Saving life, saving heritage
I discussed in my last column the importance of preserving and conserving the national heritage, especially the churches in the Philippines. As Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan Diocese said, the heritage of the Church is the heritage of the country.
On April 22, 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Central Luzon and claimed at least 16 lives and 26 missing, mostly residents of Porac. There were damaged propertie, old and historical churches, commercial establishments and residential houses not only in Pampanga but also in other provinces. Surprisingly, the century old La Loma Catholic Chapel in Caloocan was still intact.
The Archdiocese of Pampanga suffered the most casualties and property damage; at least 24 heritage churches will be closed to give way to inspections on the structural integrity of the churches, seminaries, convents, schools in the archdiocese until their safety is assured. The parish churches in Lubao and Porac suffered major damages. Churches in Angeles, Sta. Rita, Guagua, and Betis sustained some cracks.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio “Ambo” David of Kalookan Diocese instructed all parish priests to conduct a thorough inspection of all churches especially the old ones to ensure the safety of the parishioners during liturgical celebrations. He also instructed all school directors to make sure that schools and other buildings within their jurisdiction are safe for the use of the students and parishioners. Structural Engineers must be consulted.
Then, the following day, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake was experienced in Eastern Samar and Leyte, Cebu and some parts of the Bicol region. On April 23, two earthquakes struck the waters of Davao Oriental and Davao Occidental provinces minutes apart.
Earthquake and fire drills should always be done. As searched in the internet, here are the things to do During an Earthquake: Wherever you are when an earthquake starts, immediately take cover. Stay there until the shaking stops. If you are indoors: Stay inside. Drop under heavy furniture such as a table, desk, bed or any solid furniture. Cover your head and torso to prevent being hit by falling objects. Hold onto the object that you are under so that you remain covered. If you cannot get under something strong, or if you are in a hallway, flatten yourself or crouch against an interior wall. If you are in a shopping mall, go into the nearest store. Stay away from windows, and shelves with heavy objects. If you are at school, get under a desk or table and hold on. Face away from windows. If you are in a wheelchair, lock the wheels and protect the back of your head and neck. If you are outdoors: Stay outside. Go to an open area away from buildings. If you are in a crowded public place, take cover where you would not be trampled. If you are in a vehicle: Pull over to a safe place where you are not blocking the road. Keep roads clear for rescue and emergency vehicles.
Avoid bridges, overpasses, underpasses, buildings or anything that could collapse. Stop the car and stay inside. Listen to your car radio for instructions from emergency officials. Do not attempt to get out of your car if downed power lines are across it. Wait to be rescued. Place a HELP sign in your window if you need assistance. If you are on a bus, stay in your seat until the bus stops. Take cover in a protected place. If you cannot take cover, sit in a crouched position and protect your head from falling debris. AVOID the following in an earthquake: Doorways. Doors may slam shut and cause injuries. Windows, bookcases, tall furniture and light fixtures. You could be hurt by shattered glass or heavy objects. If you are in an elevator during an earthquake, hit the button for every floor and get out as soon as you can. Downed power lines—stay at least 10 meters away to avoid injury. Earthquakes can trigger tsunamis.
After an earthquake. Stay calm. Be prepared for aftershocks. Listen to the radio or television for information from authorities. Follow their instructions. Only make calls if requiring emergency services. Put on sturdy shoes and protective clothing to help prevent injury from debris, especially broken glass. Check your home for structural damage and other hazards. If you suspect your home is unsafe, do not re-enter. If you have to leave your home, take your emergency kit and other essential items with you. Post a message in clear view, indicating where you can be found. Do not waste food or water as supplies may be interrupted. Do not light matches or turn on light switches until you are sure there are no gas leaks or flammable liquids spilled. Use a flashlight to check utilities and do not shut them off unless damaged. Leaking gas will smell. If tap water is still available immediately after the earthquake, fill containers in case the supply gets cut off. Do not flush toilets if you suspect sewer lines are broken.
Carefully clean up any spilled hazardous materials. Wear proper hand and eye protection. Check on your neighbors after looking after members of your own household. Organize rescue measures if people are trapped or call for emergency assistance if you cannot safely help them. If you have pets, try to find and comfort them. If you have to evacuate, take them to a pre-identified pet-friendly shelter. Place a HELP sign in your window if you need assistance. Beware of secondary effects. Although ground shaking is the major source of earthquake damage, secondary effects can also be very destructive. These include landslides, saturated sandy soils becoming soft and unstable, flooding of low-lying areas and tsunamis.
Finally, lead the community in prayer. Prayer has a calming effect in times of emergency. Always keep on praying. Remember, God is always with us, ready to protect us.
Sto. Niño de Pasion Quasi Parish was canonically elevated as a Parish. Its jurisdiction covers Daanghari St. in the North, Pascual St. in the South, Manila Bay in the West and Navotas-Malabon River in the East. The first parish priest is Fr. James Anthony del Rosario. Its mother parish is San Jose de Navotas. It is the 29th parish in the Diocese of Kalookan, the 3rd to be established during the term of Bishop Ambo David.