Robert Putnam in his influential study "Bowling Alone" puts forward a number of possible factors to explain the decline of civil society in the U.S.A. Many if not most of these same forces are also very much at work in America's erstwhile colony in Asia where almost the opposite outcome is true if one can measure such things as social capital by the number and activity of formal and informal associations and networks devoted to mutual assistance. Unlike Americans, however, Filipinos are exposed to a much higher degree of everyday risk. The inability of government, moreover, to adequately address this vulnerability and the manifest limitations of technology to solve what are increasingly complex issues expose many people to risks that increasingly threaten their properties, livelihoods and lives. This project traces the evolution of mutual benefit associations and networks from the late sixteenth century to the present and suggests that it is precisely those geographical regions most exposed to personal misfortune and community danger in the form of natural hazards where they proliferate most readily. Its principal argument that these forms of civic engagement, though ostensibly state-sponsored were in practice more community-generated, suggests that the origins of civil society may have much earlier roots than previously supposed. In the Philippines, the everyday hardship posed by a very seismically active landmass and exposure to frequent extreme meteorological and seismic events suggest an intriguing relationship between threats of this nature on the one hand and the number and vigour of forms of civic engagement on the other.