SM Cares Holds Disaster Preparedness Forum

Persons with disabilities, specifically the young ones are seen as most vulnerable and disadvantaged in times of disasters primarily due to limitations on mobility and awareness. It is because of this that SM Cares, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings, organized the Disaster Preparedness Forum on July 9, 2018 at Hall 3 of the SMX Convention Center, MOA Complex, Pasay City. This year’s focus will be on Children and Youth with Disabilities, between 10-30 years old.

Manuel Agcoili President Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (first row left most) with forum participants and (second row from L-R) Engr. Bien C. Mateo SVP for Mall Operations, Director SM Cares Program, Dr. Renato Solidum Jr. Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction Department of Science and Technology, Ms. Lotta Sylwander Country Representative UNICEF Philippines, Nicanor Faeldon Assistant Secretary Office of Civil Defense, Alexander Pama Former Executive Director NDRRMC and Dr. Ted Esguerra, Operational Medicine Instructor International Disaster Response Network.

The forum provided substantial information about the reality of a potential earthquake scenario in Metro Manila, as well as making them better prepared for disasters and calamities. The attendees were young people who are blind, deaf, with physical/orthopedic impairments, with Down syndrome, Autism and those with rare disorders.

Will Disaster Strike?

Much has been said about the possibility of “The Big One” happening in this life time. This pertains to the predicted 7.2 magnitude earthquake that can happen once the West Valley Fault moves. With history saying that this fault moves roughly every 400 years, time is said to be ripe or even overdue for such movement. This event, if and when it happens, is expected to be of disastrous proportions mainly because the fault traverses various parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces which are known to be highly populated. This is even more so since the seat of government is also located in the area.

Dr. Renato Solidum, Jr., Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), talked about possibility of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake to hit Metro Manila.

This is the very reason why an emergency preparedness forum such as this is very important. Resource persons were Dr. Renato Solidum, Jr. (Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and Officer-in-Charge Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) and Dr. Ted Esguerra, Operational Medicine Instructor International Disaster Response Network. UNICEF Philippines Country Representative Ms. Lotta Sylwander was also one of the guests for the forum. No one knows for certain if it will strike but we should be prepared none the less. Dir. Solidum advises everyone to put their imagination to work as we need to imagine what can possibly happen so we can likewise imagine what we can do to survive.

Dr. Ted Esguerra, Operational Medicine Instructor of the International Disaster Response Network shared survival measures for those with limited mobility, vision, and hearing.

What to Do When It Does Strike?

Our survival will depend on the preparation we did, presence of mind and imagination in thinking of ways to survive. Dr. Esguerra mentioned the importance of YOYO which stands for “You are On Your Own”. You need to be willing to do what it takes so that rescue personnel will be able to reach you alive. Doing nothing can mean certain death whether one is disabled or not.


SM Cares is the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. Its advocacies include Programs on Persons with Disabilities, Children and Youth, Women and Breastfeeding Mothers, Environment, Senior Citizens, and Overseas Filipino Workers (SM Global Pinoy).

As a responsible mall developer, SM ensures that its CSR programs serve as a catalyst for positive change for the community that it serves. To know more about SM Cares, please visit, or email

My Say

During the forum, some persons with disability were asking what to do if they are not able to do something and the speaker will always provide answers that will point towards what can be done. In times of disaster, it is expected that most of the things we can easily do right now will become difficult if not impossible. Focusing on disaster preparedness will decide whether we end up as number in the total fatalities or one of the survivor who lives to tell his story.


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