Tips and Guides

How Ready Are We for The Big One?

With the recent earthquake that devastated Surigao a few weeks ago, the call to be more vigilant has once again been raised

Photography: Pixabay and Google Maps

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), with help from the media, has been consistently creating awareness for this terrible catastrophe that has yet to happen. Given the campaigns, guides, and news about it—are we ready?

What is the Big One?

Photo: By Ervin Malicdem (Own Work)

The “Big One” refers to the powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake that will be generated by the West Valley Fault (WVF), which is ripe for movement. This particular 100-kilometer fault is said to move roughly every 400 years, and with the last known major earthquake occurring in 1658, experts say that we will definitely experience this soon.

While the 6.2-magnitude earthquake in Surigao will not trigger the WVF’s movement, Phivolcs stressed that we should all learn from what happened last February 10 as studies have shown that up to 34,000 people can be killed and 100,000 can be injured due to this dreaded earthquake.

The Marikina Valley Fault System

It pays to know if your home and work places are going to be affected by the WVF’s movement. WVF is part of a segment of the Marikina Valley Fault System and traverses the cities of Quezon City, Marikina, Makati, Pasig, Taguig, and Muntinlupa in Manila, as well as part of the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite.

The East Valley Fault System, on the other hand, runs through Rodriguez and San Mateo Rizal. It is horrific to note that these cities are peppered with subdivisions and residential communities—some of which include White Plains and Greenmeadows in Quezon City, and Valle Verde 1 to 6 in Pasig.

How ready are we?

After the announcement, local governments and the media have successfully conducted earthquake drills and awareness campaigns to increase the preparedness of each Filipino. Sadly, despite these efforts, it will be hard to ensure that no one will get hurt during an earthquake.

The campaigns hope to lower down the projected numbers and keep the public well-informed. Phivolcs also has guides on what to do before, during, and after an earthquake that you can download. Keep a copy at home and make sure each family member has it. Get them here.

Here are easy tips to keep in mind as well. Make sure you share them with your friends and family members:


1. Make sure that your house is structurally sound. If you feel that there is a need to retrofit some parts of your house, then do not hesitate to do so. Consult with a licensed architect or a structural engineer to see if your house can withstand an earthquake.

2. Turn off your gas when not in use, and make sure that breakable things and flammable materials are stored on bottom shelves.

3. Secure heavy furniture and appliances to the wall.

4. Study and familiarize yourself with your home and work place. Note which exit points you can take to get out of the building as quickly as possible.

5. Prepare an emergency kit that's complete with first aid must-haves, medicine, food, potable water, flashlights and batteries, a change of clothes, dust masks and a whistle.


1. Do not panic! Keep calm and maintain presence of mind.

2. If your building is structurally sound, do not leave the premises. Remember these words: “duck, cover, and hold.”

3. If you are outside, find an open area that's far from electrical posts, walls, and the like.

4. If you’re driving, stay off bridges. Park your car in an open area.

5. If you are near a body of water, run and stay on higher ground as a tsunami might occur.


1. Evacuate from the building in an orderly manner. Never use the elevators.

2. Do not enter damaged buildings and obey public safety precautions.

3. Check your gas, electrical, and water lines for possible damages. Turn off your main switches.

4. Do not forget to bring your emergency kit.

Phivolcs has prepared a downloadable flyer that we can use to check if our houses are safe. You can download it here. Make sure your preparedness guide is ready, too. Download The Valley Fault System Atlas handbook by registering here.

Sources: Phivolcs | Rappler | Philstar | DOST

PHOTOS: Pixabay | Google Maps | Ervin Malicdem (Relief Map of Manila)

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