Do you live in one of Manila’s flood-prone areas?

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority has identified the following flood-prone areas within Metro Manila:
  • Along H. Lopez Boulevard
  • Along R-10
  • Anda Circle
  • Taft Avenue corner Quirino Avenue
  • Along Abad Santos
  • Along G. Araneta Avenue
  • Mother Ignacia corner Bohol Avenue
  • Timog corner Scout Tobias
  • Along General Kalentong St.
  • P.Sanchez St. corner Fabella St.
  • Martinez St. corner F. Ortigas St.
  • Boni Avenue corner F. Ortigas St.
  • Edsa corner Connecticut
  • Chino Roces corner Edsa
  • Along Gil Puyat
  • Quirino Ave. Plaza
  • Airport Road and Naia Road
  • E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenenue corner Eagle Avenue
  • East Service road-Nichols Interchange
  • East Service road-DBM Avenue
  • Along C.P Garcia Avenue
  • Along Manuel L.Quezon Ave.
  • Along Commonwealth Ave
  • Along Tandang Sora and Ortigas Avenue in front of La Salle St.

I've started mapping the areas on Google Maps. The markings simply highlight the approximate points identified. They do not correspond to the actual area that's expected to flood as this information was not given.
View Manila flood areas in a larger map This is a collaborative project so if you'd like to get involved, please contact me and I'll add you as a collaborator. Continue Reading

The diaper bag as a baby bug-out bag

A diaper bag is one thing that parents of an infant always bring when out of the home. As part of our preparedness planning, my wife and I decided to upgrade our baby's diaper bag to a fully-fledged bug-out bag. The reason for this is that since we're carrying an extra bag anyway, we might as well include some items needed for a baby's emergency kit. The bag hangs off our stroller so the added weight isn't any real inconvenience. My wife wrote an article on her new blog describing her suggestions for what to put in your baby bug-out bag:
  • A minimum of 20 nappies/diapers or enough to last 3 days. These should be kept in a resealable plastic bag to prevent them from getting dirty or wet.
  • Nappy wipes. This is essential for when there is not enough water to wash with. It's better to save clean water for drinking.
  • Small changing mat
  • At least 3 sets of baby clothes, preferably ones that are small, light and suited for hot Manila weather like sandos (vests). A blanket can be used when the weather becomes cooler (see below).
  • 1 or 2 soft towels/blankets to keep warm in cooler weather, and which are also useful for baby to sleep on
  • 1 small, wide-brimmed cloth hat to protect baby from harsh sunlight
  • 1 baby grooming kit with nail scissors or nail cutters, nail file, thermometer
  • 1 small bottle of ethyl or isoprophyl alcohol
  • 1 foldable travel umbrella to protect against rain or sun
  • Oral rehydration salts, which can be purchased at your local drugstore
  • Large clean plastic bags which can be used to lay down as a hygienic sheet, to carry things, and to protect important belongings from dirt and moisture.
  • Bottles and dry formula milk for bottle fed babies
  • Baby's favourite toy or security blanket. This will help to amuse and lift baby's spirits, which can also provide a much-needed mood boost for us parents.
  • Any special medications or creams your baby may need
Bug out bag contents illustration You can read her article at Bubu and mama: Baby Bug-Out Bag Continue Reading

After a disaster, beware of diarrhea

The aftermath of a disaster can often kill more people than the disaster itself and one of the main risks is disease. Poor sanitation caused by the disruption often leads to outbreaks of acute diarrhea. We saw this during Typhoon Ondoy where diarrhea was one of the top killers in evacuation centers. It was also a huge problem in post-earthquake Haiti when a cholera epidemic infected 1,500 people in just a few days. Even during normal times, diarrhea is the 3rd leading cause of child illness and the 4th leading cause of deaths among children less than 5 years in the Philippines. Diarrhea kills through rapid dehydration and children are especially susceptible as they can succumb in a matter of hours. Nevertheless, deaths can be prevented by simply making sure that the patient drinks a lot of clean water with oral rehydration salts. Unfortunately, these are difficult to find after a disaster. Aid workers in Haiti were distressed to find that many were dying for want of something that costs so little.

Simple ways to safeguard your family

There's no reason why your family should suffer from an outbreak of diarrhea.
  • Stock up on Oral Rehydration Salts. These are available from Watsons and Mercury Drug for around Php10 to Php15 per sachet.
  • Stock up on antidiarrheal medications like Diatabs (Loperamide) which are less than Php30 for four capsules.
  • Make sure you have access to clean water for drinking and washing.
  • Eat cooked food or food washed well in clean water.
  • As much as possible, continue with your usual sanitation habits.
Oral Rehydration Salts and Diatabs
Oral Rehydration Salts and Diatabs

Household alternatives

If you don't have any commercially produced ORS at home, suggests the following alternatives:
  • Breastmilk
  • Gruels (diluted mixtures of cooked cereals and water)
  • Carrot Soup
  • Rice water (congee)
  • Fresh fruit juice
  • Weak tea
  • Green coconut water (buko juice)
  • A home-made solution of salt, sugar and if possible, orange juice or mashed banana (see link for recipe and instructions)
Remember: make sure you first check with your pediatrician if these alternatives are suitable for your child.

Additional resources

Continue Reading


Manila is not yet prepared to handle a major disaster. How prepared are you? In times of great catastrophe, you cannot expect to depend on emergency services, the government, or even your neighbors and friends. All resources will be stretched to their limit. It may be several days or even weeks before help comes so you must plan to help yourself until the crisis passes. Depending on the scale of the disaster, you may also need to help with rebuilding your community. Continue Reading

Observations on emergency lighting options

During Typhoon Ondoy, our condo unit was without electricity for almost three days. Although the building was fitted with backup generators, all power was diverted to essential services like elevators and common area emergency lighting. On the day after power was restored, my wife and I visited Ace Hardware in SM Makati to pick up some supplies and were greeted with a crowd of people panic-buying emergency lighting products. By the time we'd arrived in the early afternoon, Ace Hardware's stock was almost gone. I could only imagine that those poor people had been caught out without lighting during the brown-out and were desperately trying to rectify their mistake. Of course, by then it was too late because Metro Manila had already started to return to normal. Fortunately, we'd stocked up on a wide range of emergency lighting long before so although we still had to deal with the heat, at least it didn't have to be in the dark. The picture below shows a few of our emergency lighting devices. A selection of emergency lighting options These range from plug-in rechargeables to hand-crank, D-cell, AA-cell and CRE123 powered lights. A few are multi-purpose devices that also include fan, radio, clock and cellphone charger. The lighting elements ranged from incandescent light bulb, LED and CFL.

What I learned

  1. Don't wait until the emergency itself to buy your kit. This is so obvious but judging from the crowd in SM Makati's Ace Hardware, many people did just that. Like them, you'll most likely end up scrambling after a dwindling supply.
  2. By far the most useful technology combination for area lighting turned out to be LED lights with plug-in rechargeable power source. (In the picture, these are the white box-shaped lamps made by Akari and Omni). They were labelled to last between 20 to 120 hours on a single charge and they kept going throughout the three-day power cut.
  3. For spot lighting, an LED flashlight with CRE123 battery turned out to be the most convenient. (This is the small black flashlight in the picture, a Fenix PD30.) It provided a very bright light with long running time in a tiny package.
  4. The CFL lights were pretty much useless for anything more than a short-term brown-out; although they cast the most pleasant ambient light, they only lasted a few hours before giving up.
  5. I didn't bother with the hand-crank light at all. Perhaps it would have been useful in the most desperate case when all other lighting options were exhausted. In this case, I had many other better options.
  6. The cellphone charge feature on one unit turned out to be very useful.
  7. The incandescent bulb lamps were far outclassed by all other LED units. With the low price and ready availability of LEDs, I don't think there's any compelling reason to buy an incandescent bulb flashlight or lamp.
Of all the models, the one that most suited the purpose of emergency light was the Akari Rechargeable Emergency Light (model AEL 969) which I bought for approx. Php1,100 at Office Warehouse. This included an AM/FM radio, mobile charger and allowed to you switch from four LED (120 hour run time) to 28 LED (50 hour run time). A few weeks after Typhoon Ondoy, I tested the unit again as I was curious to see how long it would last on a full charge. It ran for almost 5 days before discharging. I've been told that in emergencies, it's best to have a light that uses a common power source, such as standard C-cell or AA-cell batteries. The reasoning behind this is that their batteries can be stored for longer and it's easier to find replacements; proprietary rechargeable power packs, on the other-hand, need maintenance and are heavily dependent on a power supply to keep them charged. I do generally agree with this and will always have a few standard flashlights in my kit. However, my experience during Typhoon Ondoy shows that in all but the worst-case scenarios, things would most likely be getting back to normal by the time your rechargeable LED light starts to run down. Continue Reading

Water storage for condo dwellers

Water is always at the top of any disaster preparedness list as it's essential for survival. The generally accepted guideline is to set side 4 liters (1 gallon) of water per person, per day, for drinking and sanitation. Keep in mind that in a tropical country like the Philippines, even the slightest physical exertion is going to leave you dripping with perspiration, thereby causing your body to lose valuable water reserves. While water storage options are readily available, the biggest problem is that they tend to be bulky and need cycling to prevent a build up of harmful bacteria. This can be especially problematic in condo units where space is a premium. Being a condo dweller in Metro Manila with a wife and water-intensive baby, I know first-hand how difficult this can be. The solution I've found is to keep water caches in locations where they have practical every-day use. For example, a plastic jerry can with tap kept by the kitchen sink acts as water storage. Once in a while, we use it for washing dishes before topping up the jerry can with fresh tap water. Plastic jerry cans for water storage The clear plastic jerry can in the picture above holds 20 liters, which is enough to last one person for around 5 days. The blue plastic jerry cans hold just over 6 liters each. These can be purchased from hardware stores like Ace Hardware and True Value. (The 20 liter can was approximately Php300 and the blue 6 liter cans are Php49.) We also keep additional jerry cans in a cupboard and bottled mineral water in the fridge and pantry, as well as a balde (water bucket) in the shower. In total, I estimate that my wife, baby and I can go almost two weeks just using the stored water in our one-bedroom condo unit.

Note: be sure to store as much of your water as possible at floor level. If stored high up, such as on shelving, movement during an earthquake could cause them to fall. This not only risks injuring someone but also means you lose some of your water reserves. Continue Reading

Earthquake risk to Metro Manila

According to the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study, the West Valley Fault System is entering its active phases which may result in an earthquake of at least magnitude 7. Of the all the cities in Metro Manila, seven are highlighted as being most at risk of heavy damage and casualties in the event of a massive earthquake. These are:
  • Marikina
  • Quezon City
  • Pasig
  • Makati
  • Pateros
  • Taguig
  • Muntinlupa
Since governmental disaster management systems will be insufficient to cope with the disaster, it's important that each of us take steps now to reduce its impact. The maps below will help you assess how you could be affected should Manila be hit by a large earthquake. If you live or work in an area highlighted as having a higher risk, it would be wise to take extra precautions.

GMA News fault line map has produced an interactive map showing the Valley Fault System together with nearby landmarks. Hovering your mouse over the red fault line will highlight the landmarks within two kilometers of the fault.

MMIERS Risk assessment maps

The widely referenced Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) maps out risk assessments for both human loss risk and damage to residential buildings. Map showing human loss risk Map showing residential building damage risk Images source: MMIERS presentation downloaded from

Active faults in the Philippines on Google Maps

Edited 22 Oct 2013: Google map added Zoom out and scroll to find your province. Zoom back in for your local area.
View Larger Map Continue Reading

Welcome to

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. Continue Reading