September 26, 2022

To prepare for the “Big One”, Baguio having experienced major earthquakes is trying to make giant steps to become earthquake-resilient.

City Planning and Development Officer, Arch. Donna Tabangin, said the city government is not prepared yet to rate how ready the city is when it comes to disasters, but it is the reason the cityis now fast-tracking the updating of the its land use and zoning plans to mainstreamdisaster and climate change risks of the city.

“Only when we have information from these plans will be the best time we can rate ourselves how ready we are,” Tabangin said.

At any rate, she said the executive department has put into place the necessary framework for disaster risk reduction and management to be ready for possible occurrence of disasters like the Big One through contingency plans for different hazards in the city.

Tabangin said CPDO is currently developing the digital twin of the city, which is a three-dimensional representation of the city’s assets, particularly built-up assets to validate it this time as they add on the layers of emerging natural hazards and risks.

“We are dependent on what the researchers would give the city, most especially those from the Department of Science and Technology and universities. We are dependent on them for the detailed information about our city so that we can add more to the layers that we are developing as we complete our land use, the digital twin, and updated zoning ordinance backed by scientific information and ground validation,” she said.

Tabangin added the city need to get further information on who are the people at risk, where they are located, and what the possible disasters are, which are one of the parameters to be able to simulate different scenarios and the magnitude of disasters that may happen.

“The best situation for the city is for us to know whatever type of disasters that may happen, we know the exact numbers and we know the contingencies the city needs to put into place,” she said.

In line with this, the DOST-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology launched on Sept. 8 the Baguio City Ground Shaking Hazard Maps (BCGSHM), which is a compilation of maps that provide information on the levels of ground motion and site response during strong earthquakes.

It is based on the characteristics of the underlying soil and rock layers and effects of specific topography, and in this case, the mountainous terrains such as Baguio City. 

These maps can be used as reference by experts in designing and constructing earthquake-resilient buildings in the city.

The BCGSHM is one of the outputs of the “Passive Seismic Stratigraphy of Irregular Topography Applicable to Mountainous Areas of Baguio City” project of the DOST.

DOST-Cordillera Director Nancy Bantog said they consider the project as a significant milestone since Baguio City and soon La Trinidad, Benguet are the country’s pilot study for seismic investigation using methodologies that are location specific and applicable to the mountainous city of Baguio and La Trinidad.

Bantog said considering the impact of the July 16, 1990 earthquake, the maps as a result of the research can also help the city government in gaining additional information on how to deal and help mitigate the risks of future earthquakes as well as advise stakeholders on the parameters to consider in building designs, making them more prepared at the least in terms of early warning, land use planning, building infrastructure, and works assessment in the city. – Hanna Lacsamana