Faults-A A +A
At Close Range
Sunday, March 13, 2011
SKYSCRAPERS dominate the skyline of every progressive area as so-called economic growth highlights the collective efforts of citizens to improve on their status and well-being.
In the Philippines, such tall and imposing structures fill the industrial and commercial districts and become concrete symbols of affluence, in some instances, arrogance and economic stability.
Makati, for example, has a surfeit of skyscrapers of different architectural designs and configurations. In that business district, there seems to be no limit to the altitude of buildings built or to be built as each one vies for the unofficial title of tallest structure ever constructed.
Now follow those in Taguig City, once a nondescript place, and now home to the Fort or the former Fort Bonifacio, a humongous area once inhabited by cogon grass and used by bivouac teams of the defunct ROTC units of then Manila-based universities, including my alma mater, Far Eastern University, some three and a half decades ago.
Whether or not these structures are structurally sound and can withstand earthquakes of 8.9 magnitude or greater, that remains to be seen as we anticipate (God forbid!) the coming of super ground shakers similar to those which hit Indonesia and, of late, the northeastern part of Japan.
Inarguably, there exists a fault line running through business districts in Metro Manila and the areas mentioned by Phivolcs include Marikina and Antipolo to the east and Makati toward the west. The subterranean cracks may become obvious and visible as ground movements become regular and audible.
Of course, we have seen, heard and read about the tragedy that struck northeastern Japan last Friday due to the strong 8.9 magnitude quake (are there no names given to earthquakes unlike typhoons and hurricanes? Am just curious, please), and the tsunami that followed, resulting to death of some 1,000 people (and counting). We, expectedly and understandably, commiserate with the Japanese people, through their officials, although they were just courteous (and proud) not to actively solicit aid from UN member countries although the latter are just about ready to come into Japan for the rescue and recovery effort. Contrast then this attitude with our mendicant stance. Whew!
They (the Japanese) countered that the situation is manageable and were best prepared for such type of calamities. Japan, as records show, is the favorite punching bag of earthquakes and the buildings there were (and are) designed and built to withstand relatively strong earthquakes, but Friday’s big one was destructive. There is a major problem though now confronting the Japanese authorities: nuclear meltdown as the big plant suffered cracks due to the quake and the accompanying tsunami. Going by the Japanese character, I know they will solve this problem soon.
There is no immediate or compelling reason to be apprehensive or overreacting as Angeles City Mayor Ed Pamintuan advised Angeleños to be calm and prepared for any eventuality. Nevertheless, he asked residents in the city and its relief and disaster coordinators to be on heightened alert so as not to be caught flatfooted in case the big one reaches our territory.
Ditto with other areas like Mabalacat where the hyperactive Mayor Boking Morales has already put into place his disaster and relief teams to address any calamity concern. What about Mayor Romy Pecson of Magalang?
There have been guidelines issued to observe in case earthquakes strike. As we know, they strike, unannounced, unexpectedly, treacherously. Not even agencies tasked to monitor, predict or forecast their arrival can pinpoint the time and date they will strike!
With all these unsettling concerns besetting us, including the ever-climbing prices of even basic commodities, we should not let our guard down. Instead, we should be more resilient in the face of these challenges. On hindsight, Mayor Ed muses that we might have abused the things nature has afforded us and now we are seeing the negative results of our carelessness.
Given all these troubles, man-made or otherwise, we all hope we shall overcome. Prayers, anyone?
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 14, 2011.