(photo taken from seminar organized by BESC on September 5, 2017)

The Big One is a very strong earthquake predicted by local and international seismic experts to occur at the West Valley Fault and is expected to cause havoc in Metro Manila in the near future. We have read about it, and most of us have put it behind our mind as we are preoccupied by our daily grinds.

However, the seminar held on September 5 and 6, 2017 in the Mind Museum for locators in Bonifacio Global City, called Disaster Preparedness and Survival Seminar, was a wake-up call for those who attended. The speaker, LCDR Ferdinand A. Juan PN(GSC)(RES), a retired Lieutenant commander of the Philippine Navy, is an expert in disaster preparedness.He is also an expert in presentation, because he organized the presentation in such a way that most of us stay focused on what he said for over two hours!

His lively and informative presentation made us realize:

How imminent The Big One is

According to historical data, a series of earthquake originating at the West Valley Fault happens every 350 years or so. The 2014 earthquake in Pasig City shows that the next round of earthquakes caused by the West Valley Fault has started.

What The Big One could look like

When and if West Valley Fault near C5, east of BGC, makes a big move, it is likely that the land on one side of the fault will move up, by up to 5 meters. Some streets will become impassable. Power and water supplies will be disrupted, and as a result there will be no cell phone signals. Food supply will be disrupted. There will be fire in many places as electricity cables and fuel pipelines are damaged.

How bad it could be

Using experience learned from recent natural disasters in the Philippines, the speaker said that we could expect a large number of casualties. Medical facilities would unlikely to be able to cope.

Expect desperate behaviors from a lot of people, even our neighbors, because when food supplies dwindle, people would go crazy. Looting will become acceptable behavior. He used the term YOYO to shake us out of our complacency. You are On Your Own, because even first responders like police, fire fighters, army, may not come to help us, since many will want to go home and tend to their own families, and because of the large number of people who would need help. 

How unprepared we are

The presenter posed a series of questions to make us think: where will we be when it happens? If we check our daily schedule, we will realize that every day there are quite a few hours that many of us will be away from our loved ones, and most of us did not have a family reunification plan in place now, before The Big One occurs. Everyday we also spend about half of the time at places out of our home, such as in place of work or on the road. We have not checked or prepared the survival kits in these other places. We also have no idea where we would be able to get clean drinking water when the supply is disrupted.

Some Pointers to survive the Big One in the Fort

A lot of information was provided to help us prepare for The Big One. Some of the more important ones are listed below.

Before it happens

– have Go Bags (to store a supply of survival items) for everyone prepared at home and at work, and in the car if you commute in a car. The supplies should last for at least 3 days.

– discuss a reunification plan with family members. Where should we meet each other after a big earthquake, and how do we communicate when there is no cell phone signal.

– figure out where the evacuation center would be. There should be sufficient space for each individual (safe zone). The minimum is one square meter per person.

– For emergency shelter, the space requirement for planning purpose should be 3.5 square meters per person.

– organize your community so that food and other essential supplies are stored for everyone at least for the first few days, and as a community to provide security for the group.

– remove breakable (like pictures with glass frame) and heavy items in bed rooms

– identify evacuation areas. In BGC, open space like the American Heritage and Memorial Park may be a good choice. Places that may be hit by falling glasses from buildings and collapsing walls should be avoided.

For condo residents, the evacuation of people and storage of survival supplies involve additional logistic concerns.

After the Big One

– stay away from walls and structures that may fall on you.

– be prepared for desperate behavior.

– Hold on to your GoBags and be prepared to be on your own YOYO

– be aware that C5 would likely to be impassable by vehicles as the faultine crosses C5 near McKinley Hill. Exit from BGC would likely to be via EDSA only, but the road may be very congested also.

-It will take time for people to evacuate from a high rise building

Attendees of the Earthquake Preparedness seminar at the Mind Museum

It was great to see that the seminar was well attended by locators in Bonifacio Global City on both days. Hopefully, it means that more people are prepared and when The Big One strikes, they know what to do. Hopefully, the idea that we will have to cope when there is no cell phone or internet signals will sink in, and we have to really start preparing for The Big One.

There will be a BGC-wide disaster-preparedness drill on September 29, 2017. The first responders will practice working together in case of a real disaster. 

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