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Inter-Agency Committee for Documenting and Establishing Database on the July 1990 Earthquake

The July 16 Luzon EarthQuake

A Technical Monograph



We conceived of this technical monograph on the July 16, 1990 Earthquake in a symbolic way as a medium by which we can remember those who have died, were seriously injured and have lost their loved ones. It is also a most fitting way to honor those who have helped us and who continue to help us through rehabilitation efforts or the studies that will tame earthquakes through preparedness and risk management.

Beyond this symbolic value, this monograph has utmost practical importance for the Philippines, a country which has now realized itself not only to be in the "developing" stage but also in the "disaster-prone" category. I am sure that the prospective readers of this Compendium share both our experience and concern, being members of the same "Ring of Fire" club or simply being concerned scientists and experts who believe that the search for knowledge is best served by sharing knowledge.

During the last two decades, the Philippines has suffered several devastating earthquakes. In 1968, 200 people died when the Ruby Tower collapsed in a 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Manila. More than 6,000 people died when a tsunami caused by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake in the Moro Gulf hit them in 1976. Then we had the July 16, 1990 earthquake whose devastation is so far unequaled in deaths, property damage and psychological shock.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) immediately initiated rehabilitation efforts after the July 16 earthquake. Livelihood programs for the victims and the rehabilitation of damaged watersheds were implemented. These, as well as the efforts of other government agencies and non- governmental organizations, however, are mostly of a curative nature and are not enough. There must be preventive approaches developed, if not against earthquakes (which we cannot prevent), at least in terms of early warning, land use planning, improved building codes, and the like. President Aquino thus signed on August 6, 1990 the Memorandum Order creating the "Inter-Agency Committee on Documenting and Establishing Database on the July 1990 Luzon Earthquake".

This Inter-Agency Committee chaired by DENR and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was tasked to undertake a unified, systematic and scientific documentation of information on earthquakes, particularly the July 16 killer quake for future planning and research. This is one product of the Inter Agency Committee.

The results of direct or related studies on the July 16 earthquake gain additional importance now that there is a need to again generate public interest and concern at the highest levels of government on how best to deal with earthquakes. Over the past months, the July 16 "Killer Earthquake" seemed to have taken the backseat in a series of prominent happenings including the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and the national elections. For a short while, interest was revived by the release in the news media of the Marikina or "Punongbayan" Fault. But time has again eroded the attention focused accorded it. Those who have been to Baguio City, one of the most devastated areas during the July 16 earthquake, can hardly see any of the fear, sorrow, shock and ruins that characterized the city then. Almost everything has gone back to normal including the persistent and increasing applications for subdivision development in the steep slopes of the city.

We certainly do not want to generate intense interest and concern on earthquakes with another earthquake. The scientific information and the practical recommendations coming from the contributors to this monograph would surely be more than enough. In a sense, this is much better as we can look at what had happened and what we can do in a more objective, organized and even optimistic outlook.

To have learned nothing from the tragic events of July 16 would be callousness of the highest degree. To have done nothing to develop strategies to prevent injury and damage should another earthquake occur would be irresponsibility of the most serious proportions.

It may well be for us to remember how those trying to save schoolchildren pinned by concrete slabs, for lack of proper equipment, had to commandeer hydraulic jacks from passing vehicles. Those who have relatives in Baguio City can still recall the fear and the anxiety of not knowing what happened to their loved ones because of broken communication lines. In the mosaic of collapsed buildings we should again take note of questions related to siting considerations, risk assessment, structural foundations, architectural and civil engineering designs, buffer Ones and safety corridors.

Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr.

The July 16 1990 Luzon Earthquake Rupture
Inventory and Characterization of Landslides induced by the 16 July 1990 Luzon Earthquake
Mapping of Areas Affected by Liquefaction during the 16 July 1990 Earthquake
The 16 July 1990 Luzon Earthquake and its Aftershock Activity
Soil Study of Area Damage due to Liquefaction during the 16 July 1990 Philippine Earthquake
Vital Engineering Lessons from the Earthquake of July 16, 1990
Quantifying Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Premonitory Animal Behavior of the July 16, 1990 Luzon Earthquake
Households and Communities in a Post-Earthquake Situation: Lessons on Survival and Self-Reliance
Organizational Response to the July 1990 Luzon Earthquake Disaster
Psychosocial Issues in Disasters
Management Strategies for Earthquake-Related Psychosocial Problems Community-Based Interventions
Some Implications of the July 16, 1990 Earthquake on Urban and Regional Planning in the Philippines