MMDA’s #MMShakeDrill: How everything worked

Samantha Bagayas

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MMDA’s #MMShakeDrill: How everything worked
With such a herculean task of keeping the drill under wraps, how did the #MMShakeDrill fare in pulling off its grand surprise?

MANILA, Philippines– Despite a mishap that led to a premature alert, the Metro Manila Development Authority mounted its first ‘surprise’ #MMShakeDrill on Thursday, July 19.

With such a herculean task of keeping the drill under wraps, how did the #MMShakeDrill fare in pulling off its grand surprise?

The surprise

The exact date of the #MMShakeDrill was teased to occur at 3 PM on any day from July 15-21. This was kept a secret to serve as a “mind-setting exercise for the public to always be alert for The Big One.” The Big One is the worst case scenario of a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that would rattle Metro Manila due to the movement of the West Valley Fault. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)

However, two hours before the ‘surprise’ drill, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) sent an alert about the 1pm #MMShakeDrill via short messaging service (SMS). This prompted the MMDA to send its own advisory an hour later.

Originally, the public was set to be notified 5 minutes prior the #MMShakeDrill to retain the element of surprise. (READ: Jolted netizens liken #MMShakeDrill phone alarm to ‘The Purge’ siren)

MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia explained that NTC’s advisory was sent ahead of time, since the NTC expected an SMS delay due to user traffic.

Hindi nila na expect na papasok agad. […] Two hours medyo pwede na natin pagbigyan,” Garcia said.

(They didn’t expect the text messages to send immediately. […] Two hours is still excusable.)

MMDA partnered with the NTC, Globe, and Smart to aid with text blasts and improve communication links.

The quadrants

This year’s #MMShakeDrill simulated Metro Manila’s response to a magnitude 7.2 earthquake dubbed “The Big One.”

Metro Manila was divided into four main quadrants with each quadrant having one assigned evacuation area:

  • Western quadrant (Navotas, Malabon, Manila): Intramuros Golf Course

  • Northern quadrant (Quezon city, Caloocan, VAlenzuela, San Juan): Veterans Memorial Medical Center Golf Course and Quezon Memorial Circle

  • Eastern quadrant (Marikina, Pasig): LRT 2 Santolan Depot

  • Southern quadrant (Pasay, Makati, Paranaque, Las Pinas, Muntinlupa, Pateros, Taguig): Villamor Golf Course

Schools, government offices, and private agencies took part in the #MMShakeDrill following various earthquake scenarios that differed for each quadrant to test disaster preparedness and response. (LOOK: IN PHOTOS: Metro Manila prepares for the ‘Big One’)

Students participate on the 4th Metro Manila simultaneous Earthquake drill in Artaullo High School , Manila.
Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

Keeping true to its realistic simulation of the earthquake, MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim and MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia followed standard protocol and rushed to the different quadrants for situational assessment.

This year, they also visited specific Local Government Units (LGUs) for an evaluation of their resources and the LGU’s respective capabilities in disaster response.

“For the past 3 years, there has been a certain level of awareness that’s done already. For this fourth year, which we’re holding it right now, [MMDA] Chairman said aside from visiting the different quadrants, he wanted to see also the capability of the LGU,” explained Michael Salalima MMDA Chief of Staff.

Further assessments

The #MMShakeDrill will continue its assessment until 12 noon on Friday, July 20.

A panel comprised of select government agencies and private sectors will take part in the evaluation of the #MMShakeDrill to provide observations and points for improvement.

This is the fourth consecutive year that MMDA has staged its #MMShakeDrill. –

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Samantha Bagayas

Samantha Bagayas is the head of civic engagement at Rappler.