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Close to Home | Earthquake!

These past few weeks, Davao Region has experienced earthquakes and almost everyone feels surprised with the magnitude of the quakes. This is not typical for us here in Davao but almost every week, we have been getting these shakes and these are causing worries inwardly. Outwardly, some of our infrastructures crumble little by little, while many do abruptly. The information from Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) about the newly formed faultlines in Davao Region can no longer be taken lightly.

With the most recent quake that happened last October 31 with the magnitude of 6.4 in Davao City, we have seen panic all over the place. Hospital patients were rushed out of the building, with their life support on. A friend who stays in an upscale newly built condo told me how her neighbors rushed to the ground while she decided to stay inside her pad on the 15th floor. Another friend from Davao del Sur texted me to ask for support because her child got caught in a stampede in school during the event. The leg of her daughter needs surgery because of a bone fracture.

If we look closer, many things need to be in place promptly if we are to respond to this phenomenon pro-actively. First, earthquake drills should be given emphasis these days. In schools, there are earthquake drills that happen annually but I do not know about organizations located in corporate centers and factories. Another note on drills is that it must be impressed on all stakeholders that drills must be taken seriously. Panic that may cause stampede get exacerbated when we do not know what to do.

Second, the 72-hour survival kit (others call it Brown Bag). This kit must come in handy in offices, classrooms, vehicles, and especially at home. We just need to be prepared. Kits may include clothes, underwear, blanket, water, crackers, flashlight, battery, powerbank, whistle. I have experienced needing the kit when there was fire in our neighborhood. I was grateful that we have stored some water and crackers, especially when we’re with children. During emergency cases, these supplies become inaccessible.

Third, this is now a call for the infrastructure to be built in a way that is resilient to these kind of natural phenomenon. This is a lot easier said than done but we can no longer settle for less anymore. We have seen how infrastructures were damaged with the movements of the earth. What is this telling us? Maybe it is telling us that it is time to adapt a new way of building. Structural engineer Alan Russell Caracena once shared that earthquakes per se do not really cause casualty but the structures do.

Finally, this last point may be difficult to accept but just because it cannot be proven by the physical senses does not mean that it is totally impossible. I’ll quote some points from an article by Lee Sturgeon Day as she talked about earthquake in the light of spirituality: “Dr. Rudolf Steiner, stated that in the narrow, materialistic viewpoint of modern science, there is no recognition of the part humans play, and have played in the earth’s changes and upheavals, beyond, of course, the awareness that decimating rainforests and polluting oceans have engendered grave consequences.

Our thoughts, feelings, passions and the effect of these on our environment have gone completely unrecognized… Steiner claims that many of the earth’s upheavals are due to the delayed effect of the emotions and passions that humanity indulged in and let loose in those regions. (He describes this in Geographic Medicine).

If we consider the last point seriously not just with our mind but our hearts, then we may now have a glimpse of how responsible we are for our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Had we been thinking well of our region, we would not have been shredding the precious veins of the earth. We would not be razing our forests in the name of development.

I will say this even if it is somehow unsettling to many of us. I personally believe that all the drilling and the hammering of the earth here in our region coupled with unbridled consumerism and wastage has direct or indirect effect to the appearance of many faultlines in our place. It is high time now that we rethink and take the side of Mother Earth. These quakes are but messages to us; these shakes are to awaken us from the deep slumber of our perceived ‘development’.

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