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Just in case

“WE protect ourselves to protect from falling objects.”

Take it from the earthquake expert, Phivolcs Director and Undersecretary Renato Solidum: It’s objects falling on people during an earthquake that kill, not the shaking of the earth itself.

“The damage in Batangas was what it was because the province is not highly urbanized.”

You can blame those fearsome scenarios of 33,000 to 50,000 earthquake deaths if and when the “big one” strikes on the population density and concentration of infrastructures, buildings, and houses in a city as crowded as Metro Manila.

And yet, as Dr. Solidum told the Kapihan at Manila Hotel, “If the West Valley Fault will move, tall buildings are safe if they are heavy” and were built according to updated quake-proofing techniques.

Ironical as it may seem, it’s “those small houses” that were “not engineered” but haphazardly put together by amateur carpenters that are vulnerable to shocks. Remember, falling objects! Indeed, Dr. Seismologist is in favor of passing a zoning law to restrict high-rise condominiums to their own area or district, away from one- and two-story houses, for the latter’s sake.

Just as important, Dr. Solidum seeks increased public awareness of the urgent need to secure airports, ports, roads, bridges, the transport and delivery of goods, now and not later. “We cannot afford to let the economy come to a standstill” even as we struggle to wake up from a nightmare of such magnitude (that is, 8). By the way, “Angat dam needs to be rehabilitated, whether it lies on the Fault or not.”

What’s the difference between intensity and magnitude? “Intensity is what is felt,” magnitude is the force or energy released. A magnitude-7 earthquake is 32 times stronger than a magnitude-6.

Where do you live, Director Solidum? “In Cainta. It’s safe. Like your Quezon City, what’s under is adobe.”

Which means, the man whose job is to appropriately and scientifically scare us in order to force us to “protect ourselves” is doubly safe. He lives in Cainta and his office is in QC, near where Bangko Sentral keeps our money.
(Jullie Y. Daza)

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