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OnMyWay

Baguio - A Disaster Waiting To Happen?

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I've been going to Baguio for around 7 years now, usually once or twice per year to visit my wife's relative's and friends.  I enjoy the family there and the weather, as do the wife and kids.

As noted in other discussions, the traffic has gotten really bad there most of the time.  The first few times I was there, if you avoided the downtown area, you would not encounter much traffic.  Now, with the opening of the TPLEX expressway, cars are rushing into Baguio, causing lots of congestion all over.  Based on what I see in my BIL's neighborhood, there are many more car owners in Baguio as well.

However, that is not what my post is about.  Every time I go to Baguio, I see massive high rise construction going up on what appear to be fragile hillsides and ridges.  I'm not talking about professionally engineered hotels, offices, etc.  I'm referring to really tall residential buildings built on relatively tiny lots, and I would guess that most do not have any permitting.

For instance, where our family lives, access is by driving down a narrow road perched on the crest of a ridge, until you get down to their area, where it is still super hilly, but more spread out.  Along this ridge, on both sides, residents or others have been building helter skelter.  Tall concrete structures using at best, a cement mixer, as there is no large truck access.  4, 5, 6, and more levels, starting on a steep slope and rising high about the road.

As most know, Baguio and Luzon had a devastating earthquake in 1990.  Over 1600 people died in the 7.7 quake that was centered far southeast of Baguio City, but Baguio had severe damage.

I see all of this construction and I am really alarmed.  There is no way all of these amateur high rises are going to hold up in a big earthquake.  And there are thousands of small structures that will collapse as well.

Senator Dick Gordon has recognized the issue and they are trying to do something about unchecked development, but I am really afraid that mother nature will wipe the slate clean, once again.  Scary!  I grew up in S. California, living with earthquakes.  Each one was a learning experience for the people and building engineers.  In Baguio, it appears nothing was learned and the big earthquake is long forgotten.

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This is what happened after succession local government in Baguio conveniently ignored urban development and planning originally set by Daniel Burnham.

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Yeah, Baguio checked off most of the boxes on my list of what I was looking for in a place to live in the Philippines 7 years ago, and I lived there over 2 years. With the growth and increased traffic since then I am now open to exploring other options. I would still like to live in a more moderate climate at elevation and have access to quality medical care plus the amenities of a medium sized city.

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I'm going out on a limb but I think the mayor's office of Baguio is running the midnight oil in selling his approval signature for some of these building permits.  Perhaps senator Gordon should look into that.

Meanwhile, natural and man made calamities such as landslides and flooding, due to illegal deforestation could result where a whole side of a mountain collapsing and burying parts of the city.  

It is.....what it is.  

 

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47 minutes ago, Jake said:

I'm going out on a limb but I think the mayor's office of Baguio is running the midnight oil in selling his approval signature for some of these building permits.

That might be true for commercial development, but for the residential, I don't think anyone bothers with permits.  My BIL built their 4 story apartment building from his design and never had to bother with permits.  Lately we have been staying on the top floor when we visit.  He is a trained physical therapist so I am sure it is built well!  :shock_40_anim_gif: Actually, their mentor and benefactor is a retired Swiss engineer, and he had oversight on the project.  He was also the mastermind behind the huge concrete water tank they built.  I think it holds 200 cubic meters and if a quake ever takes it down, big trouble!

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I'm trying to post this video from FB.  Hope it works.

 

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I remember the 1990 earthquake very well, as it was the date of my first arrival in the Philippines. I was actually in the air at the time though, as my first port of call was Cebu, and I'd just changed planes in Manila. 

I was in Baguio fairly recently, and definitely share the O.P's concerns. There are certainly a lot of properties I'd hesitate to even cross the threshold into.... let alone sleep in, so precarious do they appear.  :ohmy:

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Yes, as Jake mentioned about high rises and structures built on hillsides. It's a gamble living in one. Just about anywhere in the Philippines a natural disaster could occur at any time. Earthquakes, volcano eruption, typhoons, tsunamis. One is not totally safe anywhere in the Philippines. You just cannot live in fear. Just be prepared in case something does happen. 

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2 minutes ago, Gratefuled said:

Yes, as Jake mentioned about high rises and structures built on hillsides. It's a gamble living in one. Just about anywhere in the Philippines a natural disaster could occur at any time. Earthquakes, volcano eruption, typhoons, tsunamis. One is not totally safe anywhere in the Philippines. You just cannot live in fear. Just be prepared in case something does happen. 

I live very close to Manila Bay and right next to one of the rivers that flow into it. Even moderate rains take awhile to drain off which means the ground is saturated. If we get any kind of a serious quake, liquefaction is going to swallow a lot of buildings and people. I don't usually think about it unless I see something on tv about it. Only felt 2 quakes since I've lived here in close to 16 years. Ya never know. 

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21 minutes ago, Arizona Kid said:

I live very close to Manila Bay and right next to one of the rivers that flow into it. Even moderate rains take awhile to drain off which means the ground is saturated. If we get any kind of a serious quake, liquefaction is going to swallow a lot of buildings and people. I don't usually think about it unless I see something on tv about it. Only felt 2 quakes since I've lived here in close to 16 years. Ya never know. 

Manila is largely built on reclaimed swampland. Nothing to worry about there.

"Manila. Manila, capital and chief city of the Philippines. ... The city's name, originally Maynilad, is derived from that of the nilad plant, a flowering shrub adapted to marshy conditions, which once grew profusely along the banks of the river; the name was shortened first to Maynila and then to its present form."

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