Visiting the University of Philippines in Manila I met Jolanta and Artessa for a breakfast meeting at a hotel lounge in Manila’s high-rise business district. They were the World Bank officials from D.C. — Artessa is a Filipino structural engineer who speaks with keen articulation and sense of strategic direction. I knew Jolanta from the Istanbul seismic risk-reduction project. It was considered to be one of the most successful programs organized by the World Bank and we had a small, but key, role in the project.

I just finished giving a speech at the Kinam Hotel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The audience applauded enthusiastically. I felt good, elevated. I had spoken to more than 100 attendees, including MTPTC (the Haitian Public Works Ministry) engineers, ministry directors, nongovernmental organization (NGO) partners and the media. This event was to celebrate the achievements of the MTPTC engineers since the 2010 earthquake. I have had probably more than 50 speaking engagements each year for the last several years, for many different types of audiences, and giving speeches has become…

Mark Broughton and I entered a large, three-story, red-tagged concrete apartment building. A red tag means “no entry.”

At 2 am I wake up to the sound of a shot gun blast outside of the house I am staying in. Well, this is the first time in my life I have ever been woken up by the sound of gunshot. I slowly spy from the back yard window to investigate. It is strange and silent.

The sky is gray and humidity is high today. We drive toward the US embassy. I see a badly damaged modern commercial structure on my right; the CMU walls pealed out in agony from the main structure.