Earthquake and Power Out Experience in the Philippines- Part 1, by S.B.

This was my experience with a mild earthquake and a power outage in the Philippines. Amazingly nothing was damaged by the quake. I expected some things to tip over. Latest reports say it was a 6.5 quake. The epicenter was about 15 miles away. It was stronger than other quakes I have experienced here in the past eight years. Also, immediately after the main quake, there was a long slow side to side rocking motion for several seconds. I never felt that before. We also had 10 or more aftershocks. A local man who is about 50 said it was the strongest quake he has ever felt in town.

Generator and Fuel

Generator and Fuel Status Upon Event

At the time, I had two 5-gallon containers of gas and half a tank in my generator. I needed to get one empty 5-gallon can filled, but I had not done it. I expected that two cans should last three or four days. My generator started easily. I was lucky because I had not started it in more than a month.

Generator Fuel Status Now

I now have four new gasoline cans with modified caps. So now, I could run 2.5 days for the full 24 hours or 7.5 days of only eight hours a day.


Water Status Upon Event

For water we have a 1000 liters (250 gallons) in our main water tank. This is part of our water system. City water does not run in the morning. So, if you want to have water in the morning you need to store it at night. That is what this tank is for. I also have three plastic 50-gallon drums cleaned but not filled. Next time I will have filled them. I have voltage regulators for everything! Voltages fluctuate a lot in the Philippines. Every hardware store and department store sells them. I ran the generator and the AC until about 10 PM. In the past, the neighbor had complained about the noise.

Things We Want To Change For Future

One project we will start on is a super quiet extended muffler for the generator, because of the noise that can disturb neighbors. My worker says a 50-gallon drum can be used for this purpose.

The last time we were in Cebu (our nearest large city), we bought two large rechargeable battery fans. The blades are nine inches in diameter. We ran these after turning off the AC and slept okay with just those. We will need to charge those today; they ran about four hours last night. By then, it was cool outside. They charge slowly. It takes eight hours to charge them.

I needed to buy a hand drill. A hand drill is something that I did not have, and I think most people do not have. Why bother when you have an electric drill, but I did just bought an inexpensive hand drill. The finish of the metal is very poor, but it does work. I used lots of multi-plug extension cords.

Power For Appliances and Phone Connection

At 10 am, I had the generator running to run the fridge and charge rechargeable fans. I also recharged batteries for lanterns that I used at night before starting the generator. There are lots of items to recharge all at once when the generator is running.


Our cell phone works, but the local Internet connection does not work. We do have a data ability on the cell phone. So, we can transfer some prepaid amount to that account and access the Internet via smart phone. It is slower and more difficult to work. However, it does allow access to the Internet. Cell phones here work with prepaid cards.

Most business do not do monthly billings. Mail service is more less frequent than in the USA. There is no junk mail. The electric bill is printed on a handheld meter and printed when the guy reads your meter. He hands it to you or puts it in a plastic bag and ties it to your fence. The same is done with the water bill.

Rechargeable Batteries and Chargers

Lots and lots of rechargeable batteries are very handy! I have 24 batteries charging now! Lots of chargers are also handy! I have four chargers. Two chargers will charge eight batteries. I also have two chargers that will charge four batteries. So in total, I can charge 24 batteries at once. One type of flashlight and my headlamps use three AAA batteries. The AAA batteries discharge very quickly. So I need to have replacements available. The headlamp will discharge in a few hours.

The chargers are able to charge AA, AAA, or D cell batteries all at the same time in any combination. For rechargeable batteries, I would recommend having at least double the number of batteries that you will be using. The AAA batteries discharge very quickly in bright flashlights. Also according to the Internet rechargeable batteries loose half of their charge in a month. Therefore I date when all the batteries are charged. Then monthly I recharge ALL the batteries.

Paper Plates

I used paper plates for meals. I have water but it’s too precious to use for dishes. Also paper plates save time. In this case there’s nothing to do as far as house repairs. In other emergencies, saving time is a critical item!


Headlamps have been wonderful! I bought four good ones from the USA. They got here in March. They have high, low, strobe, and red light. The only down side with them is that they use three AAA batteries, so they run out quickly. The brand is Black Diamond. The Model is Spot. It is $39.00 on Amazon. Usually I need to swap out fresh batteries every day.

Later Update On Water

City Water Returned

The city water came back on! If the 1000 liter tanks had run dry, it would have been a lot of work to go get water! The 1000 liter/ 250 gallon tank is part of my fixed water system. City water is low to nothing in the morning. So the tank collects water at night and with a pump provides water 24 hours a day. Without the 1000 liter tank, I would need to rent a truck and load the empty 55-gallon barrels, which I have. Then I’d need to fill them maybe 1/3 full of water, haul them back to the house, and pump the water through my backpacking water filter for drinking water. It would be lots of work!

Two liter bottles of water stored in the freezer add extra cooling capacity when the power is off. The fridge does not keep things cold if only running eight hours a day. It needs to run almost 24 hours a day to keep cold. Because the neighbors do not like the noise, I will need to make a super muffler for the generator. The worker I have said that a 50-gallon drum works very well as a muffler. I will try to buy one and connect it to the generator. I am looking for a metal 50-gallon drum. Plastic and hot metal do not seem safe to me.

Progress On Super Muffler For Generator

Building the Super Muffler

Subsequent to the water coming back on, I bought a used 55-gallon metal drum. I am painting it now. Most sites on the Internet that used a 55-gallon drum had the drum buried in the ground. So that is what I am planning. The hole has been dug. Once the painting is done, I will put it in the ground and connect pipes between the drum and the tail pipe of the generator. There is suggestion to also put the drum in concrete to reduce rusting, so that’s what I’ve done.

Now, the super muffler is done. I bought a used 55-gallon steel drum, painted the outside, and dug a hole where it sticks up about eight inches above the ground. The hole is lined with concrete to keep the steel from rusting. Concrete also covers the eight inches of drum that is above ground. The top of the drum is covered with a dome of car body filler. This will keep any puddles of water from forming. One expensive piece of this setup is the stainless steel flexible hose from a car parts shop; this hose connects the generator with the steel drum. It is only one foot long and costs about $32. I wanted something flexible; otherwise the vibrating steel pipes would tear the tailpipe off of the generator.

The exhaust coming out of the 55-gallon drum is warm not hot, at least with short run times. I now have four new five-gallon gasoline containers. So now I can last two days running the generator 24 hours a day.

Gas Containers

I also modified the caps on the gasoline containers. The caps on containers usually break, so I covered the outside of the cap with auto body filler to provide some support. I will see how it works. I also covered the top of the 55-gallon drum with a dome of Sil-Coat; it is used to smooth concrete surfaces. It is now like a smooth concrete. The dome will prevent water from laying in the lip of the drum and rusting.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

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  1. Very interesting introduction to your article. Your everyday experiences in the Philippines prepare you much better than what we do in the states. Here in the states we are critically dependent on electricity but you at least are 3 steps ahead of all of us by having to deal with the daily issues you have discussed.

    I’m interested to hear how your generator muffler works under longer use. My standby generator is very loud but the manufacturer says muffling will cause the circuit boards to over heat and the unit would malfunction. I also have a portable 10000W generator for my barn which your muffling system would probably work on. Thanks for the ideas.

  2. Nice review of real world disaster issues. I hope you will address sanitation issues in a future post. Also, how did the super muffler drum work? Did it quiet things down noticeably?
    Tell us more, please.

  3. I’m also very interested in the muffler problem. and was wondering what folks thought about a second muffler such as a VW from a bug. Is the idea with the 55 gallon drum just to let the exhaust gas expand and how does it exit the drum? I guess my concerns are too much back pressure causing strain on the engine and overheating. I know mufflers are critical on 2 cycle engines but how critical are they on 4 strokes?

  4. SB, have you considered batteries and an inverter for night time use, charging with the generator during the day? From my visits to the Philippines, it seems that solar would be limited usefulness out side of the “summer” season of April-May, due to frequent rains.

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