After the Great East Japan Earthquake that hit the Tōhoku region of Japan in March 2011, the Philippine media quickly began reporting horror stories about what would happen if a big earthquake were to hit Metro Manila. Apparently, studies earlier this decade—some of which were kept secret by the government for a number of years—showed that we are woefully unprepared.
However, most of the discussion focused on what needs to be done on a governmental level; there was very little advice about what we as individuals could do to prepare ourselves. As I began to do some research, I found that many resources are available online but most are United States-centric.
While the principles of preparedness are independent of location and scenario, I thought it would be useful to have some information set in a context for the specific needs of Metro Manila inhabitants. My aim is for this website to fill that gap.
What we can do
During a large-scale natural or man-made disaster, we cannot expect to depend on emergency services or the government; all resources will be stretched to their limit. Our neighbors and friends will also be busy trying to save their own family and property. It may be several days or even weeks before help comes so we must plan to help ourselves until the crisis passes.
Nevertheless, helping yourself doesn't mean isolating yourself. Depending on the scale of the disaster, we may also need to help with rebuilding our community afterwards.
Preparedness begins at home
We may hear that Manila is not prepared to handle a major disaster but there are many things we can do to minimize the impact to our own families. Preparedness begins at home and preparing Manila means ensuring that enough families take simple steps to look after themselves.
I've been asked why this site is about emergency preparedness in Manila and not the whole country. After all, we need the entire Philippines to be prepared. This is true but I live in Manila and can't really speak about the needs of other cities. While much of the information here can be applied anywhere, the idea behind the site is to have as much local information as possible.
Prepare Manila should really be only the first of many others. People in other cities can create their own emergency preparedness sites which we can link together under a Prepare Philippines network. Currently Prepare Philippines forwards to here but once others create their own sites, it will be a directory that links to websites for the relevant city.
This way we can share general tips but also provide local information that's relevant to the residents of the respective cities. It's also important for each local group to be set up and controlled by their own members within that location to avoid a single point of failure. A loose network of independent sites is more robust that having everything centrally coordinated.
If you've already set up a site or plan to do so in the future, please let me know and I'll add you to the Prepare Philippines directory.