By: Wenceslao E. Mateo Jr.

WITH reported plans by Gaisano to put up a 40-storey commercial building at Ninoy Aquino Avenue (the old Diversion Road), a friend had remarked to this columnist that the owners must have failed to realize that Iloilo City lies on an earthquake fault in the Ring of Fire along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean.

In fact, Iloilo City was hit by an 8-magnitude earthquake during the Spanish times, which destroyed the Jaro Cathedral belfry, among other notable buildings. The latest was the 6.8-magnitude tremor that hit the Visayas in February 2012, which shook the city at Intensity 5.

Notwithstanding this fact, I told my friend that it is possible to put up a firm and strong building that can withstand a great earthquake, and even the strongest wind ever. He could not believe it.

There is such a building, believe me! And this is even much taller than the building which Gaisano is planning to construct in the city. This is the Taipei 101 building, otherwise known as the Eternal Metropolis. It was not meant, according to its engineers, to be the tallest building in the world – at the time of its construction, a bit taller than it was the Empire State building in New York, which today is no longer the tallest in the world. It was meant, they said, as an amazing testimony of their engineering expertise yet to behold in 2,500 years. They claimed that it can withstand even a 7-magnitude earthquake, and the strongest wind ever. Neither, they said, can move Taipei 101 to even an inch off the line.

Of course, if the engineers of this Gaisano building have the expertise and technology of the engineers that built Taipei 101! But do you, Gaisano engineers, sirs? Otherwise, people will be afraid to scale it to the top to just make their purchases or enjoy whatever there is at its sky-hugging heights.

By the way, the Empire State Building, according to Wikipediais a 102-storey skyscraper located in New York City. Its name is derived from the nickname for New York, the Empire State.

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