Philippine Scene #17 - Earthquake and How to Prepare for it

Beliefs of Ancient People regarding Earthquakes

Many Greek philosophers have various theories regarding earthquakes.

  1. Anaxagoras (5th BCE-14th CE) - believed that it is caused by air vapors in Earth's cavities underground.
  2. Thales of Miletus (625-547 BCE) - had a firm belief on the tensions happening between earth's surface and water.
  3. Anaxomines (585-526 BCE) - said it is often caused by short episodes of dryness and wetness between Earth's surface.
  4. Democritus (460-371 BCE) - believed that water underneath causes eathquakes.
  5. Pliny The Elder compared to underground thunderstorms.

Still on the Greek mythology. Poseidon causes the Earth's shaking when he's angry due to his stature as god of earthquakes.

In Norse mythology, it's because of Loki, god of mischief and strife. He is a popular character in the movie, Thor (god of thunder) as god of lightning.

Meanwhile in Asian region, Japanese mythology interpreted it as the giant Namazu who causes earthquakes. It is guarded by god Kazima.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Cebu and Bohol Earthquake Tragedy: It Comes like a Thief

We cannot detect EARTHQUAKES, but we can be prepared once it struck our place, our home, our place.

It always come unannounced, although the humanity of this Earth is all agog to make a device that can measure even the unnoticeable movement of our planet.

But to no avail.

Just recently (October 15, 2013), Cebu and Bohol residents suffered devastating effects from the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that swayed, moved and destroyed buildings, houses and people's lives.

As Reuters reported, heavy damage to roads, bridges and historic churches, some dating back to the Spanish colonial period in the 1500s and the 1600s, was also reported in Bohol and Cebu.

Photos of destroyed churches, cracked roads, people seeking shelters at the open fields, patients being evacuated by doctors and nurses to makeshift shelters, food and water shortages are but some of the aftereffects of the massive earthquake and the aftershocks that still occur until this time (as of this writing, Oct. 24, 2013).

Emergency rescuers have a hard time recovering those people who are reported missing or dead since the earthquake occurred.

Relief goods, especially water and food supplies were immediately transported by the government and private entities or organizations. Although, the difficulty in distribution, especially the incident of National Red Cross with local officials, Cebuanos and Boholanos are in dire need to avail such basic aids, including temporary shelter because they're still afraid to return at their residential houses.

Last night (Oct. 23rd), President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III or P-Noy and his cabinet secretaries and government personnel conducted an immersion at undisclosed place in Bohol (away from the eye of the media). He said that such move to actually experience the aftershocks and know the sentiments of his fellow Filipinos in the two provinces that are heavily affected by the earthquake.

The quake was also felt in some areas of Bicol region (Sorsogon, Masbate and Albay) and also in Siquijor.


How Earthquake is felt

Any movement underneath the earth's surface that can be felt by human beings and animals living above it will be considered earthquake.

Earthquake can be distinguished from its frequency, area of coverage and its momentum.

Measuring instruments we have learned from schooling are seismometer and Richter scale. John Milne was the English seismologist and geologist who invented the first modern seismograph. In 1855, Luigi Palmieri of Italy designed a mercury seismometer.

Meanwhile, the Richter Magnitude Scale was invented in 1935 by Charles Richter of the California Institute of Technology as a mathematical device to compare the sizes of earthquakes.

Most studies determined the magnitude of earthquakes due to the heavy shaking of displacement of the ground causing landslides and volcanic activity.

Many will agree that we cannot detect how earthquake will be felt. But, modern-day geologists who study earth's movement are now equipped with data gathered by their instruments where to locate the epicenter of those quakes.

Still, the warning of incoming earthquake is still not possible for people to know, unlike the weather where meteorologists can easily predict the change of atmospheric condition of the planet.

But not underneath the ground, where churning activities of volcanic magma can cause hysteria to people in upscale level.

Location of Earthquake epicenters around the world

Quake epicenters. (Photo Source: http://denali.gsfc.nasa.gov/dtam/seismic/) Author: NASA, DTAM project team
Quake epicenters. (Photo Source: http://denali.gsfc.nasa.gov/dtam/seismic/) Author: NASA, DTAM project team

Preparedness when earthquake happens

Most of the Filipino houses are made of light materials, such as bamboo (for walls, posts and flooring, anahaw leaves (for roofing).

Due to the lure of modernization, most residents built concrete houses, a much-better protection from turgid or bad weather (typhoons, storms).

But most families didn't follow specifications when building residential houses, not even building permit to cite as an example.

Recent occurrence of earthquake in the Philippines prompted government agencies to encourage the public in availing modern houses modification, such as seismic retrofitting ( as in adding safety trusses, external bracing, post tensions, base isolation, and a lot more) in order to control massive damages when earthquake occurs.

Exercises on how to react during earthquake is an added lesson among students in school or even in many workplaces.

Since Philippines is located at the Pacific Ring of Fire, where volcanic activities underground is expected to occur from time to time, a much needed refresher on earthquake preparedness should be included on safety tips of every institution in the country.

Earthquake Meter

Have you experienced already? What was your reaction?

  • Yes. I panicked and became hysterical!
  • Yes. I calmly went to safer ground and pray.
  • No. Never in my whole life.
See results without voting

How to conquer your fear during earthquake

Most of us, Filipinos are used to earthquakes but whenever it comes, a new fear usually demoralize the normal disposition of many residents here.

My first experienced of earthquake happened when I was in Grade IV (year 1981) as the 'alignment of planets' in our solar system occurred. Due to the gravitational pull of every planet and moons, those periodic quake occurrences where like just lying in a hammock as if lulling you to sleep. No imminent danger happened during the period.

But sudden but massive earthquakes usually happened in our region (Bicol) due to the volcanic activity of Mount Mayon in Albay.

The Ruby Tower tragedy in Baguio (in the 90s) was the next unforgettable earthquake scenario in the country.

Other earthquakes usually occur near the shorelines of the archipelago. Most of the vulcanologists in the country inform people that tectonic plates are moving under the Philippine islands due to volcanic activities such as magma movement or the lava explosion (volcanic eruptions).

Since then, the usual safety zones away (4 to 5 kilometers away) from volcanoes are established.

Warnings are given to mountaineers whenever sudden seismic activities occur during their treks near those volcanoes.

During earthquakes, tsunamis can occur near the seashore, like in Phuket, Thailand or in Japan.

Safety grounds should be noted or be informed to tourists whenever such event happens.

Magnitude 8 earthquakes since 1900

List of Massive earthquakes that occurred since the start of 19th century (Photo Source: cmglee c/o Wikipedia thru Capture-a-Screenshot)
List of Massive earthquakes that occurred since the start of 19th century (Photo Source: cmglee c/o Wikipedia thru Capture-a-Screenshot) | Source

7.2 quake shocks Cebu & Bohol

NATIONAL TREASURE. Basilica Minore del Sto Niño in Cebu City loses its belfry to the 7.2-magnitude earthquake.( Photo Source: Jose Farrugia)
NATIONAL TREASURE. Basilica Minore del Sto NiƱo in Cebu City loses its belfry to the 7.2-magnitude earthquake.( Photo Source: Jose Farrugia)

7.2 quake shocks Cebu, Bohol c/o INQUIRER.net

Quotes on Earthquake

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.
-Frederick Douglass

I am grateful to President George W. Bush for PEPFAR, which is saving the lives of millions of people in poor countries and to both Presidents Bush for the work we've done together after the South Asia tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake.
-William J. Clinton

We know we cannot underestimate the importance of emergency planning in our region, nor can we assume we'll have ample warning time. If an earthquake or terrorist attack hits, we won't necessarily have advance alerts or opportunities to double- and triple-check our plans.
-Ellen Tauscher

On behalf of my native Japan, I am grateful to the culinary community and hospitality industry for working together to raise much-needed funds to aid the tsunami and earthquake victims.
-Masaharu Morimoto

Note: These quotes were delivered by personalities who care for the salvation of humanity when natural disasters, like earthquake, happen.

A "ground rupture" pushed up a stretch of ground by up to three metres (10 feet), creating a wall of rock above the epicenter.

This photo taken on October 22, 2013 shows residents standing next to a huge crack creating a rock wall in the village of Anonang, Inabanga town, Bohol province brought about by the 7.2-magnitude quake which hit the province October 15 (AFP/File)
This photo taken on October 22, 2013 shows residents standing next to a huge crack creating a rock wall in the village of Anonang, Inabanga town, Bohol province brought about by the 7.2-magnitude quake which hit the province October 15 (AFP/File)

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7 comments

ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

I can relate to your hub, since I have witnessed the massive earthquake of Gujarat on 26th January, 2001 with the magnitude of 7.7 or above on the Richter scale. It had killed almost 20,00 people in India and other neighbouring areas and destroyed several buildings. I can understand the trauma of the affected people and believe me, the memories are always fresh in mind.

Very nice, useful and informative hub about Earthquakes, its preparedness and Earthquake prone areas of the world.

Voted up and informative!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Here in Washington State we are well aware of earthquake preparation. Great information here my friend.


cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

cmoneyspinner1tf 3 years ago from Austin, Texas

I have never experienced an earthquake. And I hope to die and leave this world never having experienced an earthquake. Excellent HUB!


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 3 years ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

@ ChitrangadaSharan: Thank you for sharing your sympathy with us. It's been like we always live in fear due to such natural disaster (earthquake) ready to rumble us any time of the year.


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 3 years ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

@ billybuc: Thanks for the added info, Sir Bill. Earthquake preparedness should be one of the priorities here in my country. Sadly, it is always shadowed by too-much politicking.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

Hi travel man1971!

I just came back to make the correction in my previous comment. The official number of people killed in India and neighbouring countries was 20,000.

You are right, anyone who experiences natural disasters of such magnitude, lives the rest of his life in constant fear.


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 3 years ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

@ cmoneyspinner1tf: Wow! Ms. Treathyl. It's good for you not being troubled by tremors caused by earthquake. You're one of a lucky lady.

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