Philippine economy

#MMShakeDrill: Tapping the youth for earthquake response

David Lozada
#MMShakeDrill: Tapping the youth for earthquake response
When the West Valley Fault moves, what roles will Metro Manila youth take?

MANILA, Philippines – In preparation for the Metro Manila-wide earthquake drill on July 30, the National Youth Commission (NYC) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Tuesday, July 14, conducted an enlistment workshop for youth leaders interested to help in disaster response.

“Our first responders in times of disasters are the youth. They’re always first in the disaster sites and in relief operations. The intention, the energy, the dedication is definitely there,” NYC Commissioner Kit Cruz said. 

Cruz said the workshop hopes to equip the Metro Manila youth with the proper knowledge and skills needed to prepare and respond to a major earthquake.

Set at 10:30 am on July 30, the metro-wide earthquake drill is part of Oplan Metro Yakal, MMDA’s main effort in preparing for a powerful earthquake that could stike the capital region.

According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PhiVolcs), Metro Manila is due for the “Big One” – a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that will occur if the West Valley Fault moves. 

The death toll may reach around 35,000 within the first hour after the earthquake, and there may be at least 100,000 injured, according to a study. In Quezon City alone, more than half of residential areas may be leveled by such a tremor.

Volunteers needed

Under Oplan Metro Yakal, MMDA is recruiting 8,000 able-bodied men and women as volunteers for its disaster response team.

The response so far has been overwhelming, according to MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, as more than 288,000 individuals have already signed up. MMDA is expecting to get more volunteers come July 30.

“We hope to attract 5-6 million residents of Metro Manila, with observers coming from (nearby provinces)….It’s everyone’s responsibility to be safe and not be part of the casualties. We’re having this drill to prepare us for what’s about to come,” Tolentino added.

The agency has already trained around 184,000 volunteers, including members of the police and the armed forces.

During the workshop, the youth participants were asked to fill up a skills inventory sheet to determine which area of disaster response they can help in – first aid and life support, camp management, or basic fire fighting, among others.

“We want to train the youth to be first responders not just in their communities but within their families. I don’t want anybody to be in body bags,” Tolentino said.

NYC has been pushing for a bigger role for the youth in disaster preparedness and response. On July 1, the commission inked a deal with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) encouraging all local government units to include youth representatives in their disaster councils.

Small steps

MovePH Executive Director Rupert Ambil talked about Project Agos and the importance of information in times of disasters, for both the public and the government.

ROLE OF YOUTH. MovePH Executive Director Rupert Ambil encourages the youth to share stories and best practices online. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

“In all my years covering disasters as a newsman, I’ve seen how communication tools have changed. Information is very critical for people in the field,” Ambil said in Filipino. 

He added that the youth has a big role in educating their families about disaster preparedness.

“We don’t have to be all disaster responders. By simply liking and sharing stories and best practices on social media, we can spread awareness on earthquake preparedness to our networks,” Ambil said. 

Ambil also announced the partnership between Rappler’s citizen engagement arm MovePH and the MMDA.

MovePH will help the MMDA crowdsource earthquake drill efforts and initiatives from the private sector and the public. These will be plotted on the Project Agos alert map, which already incorporated the MMDA’s hazard maps for Metro Manila. The news agency also created videos and stories informing the public on what to do during earthquakes. 

“Disaster preparedness is personal. Let’s use #MMshakedrill and show others how we’re preparing,” Ambil encouraged the youth. –

MMDA and NYC are Project Agos partners. Interested to become a Project Agos partner? Contact us at 

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