We conceived of this
technical monograph on the July 16, 1990 Earthquake in a symbolic way as a
medium by which we can remember those who have died, were seriously injured and
have lost their loved ones. It is also a most fitting way to honor those who
have helped us and who continue to help us through rehabilitation efforts or the
studies that will tame earthquakes through preparedness and risk management.
Beyond this symbolic
value, this monograph has utmost practical importance for the Philippines, a
country which has now realized itself not only to be in the
"developing" stage but also in the "disaster-prone"
category. I am sure that the prospective readers of this Compendium share both
our experience and concern, being members of the same "Ring of Fire"
club or simply being concerned scientists and experts who believe that the
search for knowledge is best served by sharing knowledge.
During the last two
decades, the Philippines has suffered several devastating earthquakes. In 1968,
200 people died when the Ruby Tower collapsed in a 7.3 magnitude earthquake in
Manila. More than 6,000 people died when a tsunami caused by a 7.9 magnitude
earthquake in the Moro Gulf hit them in 1976. Then we had the July 16, 1990
earthquake whose devastation is so far unequaled in deaths, property damage and
The Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) immediately initiated rehabilitation
efforts after the July 16 earthquake. Livelihood programs for the victims and
the rehabilitation of damaged watersheds were implemented. These, as well as the
efforts of other government agencies and non- governmental organizations,
however, are mostly of a curative nature and are not enough. There must be
preventive approaches developed, if not against earthquakes (which we cannot
prevent), at least in terms of early warning, land use planning, improved
building codes, and the like. President Aquino thus signed on August 6, 1990 the
Memorandum Order creating the "Inter-Agency Committee on Documenting and
Establishing Database on the July 1990 Luzon Earthquake".
Committee chaired by DENR and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)
was tasked to undertake a unified, systematic and scientific documentation of
information on earthquakes, particularly the July 16 killer quake for future
planning and research. This is one product of the Inter Agency Committee.
The results of
direct or related studies on the July 16 earthquake gain additional importance
now that there is a need to again generate public interest and concern at the
highest levels of government on how best to deal with earthquakes. Over the past
months, the July 16 "Killer Earthquake" seemed to have taken the
backseat in a series of prominent happenings including the eruption of Mt.
Pinatubo and the national elections. For a short while, interest was revived by
the release in the news media of the Marikina or "Punongbayan" Fault.
But time has again eroded the attention focused accorded it. Those who have been
to Baguio City, one of the most devastated areas during the July 16 earthquake,
can hardly see any of the fear, sorrow, shock and ruins that characterized the
city then. Almost everything has gone back to normal including the persistent
and increasing applications for subdivision development in the steep slopes of
We certainly do not
want to generate intense interest and concern on earthquakes with another
earthquake. The scientific information and the practical recommendations coming
from the contributors to this monograph would surely be more than enough. In a
sense, this is much better as we can look at what had happened and what we can
do in a more objective, organized and even optimistic outlook.
To have learned
nothing from the tragic events of July 16 would be callousness of the highest
degree. To have done nothing to develop strategies to prevent injury and damage
should another earthquake occur would be irresponsibility of the most serious
It may well be for
us to remember how those trying to save schoolchildren pinned by concrete slabs,
for lack of proper equipment, had to commandeer hydraulic jacks from passing
vehicles. Those who have relatives in Baguio City can still recall the fear and
the anxiety of not knowing what happened to their loved ones because of broken
communication lines. In the mosaic of collapsed buildings we should again take
note of questions related to siting considerations, risk assessment, structural
foundations, architectural and civil engineering designs, buffer Ones and safety
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