By Manuel L. Morató
A couple of years ago or so, I remember former Senator Nikki Coseteng calling the attention of the public about the “imported steel bars” being used in high-rise buildings in Makati; and she specifically described how those steel bars look like. It seems that it has become “popular” nationwide, imported and cheap but “dangerous,” she said.
Nikki sent strong signals for the LGUs to keep watch of the steel bars now used all over the country. She feared that a strong earthquake in Metro Manila where high-rise buildings mushroomed all over the city will be put in great danger should a strong earthquake occur, God willing not.
I would like Nikki Coseteng to reiterate the strong warnings she put across to all the LGUs where tall buildings have sprouted.
If I remember correctly what Nikki said, the imported steel bars are “grated” and can snap in case of earthquakes. Nikki said that the price is reasonable but not safe at all to use. Contractors, builders, etc… are now raking in money because of the cheap price of these seemingly “good quality imported steel bars.” For that reason many high-rise buildings have become “attractive.” It has become lucrative. It is being said years back up to now that those big grafters in government park their ill-gotten wealth on buildings and large pieces of lands – not in their names.
When I constructed my low-rise building here on Tomas Morato Avenue in 1967, the City Council Resolution only approved up to 5 floors along Tomas Morato Avenue renamed after my late father who passed away in 1965 through “Congressional Act, H. No. 411… to perpetuate the memory of the first appointive City Mayor of Quezon City, introduced by Congressmen Caliwara and Ilarde… Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled. Approved, 038266.”
Tomas Morato Avenue was declared commercial during the term of either Mayor Santos Diaz or Mayor Amoranto in the 1960s. Only the front lots along the avenue which everybody followed. The residential areas were spared and respected.
Now, it has gone haywire since a few years ago. There is no longer demarcation line for residential areas for as long as you obtain a “Special Permit” from the Quezon City Council – “Special” for “Special” people. The City Council now makes the “law,” without even consulting the DILG which Department is above them; nor holding a hearing to consult the homeowners who will be affected by the re-zoning without the knowledge of the members of the community that will be affected. That’s now the problem we are having in our own neighborhood.
According to the late Architect Bobby Mañosa who designed my building, a National Artist awardee, the structural engineer who did my building was the engineering firm that did the American airport runways, bases and other structural designs during the Vietnam War, in Vietnam.
As I observe the two ongoing structural foundations next door to my building one of which used to be the ancestral home of my parents, is so different than the so-called “floating foundation” by the top structural engineering company that Bobby Mañosa had recommended to do my low-rise building. Even the steel bars used in my building were much bigger than the steel bars I see now used on the two high-rise buildings next door, the “first” of its kind in the area.
I was told by the engineering firm recommended to me by the architectural firm of Mañosa Brothers that a “floating foundation” moves evenly in case of an earthquake; that to prove that a building is well constructed is to see that no glass window and sliding doors cracks; neither cracks on the cement structure of the building.
When I was transferring to the penthouse on the 4th floor, Metro Manila was hit with a strong earthquake at about noontime in 1969 (I forgot the month but I remember the year – 1969). But it collapsed the Ruby Tower in Binondo where many tenants died in that high-rise condominium.
While my building swayed evenly from right to left, from left to right, the entire building smoothly swayed and no glass windows, glass sliding doors broke; and not a crack either in the entire structure. The movement of the building swayed evenly. I felt it for I was in the penthouse when that strong earthquake happened. I did get a bit dizzy. But in the earthquakes that occasionally transpired for the past 50 years, not a single crack on the building, nor glass windows and sliding glass doors were affected. It only goes to show that the structural firm that the Mañosa Brothers recommended to me was indeed the best the Mañosa Brothers could give me.
The order of President Duterte for the LGUs to start investigating the structures affected by the several earthquakes with different intensity from 4.4 to 6.6/7 had collapsed buildings and destroyed so many homes by the thousand in Mindanao. Many lives lost or seriously wounded.
The warning of former Senator Nikki Coseteng regarding imported steel bars being used in high-rise buildings nationwide, needs looking into; more so with the prediction of an intensity 8 expected to happen in Metro Manila.
Ever since I had “fear of height.” That is why I went only up to 4th floor even if I was entitled to go to the 5th floor.
With the scarcity of water supply which according to reports will take years to resolve, maybe the government can temporarily put on hold allowing more high-rise buildings to be constructed for each tall building is almost the equivalent of an entire neighborhood/subdivision with so many tenants all using the water supply at the same time. The only option I can think of is to require each high-rise condo or hotel buildings to provide and dig their own deep wells.
We had one constructed by my father in 1940 for us in the compound where my building was being supplied as well pumped into my big water tanks. But not anymore as those who took over our ancestral home without our consent also demolished the deep well.
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