Disaster Preparedness for Sustainability

The geolocation of the Philippines has made it a calamity-prone area and vulnerable to disasters. According to the World Risk Report of the World Economic Forum in 2018, the Philippines placed third among all the highest-risk countries worldwide. Hence Disaster preparedness is important to be part of your plans.

In 2020, Taal Volcano’s last eruption affected more than 736,000 people. And in December 2021, the Visayas and Mindanao regions suffered from the devastating effects of Typhoon Odette. Though Filipinos constantly experience natural disasters, we are not prepared enough. In fact, only 36% feel prepared enough for disasters, as Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) study in 2018 shows. Moreover, 47.5% of all the respondents said they have not done anything to prepare themselves for a disaster.

A flicker of hope encourages Filipinos to start prioritizing their safety and investing in disaster preparedness. In the same study, many of the respondents said if they had enough funds and resources, they would be willing to prepare ahead. In spite of it all, Filipinos do want to be ready for anything.

How to Be Ready for Disasters

What can a regular Filipino do to ensure that we are ready when the next natural disaster hits? How can we prepare for another typhoon, volcanic eruption, or earthquake?

Knowing your location well is a primary step. Is it vulnerable to flooding? How far away is it from the closest volcano? How about a fault line? Thanks to the digitalized documentation efforts led by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), this information can be accessed online. (Link: https://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/index.php/gisweb-hazard-maps

After assessing your location’s vulnerabilities, now you can start planning. Survey your house. Assess if your house is made from materials that can withstand ground movement or strong winds. Check as well for any damages. Keep a Go Bag with emergency resources available not only at home but places of work. It also helps if you teach your children to bring emergency bags and store them in their lockers in school.

Equally important, make it a habit to listen to the radio and the news for any updates. In this age of social media, it is pertinent to monitor your local government unit’s social media for any announcements.

In addition, familiarize yourself with the different routes to your nearby evacuation center. Barangay multi-purpose halls and courts, schools, and even malls like SM Supermalls often open their doors to receive evacuees in times of crisis.

Disaster Resilience of SM Malls

As a responsible member of the community, SM has taken disaster resilience as a necessary stake to help ensure that our communities thrive. SM allocates 10% of its capital expenditures to incorporate disaster-resilient features, one of which is installing water management design features. By securing that SM’s investments, employees, tenants, and partners are resilient, no Filipino would be left behind.

SM Lanang Premier in Davao has a rainwater catchment tank with a capacity of 600 cubic meters
SM DRR Facilities: (Left) Automated Weather Stations: SM Prime Holdings, Inc. has inked a partnership with the Manila Observatory for the “High Definition Clean Energy, Climate, and Weather Forecasts for the Philippines” Project, a data-driven system that utilizes automated weather stations (AWS) and high-performance computer modeling to provide clean energy and weather forecasts up to five days in advance. (Right) SM has also installed Earthquake Recording Instrumentations (ERI) on all malls for earth movement real-time monitoring being recorded in an ERI dashboard.

It is simply not a matter of if, but when,” said Hans T. Sy, Chairman of the Executive Committee of SM Prime Holdings. “We already know that there will always be another typhoon, another earthquake, another natural calamity. Our best bet to avoid personal losses and damages is to be ready for when it comes.

SM Marikina stands tall above a 23-meter Marikina River water lever rise because it sits on 246 stilts and an additional 20 meters farther than the suggested 90-meter distance from the Marikina River centerline.
SM City Marikina and SM Mall of Asia

A couple of SM’s notable resilient infrastructures are SM City Marikina and SM Mall of Asia, designed to help mitigate the effect of flooding in the community.

SM City Puerto Princesa

Most SM malls mark disaster-resilient designs, including SM City Puerto Princesa in Palawan. The mall is elevated approximately 1.40 meters from the City Road. This prevents flooding from the heavy rain throughout the year.

SM City Consolacion and SM Seaside City Cebu

Over in the Visayas, the SM City Consolacion in Cebu has an adequately designed drainage system discharging to adjacent creek and area surface drain along the perimeter walls.

SM Seaside City Cebu

On the other hand, SM Seaside City Cebu’s protection against storm surges is prepared by elevating the site above mean sea level. This allows the mall to be a place of refuge during times of flooding.

As a solution to the threat of flooding, the building’s main floor was also elevated at 4.0m (not 4.5m) from the complex roads. Designed to be a parking area, the first level has a 4.0m elevation difference from the main floor.

In addition, the complex road was constructed 4 meters higher than the city road.

We often ask ourselves – how else can we make it better for the people? We don’t want to just simply build malls, but more importantly, we make sure that our developments improve the lives of the community by adding disaster-resilient features to help mitigate the potential effects of disasters,” Sy added.


SM Prime is one of the leading integrated property developers in Southeast Asia. SM Prime remains committed to its role as a catalyst for economic growth, delivering innovative and sustainable lifestyle cities.

Sustainability and Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience form part of SM Prime’s core business strategies. SM Prime ensures that its risk-informed investments catalyze sustainable development and positive change in the communities where it operates.

For more information on SM Prime Holdings and its other programs for disaster preparedness, visit its website at www.smprime.com.

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