When will the City ever learn?

Today, at 3AM, I felt the earth quake. Strong because it shook up the house. These days, I’m still awake around that time because of work. After the quake, I realized the dogs in the neighborhood had been howling for about half an hour before the tremor. I remembered that in 1990 fowls and dogs were agitatedly clucking and barking several minutes before the earthquake. You understand these things very clearly only in retrospect.

As an evaluator, I’m taken to disaster risk reduction specifically, resilience. My experience of the 1990 earthquake has had a hand in my decision to focus in this area. I know how it feels to be a victim-survivor of a natural disaster. It drives home the fact that a human being for all his celebrated intelligence and “lord over all”-ness is reduced into a helpless bundle of quaking flesh and bones in the face of Nature’s rumblings. It’s stark naked life-altering fear. And I don’t ever want to experience it again. Or that others will.

But it’s just so sad and at the same time frustrating that locals especially decision-makers at City Hall have not learned the lesson. Buildings above the allowed height are given the go-signal to be constructed right along Session Road too. Zoning when it is ordained isn’t evident, looking at the lay of the land. At Camp 7 and Marcos Highway, either side of the mountains are rifed with substandard and haphazardly-placed housing. There’s nothing to be seen in terms of disaster risk reduction measures or the building of resilience in the community. No early warning system tested and set up. If the quake at dawn today was at an intensity equal or greater than in 1990, perhaps everybody had died in their sleep. I was the only person awake in the house and I thought I’d rouse up the others if the quake came a second time. It didn’t thank goodness.

Further, the occurrence of this morning’s quake shows despite praying that it won’t happen again well it did. Because that’s the natural order of Nature, which implies that besides praying this City needs to do something tangible. I mean, how can God help us survive if we’re all just kneeling 24/7 waiting for His magic? We need to get up after entrusting ourselves to Him and do our part and best, sooner.

The City, close to 21 years precisely after July 16, 1990, has become, ironically, more vulnerable than ever. And, as what a former colleague and expert in DRR tells me, a disaster waiting to happen. Again. You can’t then help have anger and despair wash over you because of the fact that your security and future are largely in the hands of other members in the community by the decisions they make. And doing nothing is a decision.

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