Blackouts, earthquakes jolt Ilonggos

By: Alex P. Vidal

“When you wake up each morning, you can choose to be happy or choose to be sad. Unless some terrible catastrophe has occurred the night before, it is pretty much up to you. Tomorrow morning, when the sun shines through your window, choose to make it a happy day.” – Lynda Resnick

ILONGGOS in Panay, Negros and Guimaras in Western Visayas and Kidapawan City in Mindanao experienced massive power outages and earthquake, respectively, days before the All Saints Day.

A “grid disturbance” caused the scary twin blackouts on October 29 and October 30, according to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

Ilonggos normally don’t complain if there are power interruptions; they have been used to them.

But the recent blackouts were reportedly horrific as they affected consumers of the Panay Electric Company (PECO), Iloilo Electric Cooperatives (ILECO) I, II and III, Guimaras Electric Cooperative (GUIMELCO), Antique Electric Cooperative (ANTECO), Capiz Electric Cooperative (CAPELCO) and Aklan Electric Cooperation (AKELCO).

The earthquake, on the other hand, was reportedly recorded at Intensity VII in Tulunan, Cotabato; Kidapawan City; Bansalan, Davao del Sur and Intensity VI in Matanao, Davao del Sur.

Several people were killed in the strong Mindanao tremors.




A strong earthquake is one that registers between 6 and 6.0 on the Richter scale.

There are about 100 of these around the world every year and they usually cause some damage, it was reported.

In populated areas, the damage may be severe.

The Richter Scale is a measurement system developed in 1935 by Charles Richter to measure the size (or “magnitude”) of an earthquake.

This is in contrast with the Mercalli scale, which is used to measure the intensity of an earthquake.

The Richter scale is logarithmic, meaning that whole-number jumps indicate a tenfold increase.

In this case, the increase is in wave amplitude.

That is, the wave amplitude in a level 6 earthquake is 10 times greater than in a level 5 earthquake, and the amplitude increases 100 times between a level 7 earthquake and a level 9 earthquake.




The amount of energy released reportedly increases 31.7 times between whole number values.

Geography students of average intelligence or lower often get the two mixed up.

The earthquake in Kidapawan, the second in Mindanao in one week, was reportedly between 6.0 and 6.9, so the Richter scale considers it to be “strong,” as opposed to the “major” (7.0-7.9) or “great” (8.0 or higher), but “strong” is still to be feared.

Science writers Tom Harris and Patrick J. Kiger said most earthquakes are extremely small. A majority of quakes register less than 3 on the Richter scale; these tremors, called microquakes, aren’t even felt by humans.

Only a tiny portion — 15 or so of the 1.4 million quakes that register above 2.0 — register at 7 or above, which the threshold for a quake being considered major.

The biggest quake in recorded history was reportedly the 9.5 quake that struck Chile in 1960.

It reportedly killed nearly 1,900 people and caused about $4 billion in damage in 2010 dollars.

Generally, we won’t see much damage from earthquakes that register below 4 on the Richter scale, explained Harris and Kiger.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)