The “Big One” is said to be a big-magnitude earthquake with a projected death toll of about 34,000 and a potential injury count of 114,000, not to mention the capacity to damage 340,000 houses.

The last major quake to hit the Philippines was in 1990, with a recorded magnitude of 7.7 on the Richter scale. It took the lives of more than a thousand people. Affected areas took more than a year to recover, despite the earthquake lasting only 45 seconds.

In 2015, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismoloy (PHIVOLCS), and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) worked together to study 18 earthquake scenarios, according to a report by Kristine Sabillo published in Asia News Network. Projections included a 7.2 magnitude earthquake from the West Valley Fault and an off-shore 7-to-9 magnitude earthquake from the Manila Trench, with a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hitting Manila Bay, also nicknamed the “Big One”.

“The larger the earthquake, the longer the shaking,” PHIVOLCS Director Renato Solidum, Jr. told Asia News Network.

Dogged determination

The University of the Philippines (UP) MMDA Vanguard (UPMV) K9 Search and Rescue (SAR) Corps is a non-profit organization that plans to involve dog enthusiasts in preparation for the worst-case earthquake scenarios through search-and-rescue basics.

Since the organization’s inception in 2017, the UPMV’s SAR program has already produced six volunteer batches ready to help communities during major disasters. The group recently upgraded its program by working together with UP Resilience Institute and UP College of Veterinary Medicine, all the while expanding to include the Los Banos campus.

“UP MMDA Vanguard K9 has become an epitome of volunteerism, not only in community-based response, but also in answering calls in different parts of the Philippines,” UPMV K9 Corps Engr. Ruben “Jon” C. Sarmiento, Jr. said in a statement.

The K9 SAR team was deployed to Barangay Ucab in Itogo, Benguet on September 19, 2019, and previously to Baler, Aurora on August 1, 2019, to help search for a plane and its pilot.

“Helping others always brings out the best in us,” Sarmiento added. “Failure cannot take root when one works from the heart.”

Paw-sitive vibes

On its second year, the UPMV K9 Corps celebrated with a fundraiser at the UP Department of Military Science & Tactics Complex. Funds will be used to improve the organization’s training facilities, acquire rescue deployment equipment, and launch UPMV’s Therapy Dog training program. They also unveiled a new logo for their Animal Assisted Intervention Program.

Human-dog relationships were tested during the mini-obstacle course Search Dog Challenge. Free dog checkups were provided, along with take-home freebies.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s January 2020 issue.

You might want to read:
– Earthquake ready: Safety tips for animal companions
– Working dogs in the limelight
– How to keep you and your pets safe during volcanic ashfall