsouth
People Win vs. Corporatist Greed
by: Mentong Laurel
ON September 15, 2013 newspapers front-paged the MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System) order for water concessionaires In Metro-Manila to cut their water rates for the next five years. Manila Water for the east zone is to reduce its rate by P 7.24/cubic meter and Maynilad Water in the west zone by P 1.46/cubic meter. The two privatized and corporatized water service utilities said they will dispute the MWSS order and submit it to arbitration proceedings. Manila Water claimed the tariff reduction would compromise its ability to serve its customers fully while Maynilad said it was “unjustified”.
The two water companies applied for rate hikes. But various consumer activist groups, individual and media advocates questioned the propriety of the companies passing off its income taxes to consumers. The debate raged since June with the public weighing heavily against the water companies and its apologists on the fairness and legality of passing off income taxes to consumers. The MWSS and the advocates stood strongly on the ground provided by the Puno Supreme Court in a 2003 decision, supported by COA (Commission on Audit) findings that disallowed Meralco’s passing on income tax to consumers and granting a P 30-B refund to its five million customers. #OpinYon #opinion
read cont | http://bit.ly/1fa7vMn
- Water firms ordered to lower rates (manilastandardtoday.com)
- MWSS denies hike plea, orders lower water rates for next 5 years (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Solons to probe ‘irregularities’ in setting water rates (bulatlat.com)
- Manila Water Plunges by Record on Rate-Cut Order: Manila Mover (bloomberg.com)
- Enrile, Trillanes face off over water deals (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Philippine Water Regulator Orders Companies to Cut Tariffs – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Water firms face P43-b refund bid (mst.ph)
- Consumer groups see arbitration between MWSS (business.inquirer.net)
- Trillanes, Enrile face-to-face again over water firms’ corporate income taxes (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Decision on water rate hike out soon (newsinfo.inquirer.net)