Is Manila ready for the Big One? This architect says not yet

AJ Javier of Javier Design Studio Manila discusses how good design makes disaster-free cities and why Metro Manila still has a long way to be disaster-ready

  • Written by Denny Mata

“Systemically, as a society living in the metropolis, we are not organized. So we are not ready for it,” architect AJ Javier, managing principal of Javier Design Studio – Manila answers when asked whether Metro Manila is ready for a big quake, in the latest episode of BluPrint Conversations with show host and architect Manolet Garcia.

Javier gives two points on why the metropolis is not ready for the Big One yet:

First, he said that we need “impeccable organization and timing” to respond to a natural phenomenon such as earthquakes, which we have no control of.

“Second, the infrastructure is not ready, which is tied together with the system that governs us,” Javier explains further. “The disaster doesn’t have political boundaries. That’s why we are not ready.”

Read more: Did we even learn our design lessons after Typhoon Ondoy?

bluprint conversations aj javier javier design studio manila manolet garcia
BluPrint Conversations host, architect Manolet Garcia (left) and AJ Javier (right)

Garcia comments, “Not readythat message is a very serious one, but can you honestly say that there is hope for us?”

Javier answers there is always hope for us, and points out, “We should not just stop at hoping. There needs to be this attitude of questioning, and we should start to challenge and question the status quo. Challenge the government, the community leaders, and yourself on the rightness and the wrongness of your design decisions, on certain policies. Essentially, when this never-ending questioning culture happens, then the wheels of development run faster.”

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Learn more about Manila’s readiness for disasters, and collaborating among the designers and planners, the government, and the laymen in solving disaster issues through good design. Watch the full BluPrint Conversations episode 4:

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