Filipinos in Japan: Narratives of Experience from the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
Ma. Mylene Martinez-Villegas*, Renato U. Solidum, Jr.*,
Hiroshi Inoue**, Hiroshi Imai**, Angelito G. Lanuza*,
Henremagne C. Penarubia*, Melcario Pagtalunan*,
Ma. Lynn P. Melosantos*, Joan L. Cruz-Salcedo*,
Ishmael C. Narag*, Melchor Lasala*, Ma. Antonia V. Bornas*,
Perla J. Delos Reyes*, and Bartolome Bautista*
*Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology – Department of Science and Technology (PHIVOLCS–DOST), PHIVOLCS Bldg., C.P. Garcia Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
**National Research Institute of Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED), 3-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan
Filipinos who have settled in Japan as residents were interviewed between June to August 2011. The purpose of these interviews was to gather first-hand accounts of survivors about the March 11, 2011, magnitude 9 earthquake that triggered one of the worst tsunami events in Japan’s history. It is important to document what survivors have learned from these events. Considering how infrequently tsunami events occur in the Philippines, lessons from these descriptive narratives could become a valuable information resource for the Philippines population that might experience tsunami-generating earthquakes in the future, especially because first-hand accounts by Filipinos living abroad would be easy for those living in the Philippines to relate to. This documentation has focused on how Filipinos in Japan were affected, what actions they took during the event, their prior knowledge of earthquake and tsunami preparedness, and how they survived and recovered. Important actions highlighting what to do include the following five: (i) attending and taking part in community awareness activities, (ii) preparing emergency bags holding useful items such as flashlights, food and water, and protection against the cold, (iii) using mobile phones, (iv) paying attention to warnings, and (v) relying on multiple information sources such as television, radio, community sirens or public address systems, and local fire units. Although simple, these actions could save lives in critical times. The lessons they teach show what to do and what NOT to do during earthquakes and tsunami warnings. What NOT to do includes the following:
(1) Do NOT panic.
(2) Do NOT return home to pick anyone or anything up, especially if you live near the coast.
(3) Do NOT drive or use a car when evacuating.
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