Memo on Building a Disaster-Resilient Ateneo de Manila University
28 June 2015
Memo to : The University Community
Subject : Building a Disaster-Resilient Ateneo de Manila University
In the past few weeks the public has been made more aware of the likely impacts of a possible movement of the West Valley Fault (WVF). I would like to assure the community that the university has been working hard to make our community both sustainable and resilient, even before these recent concerns about the WVF. Even at the outset, our strategic goals already included reducing disaster risk and building a sustainable campus.
Assessing risk and enhancing coping capacity
We had, at different times in the past decades, launched initiatives to address our exposure and vulnerability to hazards such as typhoons and flooding, earthquakes, and fire. Some important initiatives include the Preventive Maintenance Program for facilities and grounds, the Ateneo Emergency Management Plan, and the Ateneo Sustainability Guidelines.
As early as 2001, new buildings were designed and constructed in consideration of our proximity to the WVF. Upon the release of the 2010 National Structural Code of the Philippines (NSCP), we started to subject older buildings to structural inspection and assessment according to these standards for gravity, wind and earthquake loadings. A structural engineering firm visually examined the buildings of the Ateneo Grade School, Ateneo High School, and the Loyola Schools from 2011 to 2013; appropriate structural repairs and strengthening were carried out, where necessary.
In September 2013, Dr Renato P Solidum Jr and his team from PHIVOLCS presented their improved mapping of the WVF. The buildings sitting on the fault include some of the buildings of the Society of Jesus, which are however not under the administration of the university. The David, Fermin, and Pacquing Halls of the Ateneo Grade School are close to the fault.
Thus, the university decided to subject these three buildings to a more in-depth and invasive structural audit starting March 2014. This involved core tests of every pillar and beam, which could only be done when there were no school activities. The structural assessment was received in May 2015. The recommendations in that assessment included the retrofitting of certain pillars according to the 2010 NSCP standards.
After due consultation and deliberation, it was decided that instead of retrofitting David Hall nowfor the use of Grades 7-8, their classes would be held at the Bellarmine Hall and the AHS-CMST areas, since they will be moving to the high school grounds next year. Fermin and Pacquing Halls will be retrofitted immediately; hence, the delay in the start of classes of Grades 3 to 6.
Preparing and Implementing an Emergency Management Plan
Our efforts are not limited to structural enhancement. In 2014, we prepared an Ateneo Emergency Management Plan (AEMP), which entailed creating a system that operates under the leadership of the University Emergency Management Team (UEMT) and addresses different levels of emergencies. The university is now divided into Local Unit Emergency Response Teams (LUERTs).
Each LUERT is organized into Building Emergency Assistance Teams (BEATs) to ensure that there are persons responsible for evacuation, firefighting, search and rescue, health, security, and operational concerns. This means that practically all Ateneo personnel are involved in emergency response. We have been preparing and training the teams more systematically according to the AEMP. We have been addressing gaps in our systems (communication, logistics, security, mobility, emergency pick-up points), and preparing for more extensive drills for the community.
We hope to further raise the level of disaster literacy among our students through new modules and information that will effectively teach them about disaster risk, drills, go-bags, and the like.
Becoming a sustainable and resilient community
Being disaster-resilient is partly about getting the structures and systems ready and partly about developing the skills for proper behavior and response. Most importantly, being disaster-resilient also means cultivating an attitude that combines courage and concern for the community and for the future.
We hope that you will be our partners in developing a sustainable and resilient Ateneo de Manila University.
Jose Ramon T Villarin SJ
AGS LUERT: Ateneo Grade School, Irwin Theater
AHS LUERT: Ateneo High School
LS LUERT: Loyola Schools; Faber, Xavier; Gesù, Manila Observatory, PIPAC; AJHS (for this year only)
APS LUERT: Ateneo Professional Schools (Rockwell, Salcedo, and Ortigas campuses)
SDC LUERT: Ateneo School of Government, Lynch, Hoffner, ISO Complex
Res I LUERT: University Dorms, Cervini, Eliazo; Pollock, Alingal; Jesuit Residence, EAPI
Res II LUERT: Arrupe International Residence, CeFam, Loyola House of Studies (with Lucas Infirmary and Loyola School of Theology), San Jose Seminary, Sonolux, Spiritual Pastoral Center Building
ML LUERT: Moro Lorenzo Gym and Field