Saturday, February 18, 2006

Landslide: Guinsaugon in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte

I learned of the disaster early in the morning. A landslide swallowed a whole community in the island of Samar. Several news agencies and blogs have written about it:

  1. BBC
  2. Filipino Librarian
  3. Manuel Viloria

I guess there will be a lot of retrospective analysis and discussion about it in the days to come. One thing will not change though, it happened and a community disappeared. One of the document mentioned by the Filipino Librarian is a document called β€œThe Philippine Disaster Management Story: Issues and Challenges, which was published by the Thailand-based Asian Disaster Preparedness Center. Said document, which is available in PDF, HTML, and Word , details the Philippines experience with disaster, from Pre-Spanish to our time. It is an interesting read and quite detailed; aside from listing down the different natural disasters, the document tells us of the practices and safe-measures adopted through the years – this included, but not limited to, the use of the baranggay, rationale behind the design of houses, importance of identifying potential danger points.

Buildings and other Safety Measures

The document actually gives me pause about the soundness of our present building practices and introduces the practicality of the old designs, houses on stilts, the bahay kubo, and the bahay na bata. Types of houses designed to endure the tropical climate (counter humidity) and protect its inhabitants. Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut) were designed to be easily built when Earthquakes strike and be high enough to avoid the flood. The Bahay na Bato (Stone Houses was designed to withstand the ravages of nature by having a bottom heavy foundation and a wooded second floor to lessen the injury that would result if it collapsed. In it you can see two basic approaches to house design and natural disaster. One to adapt and survive, while the later to resist and survive.

Googling the land slide also brings you the web pages of the City of Oceanside, where in you will find these informative links:

  1. Residents should be landslide smart
  2. 4 Tips for Concerned Homeowners on Hillsides
  3. Fact Sheet FS2004-3072 - Landslide Types and Processes
  4. Fact Sheet 0071-00 – Landslide Hazards, What You Can Do If you Live Near Steep Hills?

All this points to disaster preparedness. As Kelvin Rodolfo once said that since the Philippines is located in a geologically dynamic area, earthquake, tsunami and volcanic eruptions we are in area populated by volcanoes called the ring of fire all of us should be prepared for the worse.


Over lunch today, I asked my father, a retired geophysicist, as to what cause the landslide. Did logging cause it? Where there enough trees in the area ? He told me that based on the initial reports that he picked from the news it would seem that this does not seem so. Several factors led to this tragedy –

  1. The steepness of the mountain
  2. The saturation or soaking up level of the ground
  3. The fracturing of the stone bed in the area, the fracturing caused by seismic activity
  4. The amount of rainfall that hit the area


As I finish this post the chance of finding survivors, seem to be fading. Although a government official said that the several people had fled the community a few days ago. However, they had been coming back just before the landslide happened. In another report nearby villages were showing signs of agitation and fear, who could blame them? Manuel Viloria mentions of some uncanny incidences and a woman who warned and predicted of this tragedy.

Hope, pray, help, learn, prepare and act.

An additional post for today

Brokeback Mountain


Blogger vonjobi said...

please forgive me but i can't help noting the juxtaposition...

you start by talking about the mountain that broke. and end by mentioning brokeback mountain.

coincidence? =)

2/18/2006 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger juned said...

Pureky coincidence :)

2/19/2006 03:26:00 PM  

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