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Kris-Crossing Mindanao

On structural integrity

/ 04:05 AM November 04, 2019

Oct. 29 and 31, 2019, will forever be etched in the memory of many Mindanaoans, especially those from Davao City, Kidapawan, Makilala of North Cotabato province, and Magsaysay and Digos of Davao del Sur province. These were among the localities in Mindanao that bore the brunt of strong tremors and aftershocks, registering intensities ranging from 6.4 to 6.8 on the Richter scale.

For three days, (Oct. 29-31, 2019) my colleagues and I were in a workshop with faculty members of six state universities and one private institution of higher learning in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in Davao City.

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We were about to start our opening session at 9 a.m. on Oct. 29, when we saw that the building was swaying like crazy. Being on the topmost floor, we felt even more threatened — we could almost hear the sound of the building creaking, although after the first major tremor that day we could not find any crack on the building’s walls, and not even on its tiled floors.

Then the chief of the hotel’s security barked orders for all of us to go down via the emergency exit — and all of us complied. In my case, I had to struggle going down seven flights of stairs with my aging knees and wobbly joints.

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Back in our session hall, we huddled to take stock of not only ourselves, but also of those whom we knew were in other parts of Mindanao, especially those that were among the hardest hit by the quake that fateful morning of Oct. 29.

We also talked about structural integrity of buildings, and how compliance to it can explain why some buildings collapse more easily than others.

A school in Makilala, Cotabato, became a total wreck and some pupils were seriously injured when they tried to escape from it during the quake last Oct. 29.

In Davao City, a condominium is now condemned after a huge part of it collapsed.

The world’s highest building, the Burj Khalifa, or the Dubai Tower, at 828 meters high (2,716.5 feet) never ceases to amaze global audiences with its sheer height and resplendent structure.

Designers and engineers of this modern-day wonder did not leave a stone unturned to make it the epitome of building safety, through the installation of several features that guarantee its structural integrity, enough to withstand a strong intensity 7 earthquake. This also means that the owners of the building did not scrimp on any amount to make it what it is — structurally and aesthetically a standard for modern structures to follow.

Doing anything with honesty and integrity almost always leads to favorable and desirable results. A building usually lacks structural integrity when the builders or owners decide to forego safety in favor of shaving off some amounts from the total budget for construction so that they can line their already fat pockets.

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Many structures that collapsed showed empirical evidence of corruption—like using split bamboos to hold together cement hollow blocks as substitutes for corrugated iron bars, among others. Or construction firms scrimped on the budget for the required materials.

Public school buildings are among the most noncompliant to safety standards and to structural integrity. In the aftermath of the earthquake last Oct. 29, a video clip on national television showed that the stairway of a school building that collapsed was all made of concrete, and no iron bars can be seen jutting out from the rubble.

Political and moral integrities are directly related to the material integrity of structures built using government money. The lack of moral integrity can mean that a building will suffer from the lack of structural integrity, and thus will easily collapse.

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TAGS: Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Mindanao earthquakes, Rufa Cagoco-Guiam, structural integrity
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