SM Cares’ 3rd Disaster Resilience Conference for Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens

Words by Hannika Santos | Photos by Arah Reguyal | Infographics by Mari Lorica

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Why do you smile on top of that wheelchair? … because you have hope.” Dr. Ted Esguerra said to a PWD member in the audience.

With the threat of ‘The Big One,’ a magnitude 7.2 earthquake striking Metro Manila, Disaster Risk Reduction Management Conferences were conducted in various sectors of the community. These include the Senior Citizens and PWDs—the most vulnerable due to their limitations on mobility and awareness.

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Last July 25, 2017, at the SMX Convention Center, SM Cares spearheaded the 3rd Disaster Resilience Conference for Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens with partners: the Philippine Institute of Volcanology (PHIVOLCS) and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). The task was to inform and impart adequate knowledge and basic survival skills to senior citizens and PWDs as well as to their caregivers during and after times of disasters. Hence, understanding that being prepared and possessing the right knowledge during earthquakes and other calamities are critical to surviving such devastation.

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Present in the program was a sign language interpreter (signer) for the deaf audience

The talk was led by Dr. Renato Solidum Jr., Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change. He was followed by Mr. Aldo R. Mayor of MMDA and lastly by Dr. Ted Esguerra, Operational Medicine Instructor International Disaster Response network.

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Dr. Renato Solidum Jr.

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MMDA Personnel present in the event

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Open forums were conducted after the talks

The speakers emphasized the necessity of planning and preparing to avoid chaos during disasters. Dr. Solidum discussed the impact of a 7.2 earthquake citing an estimated number of 30,000 casualties that may increase up to 48,000 if not equipped with proper knowledge during the calamity.

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Senior Citizens reading their copy of disaster preparedness guidelines

The third speaker, Dr. Ted Esguerra engaged the audience by making them “drop, cover and hold,” as their actual response during an earthquake. Some even used chairs as a protective covering for their needs.

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Audience members respond to the drop, cover and hold activity

At the last part of the program, volunteers from the audience tried simulation exercises using the MMDA Earthquake Machine. It was deemed insightful because the volunteers got a firsthand experience of how severe a certain magnitude of an earthquake was. The simulation was supervised by both MMDA and Dr. Ted Esguerra.

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Volunteers inside the earthquake simulator

As Dr. Esguerra has said, “The will to live is psychological. We have to tell ourselves, kaya.” Regardless of our inabilities, every person deserves to live their lives to the fullest. That is why age and physical inadequacy  are obstacles that can be overcome by continuously learning.

Here’s what went down during the conference, simplified by infographics:

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SM Cares is the CSR arm of SM Prime Holdings, Inc. Their advocacies include Programs on Persons with Disabilities, Children and Youth, Women and Breastfeeding Mothers, Environment Sustainability, Senior Citizens, Social Entrepreneurship and Overseas Filipino Workers (SM Global Pinoy).

As a responsible integrated property developer, SM Prime ensures that its CSR programs serve as a catalyst for positive change for the community that it serves. To know more about SM Cares, please visit or email smcares@­

SM Cares


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