Sunday, July 28, 2019

Earthquake in Batanes

screenshot from the US Geological Survey
click to enlarge
photo from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Calamity has struck the Batanes group of islands. Located at the northernmost part of the Philippines, this location is world renowned for its unique centuries-old architecture that withstood the worst tropical storms.

Today at 4:16 AM they were hit by magnitude 5.4 tremor, followed by a stronger one measuring 5.9 just under four hours later. Another strong jolt happened at 9:24 AM measuring 5.8 in magnitude. Several aftershocks continued throughout the day.

There were 9 fatalities and more than a hundred injured as of this writing. Unfortunately a lot of the fatalities were asleep when the first quake hit early in the morning.

Social media is abuzz with photos of the devastation, injured, and dead.

Batanes in our Hearts

The whole country is deeply affected by this tragedy as it holds a special place in our hearts. It is known to be one of the very few places in the Philippines where there is practically no crime and the local police station closed down for crying out loud. There's an honesty cafe too because of how people there in general are wonderful. Find out more at the Outoftownblog.

The sights here are dreamlike and breathtaking,  them out here. You'll see why people say "I wish I could visit Batanes someday" with reverence. Its got everything: people, sights, culture, and more.

That's why this earthquake was pretty bad and hits home.

Who are the Ivatan? From

Inhabiting the Batanes, a chain of small islands at the northernmost point of the Philippines, were the Ivatans.  Of the island chains, only three islands were inhabited:  Batan, Itbayat, and Sabtang.  The Ivatans of today are considered to be the Christianized surviving group of the ancient people who once inhabited all the islands of Luzon and Taiwan.  
Culturally, the Ivatans have been influenced by the climate of Batanes – often times, exposed to high risks of agricultural disruption, they adopted strategies that ensured their survival.  Due to the frequency of typhoons and drought, they planted root crops that were more resilient to the destructive forces of the environment; these include yam, sweet potato, taro, garlic, ginger, and onion.  
In addition, the Ivatans possessed a unique skill to predict weather, namely thru the study of animal behavior, sky color, wind, and clouds.  For example, upon seeing their livestock take shelter, they too sought shelter.  Although abundant exclusively in the months of March to May, the Ivatans also depend on the flying fish, dibang, and dolphinfish, aravu, that are present on the shores of Batanes.  Unique to their culture is their stone houses adopted from the Spaniards and made of limestone; the walls were as thick as one-meter and able to withstand the terminal passage of typhoons in the Philippines.  The roofs, on the other hand, retained the traditional thick-fabrication of cogon grass designed to weather the buffeting winds.  The vakul, a traditional headgear designed to shield the wearer from the sun and rain, is another cultural feature unique to the Ivatans.

From a Survivalists's point of view, take note of that second paragraph. 

Reality Check

We've had at least 3 other strong quakes to hit us this year, however this one caused the most damage and hurt because of its proximity to a population center. We had much stronger ones but they hit far off the coast line.

All this reminds us that urbanized centers are long overdue for a powerful quake. The government has been taking steps in the last 3 years to prepare for the so-called Big One. We have earthquake drills, and preparedness movements have become almost mainstream. The word "prepper" is almost a household word now due to mainstream infodrives. I'm very alright with that since the term is no longer holds a negative connotation.

If we do get hit tomorrow I'll wonder if my preparations for the damage would be enough? Enough means mitigating damage to our home, preventing and mending wounds, having food, water, and security.

I'll do my part and send some support over there. Let's pull together.

Stay vigilant!

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