Baguio City boosting preparations for the 'Big One'

Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 08 2022 10:00 PM

MANILA - While there is no way of predicting when an earthquake will strike, the country’s summer capital is boosting its readiness for the possibility of “the Big One”.

Preparations include the launching of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology’s Baguio City Ground Shaking Hazard Maps (BCGSHM) on Thursday.

The BCGSHM is a compilation of maps providing information on “levels of ground motion and site response during strong earthquakes”, and “references” to allow residents, experts, and the local government to determine how to build earthquake-proof buildings or retrofit them to ensure they can withstand strong earthquakes.


A workshop was also conducted for stakeholders to help them “interpret the data presented in the maps, identify ground conditions onsite ... and estimate the natural vibration of buildings to determine the existing structures that might be vulnerable to intense ground shaking”.

“The magnitude 7.8 July 16, 1990, earthquake is one of the earthquake events that has extensively damaged Baguio City, although the epicenter was near the town of Rizal in Nueva Ecija. Baguio City was most severely affected during this event. The highest number of casualties, as well as the highest count of damaged buildings and houses were found in Baguio City,” Phivolcs director Dr. Teresito Bacolcol said.

A simulation of the 1990 earthquake showed that if the same magnitude rocked the city again, it would result likely in more fatalities and destruction of property.

“We have estimated casualties of 104 only in Baguio City, and a total of 216 of total collapse and 2,000 heavily damaged (infrastructure) but that is simulation ... we should continue to update field and population data,” said Dr. Rhommel Grutas, DOST-PHIVOLCS supervising science research specialist and project leader.

The LGU is also planning to relax requirements to acquire a building permit, since many of its residents can’t apply without a land title.

Baguio City LGU is also updating its information digitally to enhance how it will respond to an earthquake or disaster.

“We are recreating the city in a digital space, even the buildings. Each building that exists in the city is going to be in that space already. Ito na po ang magbubuo dun sa equation na kailangan natin to get to that number, on how many, where they are, ano ang kanilang building type, how vulnerable are those buildings,” said Baguio planning coordinator Donna Tabangin.

Phivolcs supervising science research specialist and geologist Jeffrey Perez told ABS-CBN News earlier that the whole of Metro Manila, parts of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna may experience an Intensity 8 earthquake that is categorized as “Very Destructive.”

A Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) report Risk Analysis Project in 2013 estimated that such quake may result in tens of thousands of human fatalities and hundreds of thousand of injuries.