The Great Manila Earthquake is Coming, and Prayer Won’t Stop It

Shortly after the Loma Prieta Earthquake hit California in 1989, I remember the Philippine Daily Inquirer running a lower-right column headline about a stronger earthquake that would hit the Philippines in the near future. True enough, the great Luzon Earthquake of 16 July 1990 struck with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter Scale. Indeed this was stronger than Loma Prieta’s 6.9, and it also claimed the lives of around 1,700 people. The worst hit major city was Baguio, which was virtually isolated from the rest of the world for day after the quake, and with aid coming mainly from the US Armed Forces that had bases in the country at that time. People old enough to remember the quake still perhaps have memories of the giant hotel buildings collapsing into heaps of rubble all over Baguio, especially the grand Hyatt Terraces. As a world-class international tourist destination, Baguio never really recovered after the 1990 quake. Though I was still only in elementary school at that time, I can still remember much of what I as a Baguio native had to go through when a major cataclysmic event would strike. The Bohol Earthquake of 2013 is still fresh on many Visayans’ minds; I hope that the recovery there is swift, and that they can learn fast from experience.


Metro Manila was spared in 1990. A moderate earthquake hit the City in 1998, but this caused only the most minimal of damage. Twenty-five years after 1990, however, I have doubts if Manila and its environs would quickly recover from something that is inevitable. Recent headlines have emphasized the long overdue future shifting of the West Valley Fault, and that a quake as strong (or perhaps even stronger) than that of 1990 would strike Central-Southern Luzon at any time. The Philippine Institute of Vulcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) and the Department of National Defense (DND) have projected that when a major earthquake strikes the capital, deaths can run into the tens of thousands, and the economic losses can potentially run into the trillions of pesos. In other words, if the residents of Manila don’t act up soon, they’re quite literally and figuratively f–ked.

So how exactly are people reacting these projections? Not very well it seems, based on these articles. Here are a few sample comments:

  • Wag ng mag sisihan….magdasal na lng tayo (“Don’t blame each other, let’s just pray.”)
  • walang imposible sa Dios ipanalangin nating hindi mngyyari. (“Nothing is impossible with God, let’s pray that this doesn’t happen.”)
  • In JESUS name sana wag matuloy (“In Jesus’s name, wish that it doesn’t occur.”)
  • GOD will not allow it to hapen,LORD pls hev MERCY on US !
  • May God and with intercession of mama Mary prevent this Amen.

…ad nauseam. Clearly a lot of Filipino internet users would rather turn their backs on the scientific reality of things and resort to blind religious faith. Now I’m no atheist, but to ask higher powers to “stop” something from happening or to “spare” people isn’t exactly the best kind of prayer to offer, and it definitely isn’t a good application of religion. No amount of “hashtag pray for the Philippines” would stop billions of years of geologic activity. Filipinos should be quick to be reminded that Nepal, one of the most religious nations on Earth, was recently hit by TWO major earthquakes, one striking a week after the first. If any devout Filipino Catholic reading this would claim “Oh, but Nepal is a Hindu country,” then look no further than the 2010 earthquake that hit Haiti, a predominantly Catholic nation. That calamity claimed more than 200,000 lives, and Haiti has barely recovered afterwards.

Manila was slow to respond to a PREDICTABLE disaster in 2009. Religion and triumphalism couldn’t save it then, religion and triumphalism would not save it when the West Valley Fault gives way.

Fine, the Philippine government might be a shitty cesspool filled to the brim with money-grubbing fat-encrusted blowhards, but that doesn’t excuse the private citizens of Manila (or any Filipino, for that matter) from physically preparing for its own Big One. Understandably, the government can only do so much. If your house is within at least 50 feet of the West Valley Fault, then you need to get the hell out of there. If you plan to buy real estate, make sure that your property can withstand any kind of sudden natural disaster (such as an earthquake or tsunami), and try your best to buy insurance as well. Retrofit your property, or ask your landlord to do it for you. Participate in disaster drills, and be aware at all times where to go when disaster does strike. This blog might help, for those with questions about locations in and around the West Valley Fault.

The Filipino “bahala na” attitude should not apply. In any case, when (not if) the earthquake does come for Manila, buildings will fall and people will get killed; only you would determine if you’d want to be a fatality or not, and the blame will (and SHOULD) fall on yourself. Anderson Cooper may have talked about “resilience” when typhoon Haiyan struck Tacloban, but religious fatalism won’t cut it this time.


Post Author: MidwayHaven

But enough about me.

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71 Comments on "The Great Manila Earthquake is Coming, and Prayer Won’t Stop It"

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Great article. Prayers make one lazy to do the practical actions on something.


Most filipinos think their God will just miraculously weld shut the fault.

Robert Haighton

Thank god, because of this article I dont and wont need to send any money because now you can all help yourself. You all have been warned by MidwayHeaven (no sarcasm by the way).

But I am afraid that when that quake will hit that the Philippines is in need of a lot of foreign aid.


In the near future, Manny Pacquiao will become a god for the Filipinos and many stupid people will worship him and our country will still be in misery.


You can accuse me looking at the glass half-empty; but it’s scenarios like these as to why I will never consider investing in a “condo’ in Manila/Makati.


Nobody can stop, or predict an Earthquake, accurately.
The Marikina Fault Lines will surely move , if a tectonic earthquake, will occur.

You cannot control the movement of this Planet Earth. You cannot stop natural calamities from happening…we are destroying this Planet Earth, our Home. So, it is fighting back, with natural calmities.


Pastors I know preach that prayer should be accompanied by action, along with the mention of the passage, “faith without works is dead.” Pray, then prepare.


As Filipinos would rather turn to delusion than face reality, this is going to bite the country hard, big time. And if Manila is crippled, I can’t help but wonder what will happen to the city.

It turned into a colossal wreck after decades of being “free” and the complete opposite of what it was during the Marcos Era. But after this disaster… I won’t be surprised if it looks like something out of Mad Max.


reminds me of upcoming movie for this year: San Andreas starring Dwayne Johnson


With your respect.. If you will be ask with same question, what will you do?.. at least most of the filipinos think God, ask for God’s help.. yes the danger is eminent but with God’s grace this might turn to slow, less intensified earthquake, you can lower the force if you prolong the time of occurences, as physics says, and that might God will do.. And there are still others that God can do for those who believe in Him.. Anyway, God answers prayers in different ways..

Irineo B. R. Salazar
Even before the earthquake happens – I remember Ruby Towers early 1970s from childhood – Manila may sink due to too much groundwater being taken out. The place is overbuilt, sea levels are rising anyway. And from what I have read Manila Bay is drowning in garbage anyway. Luzon has a way to high population density anyway – better emphasize growth in regional centers like Cebu and Davao, even Tuguegarao, Legazpi or Subic if it has to be Luzon, unclog Manila before it is too late. God helps those who help themselves – MORE than he helps those who just… Read more »

Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa!


This post is leading some people away from God…i know we cant stop natural calamities but God can lead us the good path during a disaster and its true that nothing is impossible with God.So we just need to be prepared and pray.

biffa bacon

Are you shitting me??? Ask your landlord to retrofit your building ???? Move away from the fault ??? Ask 20 million people to participate in emergency drills??? Are you talking about Manila,Philippines,or some other planet??????

biffa bacon

Its way too late to do anything!!! Manila cant even deal with a rainstorm !!! How on earth do you REALLY think this is going to unfold,if a giant earthquake strikes????…take a good look at the Birch Towers in Malate…it looks like it will topple over if you move your furniture around….Oh no..its way too late for retrofitting not necessarily criticising your article,your intentions are good,but Manila is a house of cards,built on unstable ground,and full of shoddy buildings that do not remotely meet any kind of codes…..


There was nothing people can do anyways, you can’t hate them for being scared. I mean what else should they do besides being prepared and wait for the inevitable? come to think of it, our house is decades old and i’ve seen some cracks, and we don’t have the money for renovation in case it happens here. i guess i better pray too lol.

eternal mangekyō sharingan
eternal mangekyō sharingan
The said great earthquake waiting to happen in manila was already opened up by JICA to the philippine government long time ago, they just ignore their warnings. this was already shown on tv also a long time ago. They (government) just opened the topic to create a scare tactics for the filipino people to turn their focus on other topics and foget about the passing of the BBL, and it worked. The filipino people just turn their heads on another topic for a second about great earthquake and then BOOM the congress approves the BBL. An indian friend of mine… Read more »

Organize, don’t agonize.

Neither right nor wrong – the fact that the writer is trying to convince people not to be convinced by the beliefs of others is a way of showing bias for what he believes in and showing disrespect for the people who want to believe what they want to believe in. Prayer can be a tool for uplifting our spirits. Can it not be seen as such alone? Yes, we must be aware and prepare for the worst but that shouldn’t be something to replace prayer or lessen the amount of the way we manage our faith. A better way… Read more »
Dale Jose Gozar
GOOD GOVERNANCE is a vital/key component in coping with these problems. Links below was my Competition entry 5yrs. ago (Design Against the Elements) for Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction & Preparedness, Earthquake, Fire and Flooding which our President (Noynoy Aquino, Government and NGO ignored or simply did not care understand. But after experiencing numerous disaster every year with increasing no. of deaths, casualties & damages (Ondoy, Sendong, Pablo, Yolanda) – recently our Government (Dinky Soliman & Napoleon Nazareno) is now slowly implementing and copying my no.1 recommendation in my presentation: COMMUNICATION To avoid PANIC, LOOTING & CHAOS – it… Read more »