MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos continue to be on edge about the possibility of “The Big One” because experts agree it would cause widespread destruction. “The Big One” is a hypothetical earthquake so massive that it’s predicted to have a magnitude of 8 or even greater.

Experts estimate around 35,000 deaths if ‘The Big One’ hits the Philippines
West Valley Fault traverses the cities of Metro Manila
According to DOST, the West Valley Fault traverses the cities of Metro Manila, namely Taguig, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, and Marikina, as well as Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, and Bulacan. Photo Courtesy: DOST

In the Philippines, experts predict that if the West Valley Fault shakes, a large portion of Metro Manila and surrounding areas will be severely affected. According to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the West Valley Fault is 100 km in length and traverses the cities of Metro Manila, namely Taguig, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, and Marikina, as well as the nearby provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, and Bulacan. They also warned of the potentially catastrophic consequences if the fault moved.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) also said that if “The Big One” occurs, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake could happen in Metro Manila. The agency also warned that the country could face the same disaster that struck Turkey and Syria on February 6, 2023, when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed thousands of people.

According to urban planner Paulo Alcazaren, “We should have started yesterday to prepare for ‘The Big One.’”

Over 35,000 people will die if the earthquake hits the country, according to the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS).

Marikina Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) officer, Dave David, shared their preparations in case “The Big One” hits. He explained that they have already been retrofitting, especially old buildings and heritage sites. They also consulted experts, who stated that structures should be able to withstand an earthquake of magnitude 7 or 8 with the National Building Code.

Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro has stated that both older and newer structures in the city are constantly being inspected and reviewed to ensure they are earthquake-safe. He added that they have already made preparations and have evacuation plans in place in the event of a disaster.

He said, “Yung ibang area na dinaraanan talaga ay hindi na natin pinapatayuan. Pero may mga area na inabutan na talagang matagal na panahon na nakatayo ng bahay, meron rin tayong binigay sa kanila at household level na evactuation plan,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said that more than 64% of buildings were built before the new building code was passed, and only 36% of buildings follow the new rules. According to experts, the National Building Code and the National Land Use Act should be amended to better prepare the country for such disasters.

Last February 2023, the MMDA assured the public that they are prepared and ready for any major disaster. According to MMDA spokesperson Mel Catarungan, they are giving disaster preparedness seminars and lectures, as well as organizing the possible deployment of urban search and rescue teams.

Earlier today, March 7, a 5.9-magnitude earthquake rocked the southern Philippines. According to PHIVOLCS, the earthquake occurred at 2:02 p.m., around the Maragusan municipality in Davao de Oro.

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake struck Zambales province and was felt in parts of Metro Manila and neighboring areas on Thursday, March 16.

— Sally, The Summit Express