Real Estate Practitioners must be aware of the clear and present dangers of natural disasters.
The Philippines is within the Ring of Fire and in danger of earthquakes. There is indeed a high probability that major cities and even Metro Manila is vulnerable to experience this natural disaster. All we need to see is the past historical data and it will be logical to conclude that we need to be prepared.
Aside from earthquakes, we are open to tropical storms, monsoon rains and flooding brought about our clogged waterways, rivers, and lakes.
While it is true this is the duty of the government to address these chronic problems of natural disasters, however, a specialization in Real Estate Management is now well developed. This discipline is known as Risk Management.
It is my advice that each and every condominium building, start working to organize a professional team of Property Managers with Risk Management Skills.
I wrote early this year, on my predictions for 2013 the year of “Fire and Rain”, that this is not a prophetic gift. No, not at all, but simply on probabilities from historical trends and statistical analysis.
We can start with data gathering and check if our building or home is within an earthquake fault line. We can also check the web, like http://www.nag babaja.com.ph to see if we are located in a flood prone area. The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) also has a geo-hazard map which can be a guide to all of us.
Knowing these facts will enable us to act ahead, be prepared, train for team work and acquire the necessary equipment for survival.
A good Property Manager must be two to three steps ahead should a disaster strike. Trading is available under the Red Cross of the Philippines, Fire Department, National Disaster council and the like.
Internationally renowned, RICS has special courses on Risk Management. Should you desire this as a career, then it will be good to study and learn the science and art of Risk Management.
Another group were we can get more information and guidelines are from non- life insurance corporations. Insurance corporations are experts in the study of risks, natural disasters and their probabilities.
A prudent Property Manager knows the importance of having property insured from whatever eventuality.
We wonder how a high-end luxury condominium building, developed by one of the top developers in the Philippines, suffered a gas leak explosion. Did not the Property Manager make the necessary routine check for a probability of a gas leak? Did they sought advice from geologists that the gas pipes are beneath the fault line? A UP Geologist warned that BGC gas pipes are sitting atop fault lines. If Risk Management guidelines were strictly followed, then this disaster may have been avoided and precious lives saved.
We are all aware that Metro Manila lies in the Valley Fault System, formerly known as the Marikina Valley Fault System. It extends from San Mateo, Rizal to Taguig City on the south and running through the cities of Makati, Marikina, Parañaque, Pasig and Taguig.
The fault moves every 200 years and for this current time, the 200 years has already lapsed. The “Big One” can happen anytime with magnitude of 7 or higher within Metro Manila and the expected death toll is predicted to be as high as 35,000 and some 120,000 or higher injured with more than three million needed to be evacuated.
“So far the little-known 200-year earthquake cycle in Metro Manila has already lapsed so this nightmare can happen anytime. We need to prepare now and be ready for the worst scenario. That is why we are partnering with MMDA,” Philippine Medical Association president Dr. Leo Olarte said in an article in Philippine Star.
“A once-in-200-years earthquake that will hit the Philippines can wipe out 20 percent of Metro Manila. Under the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study a 7.2-magnitude quake will separate Metro Manila into four regions due to the collapse of buildings, destruction of elevated highways and bridges,” he added.
PMA is now partnering with Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in emergency responses in the event the earthquake strikes thru MMDA’s project, Oplan Metro Yakal. Under the plan, the evacuation sites are the Veterans Golf Course in Quezon City, the Villamor Golf Course in Pasay City, the Wack Wack Golf Course in Mandaluyong City and the Intramuros Golf Course.
The reclamation area along Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay City will be designated as a temporary mass burial site.
I’m sharing an article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer on earthquake strategies:
- Develop a national system resistant to earthquake impact, including the updating of regulations for earthquake disaster prevention, capacity building for disaster response staff, and installation of modern equipment for disaster management agencies.
- Improve Metro Manila’s urban structure to be resistant to earthquakes, particularly the reinforcement and strengthening of buildings, improvement of building codes, and development of design standard for low-cost housing.
- Enhance effective risk management system by preventing secondary effects and damages, strengthening disaster management practices and response capacity, and ensuring access to critical information.
- Enhance community disaster management capacity through self-reliant and mutual-help risk management including disaster awareness through education.
- Formulate reconstruction systems through careful planning and development to prevent further deterioration of urban structures and environmental degradation.
- Promote research and technology development on earthquakes, especially on the mechanism of earthquake occurrence, estimations of earthquake motion, damages and comprehensive disaster conditions.
Aside from earthquake, we also have other disasters that happen every year. Typhoons and habagat creates havoc. In a scientific research done in the past, scientists warned that climate change is changing the weather patterns and is the cause of stronger rains and storms.
Mindanao before was rarely hit by stronger typhoons until it was hit by Typhoon Pablo, one of the world’s deadliest disasters. The region is now being hit by typhoons frequently, and earthquakes too as the region were rattled by earthquakes last week.
We don’t have to blame rains for flooding in Metro Manila. Poor urban development, lack of urban renewal, garbage disposal problems and informal settlers are also a cause of flooding.
In the 2013 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) warned that in terms of extreme scenarios, the biggest absolute losses are expected to be in the Philippines.
The report entitled “Creating Shared Value: The Business Case for Disaster Risk Reduction”, it indicates that Asia will continue to bear the effect of economic losses due to disasters unless the private sector makes disaster risk management a core part of business investment strategies.
“We are saying that the worst is yet to come because, in any given part of the world, most of the disasters that could possibly happen have not yet happened. In addition, our exposure, particularly here in Asia is increasing,” said Andrew Maskrey, the report’s lead author. “More economic assets, more population in hazard-prone areas means more risk and bigger disasters.”
Maskrey also said that “It’s time for business to come in from the cold on this issue and as they become more risk sensitive and choose places not only for the lower risks but because these locations can manage those risks very well, it will then encourage countries to start investing more in risk management.”
We can learn from the Bible how Noah built his arc in preparation for the great flood. My late father, who always was ahead of his time, was a realist yet always prepared. Like my father, those who suffered much during World War II had instinctive talent for being prepared.
One may say Pappy Ramon was a bit paranoid, but his preparedness gave the family peace of mind, security, and happiness.
Some of the safety features that my father introduces in the home he built for his 13 children were the following:
- Several Fire exists 5 on the ground floor, and four on the 2nd floor..
- Air raid shelter cum secret hiding place in the basement, with escape hidden windows to the garden
- Inter- connecting hidden doors to all the bed rooms, situated in the closets.
- Trap doors to the Basements connecting the master’s bedroom with the children’s room.
- Trap doors on the ceilings, connecting an access from the 2nd floor Bed rooms to the Maids rooms, drivers quarters and garage.
- We had access to various fire arms, a rifle and two shotguns
So, we were indeed safe. We always had police dogs, and yes our home was open. No high wall, no wires, only a simple fence with ornamental plants and beautiful bougainvillea bushes.
Our home at 249 Don Miguel St. San Juan was a very special home. Beyond all telling and even if dangers of disaster stuck, we were all prepared what to do.
To end, I wish to share another family secret. My father was even prepared to evacuate the family to Australia via a large, custom made fishing vessel. The 30-footer two marine engine ships was built by my grandfather, a lumber expert and adventurer. With his team from Navotas, I saw them building that special fishing vessel. It had two cabins; radar and top of the line radio equipment, and huge storage for ice were the fish were kept.
Stella Maris, the Noah’s Ark of my dad, was one of his biggest projects. And he did this only for the safety, security and future of his large family. This is what a Risk Manager ought to be, like a prudent man of a large family, only thinking of the safety and security of the family and providing for their needs.
With sources from: Wikipedia, Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer and Manila Bulletin