Do preventive maintenance of heritage structures before 'Big One' – experts
MANILA, Philippines – The magnitude 6.7 earthquake that struck Surigao on February 10 is a reminder of the need to protect the country’s heritage structures before the “Big One” strikes, according to experts. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)
As the Philippines is situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is vulnerable to frequent earthquakes. Many parts of the country, including Manila, are home to centuries-old buildings and churches. (READ: How vulnerable is Manila to earthquakes?)
Escuella Taller de Filipinas Foundation (ETFFI) and other institutions have organized an international symposium on disaster risk reduction through preventive maintenance from February 27 to March 2. This is expected to bring to Manila more than 40 experts from around the world to share their knowledge and expertise on maintaining heritage structures.
The other organizers are the University of the Philippines College of Architecture, the Manila Observatory, the Archdiocese of Manila, and the Spanish Ministry of Education and Sports.
The 2013 Bohol earthquake saw centuries-old structures and churches either heavily damaged or totally destroyed. A huge amount is needed to repair them, according to experts.
Antonio La Viña, Manila Observatory executive director, said the preventive maintenance of heritage sites can help the country in terms of disaster management, as these become less vulnerable to hazards if well-maintained.
Jeffrey Cobilla, ETFFI technical team head, explained that simple maintenance like cleaning, using only a brush and water, can go a long way in the future.
“Simple cleaning – all we use for cleaning the walls are brush and water, and that's it. We don’t use chemicals. For removal of plants, we use a cheap bolo. A brush and a bolo, compared to a scaffolding for example. It’s [maintenance] definitely cheaper,” Cobilla said.
About 30 to 40 heritage structures are found all over the country, according to Cobilla, all vulnerable to any hazards.
“I believe every property is vulnerable to any threat. Again, the vulnerability, as we believe, increases as the maintenance decreases. So all of those are vulnerable one way or another,” he said.
He highlighted the significance of heritage structures.
"They are declared as national interest. It defines, it tells us of our culture, of our history, of what we are….If we don’t maintain them, if we don’t safeguard them, that's a reflection of how we value ourselves,” Cobilla said. – Rappler.com