Filipinos have no Philippine ‘Nation’ to rely on in the event of a catastrophic earthquake

So some residents of Metro Manila now know how big or how little a risk they face in the event of a strong earthquake hitting sometime in the future. A certainty, we are told. But information is only useful when it is actionable.

The information so far being circulated by the Philippine government comes primarily from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PhiVolcS) which issued detailed data on the areas traversed by the now-infamous West Valley Fault Line. The other source of information — on how individual and small local community efforts can be mounted to mitigate risks — comes mainly from the public service efforts of various activists.


Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

Various local politicians have also come out to assure their constituents of the state of disaster preparedness in their respective jurisdictions.

Suffice to say, however, disaster preparedeness really comes down to how much resources one has at their disposal. To put it bluntly, the rich are the safest and the poor, as usual, are most vulnerable when disaster strikes. In the event of an earthquake — or, for that matter, a big flood or a powerful storm, or any other natural calamity — the biggest proportion of body bags will likely be used to collect the poor’s dead. For example, it is easy to guess which communities all the big typhoons that hit the Philippines killed in the past — squatters.

Perhaps, some say, earthquakes won’t kill as many squatters — because they all live in sprawling colonies of houses that are made of lightweight junk, unlike the vertically-oriented hollow-blocks-and-mortar structures more affluent Filipinos live in. That’s a bright light shining on the problem that will easily blink out when one considers what happens after the first big strike. Emergency services become crucial in disasters’ aftermath. What will be the priority deployment areas of what are likely to be severely-strained disaster response capability?

Obviously, disaster response, is a challenge. There is lots of information about city-level measures being taken, but what everyone is holding their breath for is some insight on what the national capability brings to the table. The Philippine National Government’s track record on the matter of disaster response capability is not as reassuring. The Philippines has the weakest military in the region and has to rely on the charitable disposition of wealthier societies in its frequent times of need.

Whatever capability the national government wields is funded after all the informal “taxes” are collected by various politicians and government officials who’ve got siphons dipped into the public funding channel from the budgeting process all the way down to the disbursement procedures. By some accounts this thievery makes off with up to 80 percent of original appropriated amounts.

Most disturbing of all, no amount of physical resources available can mitigate the petty squabbling between political families that rule their respective fiefdoms across the archipelago. This reality about how well (or unwell) Filipinos work together was on exhibit in the days following Super Typhoon Haiyan’s deadly strike on Tacloban City when Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Mayor Alfred Romualdez bickered over who was responsible for what.

The Philippines’ notoriously world-renowned red tape alone could leave an abundance of critical equipment, food, and medicines languishing in warehouses and staging areas for days. Add to that the lack of a credible crisis management command structure and you have a complete recipe for the continued banal squandering of vast opportunity to prevent loss of life. Reporting from the ground in 2013 when Haiyan struck Tacloban, CNN correspondent observed “no real evidence of organized recovery or relief” effort coming from the Philippine government in the critical days following the disaster wreaked by the storm.

The real deal is in the effort and resources poured into disaster preparedness. Unlike responsiveness, preparedness requires far more foresight — something Filipinos cannot be considered to apply in abundance in their “nation building” efforts. Sadly, the six-year electoral cycle that fatally hobbles national development offers no relief to long-term planners and strategists.

Rather than focus on the future, presidents after president focus more on crushing their predecessors and replacing their infrastructure development initiatives with their own pet projects. Back in 2010, newly-minted Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III for months busied himself killing many critical disaster-mitigation infrastructure projects started or continued by his predecessor former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This along with other cuts was blamed for a collapse in economic growth in the first couple of years of the Second Aquino Government and the likely devastation-by-flooding suffered by millions of Filipinos that marked the following several years of his administration.

Indeed, it is disturbing that the issue of the West Valley Fault menacing Metro Manila suddenly resonates today. The risks of eathquake destruction hanging over Metro Manila were identified in various detailed studies done going back many years. But the timing of this renewed “interest” in the subject is quite tragic. The 2016 presidential elections is only a few months away. This means, the Philippine government is effectively in a state of complete paralysis — focused on politics foremost at the expense of strategic leadership — that will last well past the next 12 months.

As activists now insist, it really is up to individuals and their immediate communities. There is no nation to rely on. Kanya-kanya na lang.

10 Replies to “Filipinos have no Philippine ‘Nation’ to rely on in the event of a catastrophic earthquake”

  1. A reminder that we should always expect and be prepare against increasing number & stronger Super Typhoons. Due to our geography, Extreme weather events (nature’s wrath) now pose a clear threat every year. Philippines is adjacent to the largest body of water – the Pacific Ocean when it heat-up (global warming) creates super typhoons that likely hit us first with full force/thrust.

    Climate change is too serious for any President/Nation (Government & People) to ignore its danger. Hazards brought about by Climate Change & our Geography is imminent and will worsen @ bigger scale/interval, thus Super Typhoon every year is now the NEW NORM.

    Last year 2014, four Super typhoons visited Philippines Area of Responsibility with 1-directly inflicting damage in Metro Manila while 3-other suddenly change direction toward Taiwan or Japan?

    Last November 2013, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) spared nobody (rich or poor). Everyone was in total disarray – PANIC, LOOTING & CHAOS erupted due to the following:

    1. FEAR

    GOOD GOVERNANCE is a vital/key component in coping with these problems.

    Links below is my Study and Suggestions (5yrs. ago) for Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction, Preparedness and Flooding which our President (Noynoy Aquino) & Government ignored or simply did not care understand.
    But after experiencing numerous disaster every year with increasing no. of death/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:


    To avoid PANIC, LOOTING & CHAOS – it is necessary to convey messages or instructions BEFORE, DURING & AFTER any disaster. It is also vital to receive/transmit informations & news in the community in times of crisis. And to warn occupants of impending danger.

  2. All you need is Jesus. If you accept him as your Lord and Savior, you will have everlasting life in heaven. Spending forever with Jesus! Isn’t that super cool? Think about it … billions and billions … and billions … trillions … quadrillions … of years … with Jesus!

    So why worry about an earthquake? A single life in the Philippines is nothing compared with quadrillions of years in heaven with Jesus.

    So accept him as your Lord and Savior now. Please lang. Its that simple, really.

    1. @Pastor Ernie

      Quite right, all we need is Jesus. But, it is not about “spending….quadrillions and quadrillions of years with Him” since we can’t talk of time as we know and experience it as humans. No, infinity is not a concept within our grasp even if we perceive, or more accurately hint or imagine, a shadow of it; how can a human relate to a dimension without time and space when time and space is his only universe? It is also not with Jesus, but through Jesus. It is about infinitely being with the One, Whom we often unpack as Perfection Himself, Goodness Himself, Truth Himself, Beauty Himself, Love Himself, etc only because humans cannot comprehend something so infinitely simple. We can’t comprehend totality and simplicity; we continuously break down things before we can synthesize. But, we might be lead to think that God has parts and complexities when we unpack His attributes, but God has no parts and complexity. Goodness is Him, as well as Truth, Beauty, Love, etc “are” Him, all merged without confusion into a Simplicity of that Subsisting Being by Essence.

      Nothing can exist unless it first can be. We often confuse ‘to exist’ with ‘to be’ and vice-versa, but if we think more, how can it exist if it didn’t first be? So nothing could be (whether it be the weak and strong force, the electromagnetic, gravitation, proton or electron, neutron, boson or fermion, ..humans, planets, galaxies, universe, powers, principalities,… etc) unless it has been allowed to “participate” in the One whose essence is TO BE. (That is why He said I AM WHO AM) And God had, has, and will have (or just has, from the perspective of infinity) a thought of Himself, the Logos. Jesus is the Logos, fully human and fully divine, the Second Person of that one Divine Nature, the God Who is both transcendent and immanent. Thus, Jesus is our Mediator.

      “So, why worry about an earthquake?”

      If that is your suggestion, I don’t think you are talking of the real Jesus. Sorry. If Jesus is the Logos of the One Whose essence is TO BE, you are looking at a Being Who is PURE ACT, with no “Potentialities”. Everything is NOW. That is why Paul said let those who just think of heaven not eat. Our concern has to be NOW. And if God is To Be by Essence (Ipsum Esse Subsistens), then He must have had an infinite number of choices on what galaxy, what planet, what human, what animal, etc He would have, or would share/d His inexhaustible To Be. So, why you, why me, why all the others? Your suggestion does not seem to appreciate this divine choice. This is the reason why you seem to take lives for granted in the Now; that is not being grateful for the ‘to be’ we were allowed to borrow.

      On top of that, Genesis suggested (commanded) that humans are the stewards of this planet (in fact of the universe if we are to transpose the limited understanding of the biblical writers into the modern understanding of the universe) It is true that we can’t prevent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, hurricanes, and we shouldn’t prevent them for they are the very reasons the planet is livable. Just imagine the unreleased heat, we would all be toast in hours if it were not for these natural occurrences. But, that means humans have not yet been good stewards for we have not yet found ways to meet these challenges or to utilize to the advantage of humans these natural phenomena in our own backyard (humans are already looking at occupying the moon and Mars).

      You hint at a prayer. That cannot be just uttering rote or extemporaneous words. If God is Pure Act, which He is if He is ‘To Be by Essence’, then humans will not be judged by their words alone, but by their acts. True, thoughts and intentions do matter. But, acts, actions will always be the completion of those thoughts and actions. I don’t think God would want to spend “quadrillion years” with inactive, unproductive humans. In other words, our acts here would determine if we are bound to be with Him. ….True, He is Merciful, but His Mercy has to be premised on Justice, or He will be violating common sense, which He cannot.

      My understanding is that actions with the right intentions can be prayers by themselves. In fact, they are much better if compared to mindless rote prayers.

    1. You can have more than 72 virgins throughout your life on earth that you can love and who can love you – wife, husband, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, girlfriend, boyfriend, friends, masters, students. So what the Islamic Radical is offering is cheap.

      1. In the Islamic Radical dogma; if you die in Martyrdom (like :suicide bombing, fighting the infidels, etc…). You go to Paradise immediately…where 72 virgins are waiting as your wives. 72 Mansions are also waiting for you. It’s like a Harem…good food, and good views…it is a Paradise…

        In the Islamic religion; you have to pay large dowry, to have a bride. So, if you are a rich man; you can buy many wives…

        If you are a poor man;you can only do the “Mary Palmer” , for life…

  3. Nobody can stop an Earthquake. There is no accurate method to predict, when an Earthquake will strike.

    To frighten people that an Earthquake is coming; is a diversionary tactic of Aquino. so that people will not think of the BBL Law , passed by Congress. This idiotic law that put a Hole on every taxpayer’s pocket is more of a calamity; than any Earthquake that will happen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.