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.

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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.


71 Replies to “The Great Manila Earthquake is Coming, and Prayer Won’t Stop It”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. That’s okay. From a purely economic perspective, even if those places weren’t in an earthquake zone, the Philippines is already entering a housing bubble dilemma.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. Very true. “Bahala na” isn’t a prayer. You should pray for the strength of your umbrella, and not for the rain to stop.

    2. Amen ChinoF. God already gave us a brain to think independently and that gift of His to us will be a total waste for failipinos if they just always ask God to solve their problems while all they do is nothing but hayahay.

  6. 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.

    1. You are damn right it will be like Mad Max if/when that damn fault decides to move! Tacloban is a far smaller city yet people rioted and looted in the wake of Yolanda! What more Metro Manila?

      We should be preparing for an 8.5 magnitude rather than just 7.2! The Fault hasn’t moved in so long so it’s only prudent to expect more intensity than what is being forecast!

  7. 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..

    1. That’s the problem they only think for some invisible deity to spare them, why won’t they act? Maybe because if they act to prepare for the quake it will be like defying the plan of their so called “GOD” so they would rather die for his grand plan.
      Really? we can lower the force by praying? Haha! Why don’t you give that awesome advice to the geologists(specially the foreign ones).
      Oh please! God does not always answer all prayers, there is just so many humans asking for it.

    2. God certainly didn’t “lessen” Haiyan/Yolanda’s intensity, and Tacloban is a very religious city.

    3. I agree with you ChinoF up there.. When we pray we must have faith and faith includes action for faith without action is dead..Read James 2:14-26 .. So we must pray to God and at the same time we must prepare for what is about to come. Yet in preparing, we must prepare not just in physical things but more important in our spiritual life. For we may survive this earthquake but still we’re all gonna die and we will face His judgement

      (Hebrews 9:27New International Version (NIV)

      27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,)

      .and the Bible says
      (John 14:6New International Version (NIV)

      6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.)

      (John 3:16New International Version (NIV)

      16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.)

      (Romans 5:6-11New International Version (NIV)

      6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

      9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.)

  8. 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 always need him, at least that is what I prefer to believe.

    1. In short, addressing earthquake preparedness now is like building a house on sand. There are fundamental infrastructure issues that need to be developed in the Philippines to serve as robust foundation for higher-level disaster response capability development. You can’t invest in the share market if you haven’t paid your credit card debt, in short.

    1. If he was merciful, he would’ve put 3/4 of the populace there out of their misery. No, God is a cruel asshole who enjoys watching people suffer.

  9. 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.

    1. how many times have god personally lead people out of disasters? I only saw people risking their lives for other people and god nowhere to be found? Couldn’t he have used his divine powers for some salvation or whatnot? Perhaps prevention or something else… Face it assuming god is real then either god is dead, god is angry emotional and punishing us for some undisclosed reason, or god doesn’t care but what would be the point of worshipping a uncaring god then..

  10. 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??????
    GET REAL !!!

  11. 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…..

    1. Besides,preparation involves planning for the future,unfortunately a concept which is beyond the grasp of most filipinos….Govt.agencies set up to enforce building codes,emergency preparedness,doling out supplies,etc,exist in name only,and are nothing but a hollw,emptied out facade…..

  12. 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.

  13. 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 once said that he had read a book (i forgot the title) regarding government strategies on deceiving the population and this is part of it (scare tactics). If you cannot convince them scare them with another topic and follow up with your agenda and if the public is still focus on the previous agenda open a new or bombard them with controversies to coverup the previous topic so that the public will forget about the real agenda.

  14. 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 to address this issue is to strengthen our awareness and to take action in preparation for the predicted calamity alone and not bash on what other people pray for. We all have that one thing we can do and that is to help each other out and, again, prepare and take action. Can’t it be done that we focus there alone? Some people do not find prayers as an overall solution and some people also do. We all have our sides to this so it is not proper to address and bash on to each opposing sides but instead, it is more proper to focus on where everyone meets in the middle – the actions we can and may do for a better handling of the situations bound to happen in the future.

    I’m sorry i just had to speak up! Hahaha this is something people should not be arguing about cause, really, let’s focus on the real problem here. Damn people gotta chill sometimes! Hahaha kaya di umuunlad Pilipinas e hahaha

    1. Why do you call something disrespectfull what is just a plain fact?
      Pls get your act straight. Make sure your house is quake proof so you dont have to cry me a river when your house is gone to rumble. Or do you really expect god will keep your house intact?

      1. It is disrespectful indeed, sir. Why? Belief is something we all have and we all have differently. The fact that each belief is different and we’re trying to bash on what others believe in is useless. I did not say that God will keep anything intact. Please stay on track of the argument when trying to prove a point. I am not for any sides here because too much dependance on religion is not a good thing and bashing on what others think is also not a good thing. That is my point here. In filipino, ano pakialam ng iba sa gustong paniwalaan ng iba? We all have different sides to things so why even bother trying to argue about this. All im saying is, can not we end the argument on what to believe in and what not to believe in since we all have different takes on this? Can not we focus on where we all meet in the middle and that is to keep safe everyone as much as possible? That is the main goal and that is something we can all agree to – safety. If I want to believe that God can keep me safe, why can’t you leave that be and respect my belief as much as I respect your belief that you do not expect God to keep your house intact? Belief is an individual’s opinion he firmly holds on to. We all have different beliefs so why do others expect others to believe what they want to believe in? Wala pong pakialamanan ng gusto paniwalaan. That is it.

        1. For me, there is a big difference knowing YOU did everything to protect yourself from getting killed/injured (by an earthquake or landslide or tsunami or typhon or whatever) and did everything to protect your house from getting destroyed (by an earthquake or landslide or tsunami or whatever). Only then I will consider sending donations/aid. But if/when I know all you did is rely on god (or allah or buddha or who ever imaginary) then I wont do anything. So there is no meeting in the middle and there is no middle way.
          In other words: only you and you alone are responsible and accountable for your future, your well being, and your wellfare.

          I am sure you were not born yesterday (literally) so you know that your country is laying in a location that is prone to natural disaster Its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator makes the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons.
          So what did you do so far with your house to protect it from getting destroyed?

  15. 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:


    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.

  16. Earthquakes are SCARE DIVERSIONARY TACTICS of Aquino; because he bribed Congress to pass the BBL Law. Congress is now his “Rubber Stamp”.

  17. Hindi dahil di kayo naniniwala Sakanya hindi na Siya totoo. Sakanya din kayo tatawag pag gipitan na.

  18. Pray and prepare. Most of all, have faith that your prayers will be heard. God will let you know what to do when the time comes.

  19. So negative. Why not post how we can all prepare for earthquakes. Going against religion is sensationalism as well.

    I myself am not religious and more practical, so help others by raising more constructive type of awareness.

    1. Catherine,
      prepare for an earthquake? Pls use the internet and google it. Or do you really need to be spoon-fed all the time?

      You are not that practical otherwise you wouldnt have stated the above “how we can prepare for an earthquake”.

      Pls help yourself first and then you can help others. Or maybe its better they help themselves. So that you can put all of your time to yourself in case of an earthquake.

      1. Oh, don’t you worry about me, i already have four survival bags with 72 hour rations and emergency plans, 2 satellite phones, and two back-up locations.

        I search for useful information that can help my family and others and prayer has it’s place beside preparation.

        Thank you for the reminder to help myself and I pray that you have taken your own advice.

        Spoon-fed “All the time”? This is the first time I’ve ever interacted with you?!?! The assumptiom that you know me is beyond hilarious. LOL

        Tsk tsk tsk! Once again, So negative. The goal is to help people.

        1. Catherine,
          thanks for praying for me. But pls dont waste your time on praying for me.

          I am not negative, I am a realist.

          The goal should be that each individual can help him/herself but thats not the case in the Philippines. Everyone in the Philippines needs to be helped (and taken care of) by others.

    2. Ms. Catherine Chan: Obviously you did not read my article. I GAVE ideas on how to prepare in the second to the last paragraph.

  20. “Everyone in the Philippines” is an ignorant statement, and is definitely NOT a fact.

    You obviously have a poor opinion of my countrymen and that is sad.

    Good luck to you, sir, and keep trolling on!

    1. Prayers cannot be underestimated when faithfully & responsibly done…with actions. Thanks catherine for having the guts to tell these so-called opinionated sages that their premise is already flawed.

  21. The pessimists and the unbelievers during Noah’s time were those that perished in the flood but the families who trusted God by faith and put it into action were those who were saved. You may have done all the preparations and all the safety measures but if God in His sovereign will take those protections out of your way, you cannot do anything. History might repeat itself and still man did not learn his lessons. The best preparation is always being prepared spiritually and knowing where you are going.

    1. I agree with you… God is aware in everything… Philippines is a corrupt country corrupt people.. This hurt but we need to face the truth… Maybe this is the sign that Allah will going to punish us… We need to ask His protection.. We need to go back to Him.. He will surely save us….

  22. #TheGreatManilaEarthquake, it will happen but nobody really knows when all the more reason the people should prepare. But #TheGreatManilaFlood, that is sure to happen anytime soon. Moderate or trickles of rain already resulted to knee-high flood. Hard rain, you’ll already see vehicles afloat. Already there should’ve been strict clean and green activities and ordinance in this silly highly urbanized region but there’s none. Already engineers should’ve been looking at the drainage network and making plans to mitigate the flood but hey, there’s still no go signal from their local officials, the project managers and budget holders. Sure, there are ongoing road works on some areas (saw finished uneven roads along Gagalangin and Pajo a few months ago), but see the river where the water will flow? The river basins are clogged with garbage. The best the citizens can do really is be prepared for the great flood, especially the ones in the squatters area. It’s going to be an attack of the killer garbage sailing on the deep murky waters come rainy season. And it won’t be long.

  23. God put a rainbow after he drowned the whole world.
    Has your god gone mad or just only being funny ?

    1. Earthquakes happen all the time. However, as seismologists have already estimated, the West Valley Fault is due for movement which could result in a large earthquake that could potentially kill tens of thousands in Manila.

      That’s why preparation and earthquake awareness are needed more than ever. Take note that in my article I never said that people should not do prayer; it would be better to make all the necessary preparations, and pray for the best outcome after all of those preparations have been done.

  24. Hey…. Dont tell that no religion can save this natural disaster… Only Allah knows…. Everything happens with His permission…. And every corrupt people must pay their sin! We need to entrust our life only to Allah..if we called Him out of sincere asking for protection.. HE might save us.. I trusted everything to Allah and may Allah protect all our people.. Guide us and spare us from the death of the disaster.. we need to go back to Him in our sincere repentance… We need to throw the idea of worshipping idols… (Catholic images made of wood and stone ) go back to one and only God… He might save us… And spare to punish us… Emd times is almost near.. This natural calamity is one of a sign.. We must save our soul from hellfire.. May Allah forgive us and protect us.. Ameen

  25. I don’t necessarily agree with the heading that says “prayer won’t stop it…” Nothing is impossible with God and I am firm with that faith inherent among us Filipinos…

    1. The problem with many internet readers is they rely on the heading alone, and don’t bother with the succeeding content.

  26. Can they predict earthquakes now? Is there any possibility that this is man made? They can manipulate weather and make earthquakes now with their advance geoengineering like HAARP.

  27. I was doing my laundry at around 10 last night when I suddenly got dizzy, felt like vertigo. I thought I must be tired and sleepy. Then I received a text from a workmate asking if I felt the quake. Dang! The ground shook and I didn’t even realized it.

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