The magnitude 7.0 earthquake rocked Luzon on July 27 and had devastating effects, especially in the province of Abra, where the quake’s epicenter was located. The University of the Philippines (UP) immediately sprang into action. It has deployed its experts and has begun securing the immediate release of its quick response funds, mobilizing University organizations to help provide aid and relief to affected communities.
The July 28 status report of UP Resilience Institute (UPRI) Executive Director Alfredo Mahar Francisco A. Lagmay stated that Dr. Mauro A. Aurelio of the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences was “en route to Abra as the advance party of the University to locate the faults where the M7.0 earthquake occurred and document its impacts.” The UPRI-Institution Building Office has been tasked to conduct “initial reconnaissance” and prepare a preliminary assessment of the affected areas. The Institute has also been coordinating with the UP Foundation for the release of available funds to support quick response activities. On top of these, UPRI experts have been tapped as media resource persons on the Abra earthquake and general issues on disasters, disaster risks, and disaster management.
The UP Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) Center, also headed by Dr. Lagmay, has taken the lead in the processing and analyzing satellite imagery of all affected localities.
A team from UP Manila (UPM), including the UP Philippine General Hospital and UPM Ugnayan ng Pahinungod, has been organizing a medical mission sent to Abra communities. The initiative is led by Dr. Eric S.M. Talens, UPM Pahinungod director, and former UPM Disaster Response Team chief.
The UPRI, along with the UP System Ugnayan ng Pahinungod, and UP Vanguard, is Nowhere to go. Still, UP Foundation and Sama-Sama Tulong-Tulong are working together for relief operations. One hundred family dome tents donated as humanitarian aid to UPRI by SOS Attitude France and Rotary Philippines will be given to priority localities upon arrival from Europe. Former Regent Spocky Farolan has been coordinating with the Abra provincial government to harmonize actions for communities in immediate need of aid and relief.
UP’s Abra earthquake mobilization follows its Tropical Storm Agaton activities in Leyte. The storm-induced landslides and a “landslide-tsunami” overwhelmed multiple barangays in April this year. Two of those barangays, Pilar and Malaguicay in Abuyog, Leyte, were visited last week by the UP team. The group, composed of faculty and researchers from UPRI and UP Visayas Tacloban College, conducted field surveys in the said localities. While there, the team also advised barangay leaders on how to monitor potential landslides that may affect their community.
Before Tropical Storm Agaton, UP assisted those affected by Typhoon Odette in December last year. In January 2022, shelter tents were given to those who lost their homes in Limasawa, Cebu, and Pitogo, Bohol.