Earthquake Snapshot

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By Linda Grace Cariño

Baguio Stories

Friday, May 2, 2014


BALLOONS in green, blue, red, yellow, and green were tied to the swing, the chairs, and the children’s hands, the same hands that happily held double ice cream cones that cupped everyone’s favorite rocky road. Between takes of spaghetti and fried chicken, the little people ran, played, screamed, and made a ruckus at my son’s third birthday party. His cousins and playmates had come over for a July afternoon party that thankfully stayed sunny despite the month. It was a happy afternoon.

Again in the afternoon, too, just five days later, it was cloudy, and I thanked the heavens that it hadn’t been so those five days earlier, thanked God that Kublai’s party had been a good one, that the parents, too, had had a great time. In this afternoon five days later, Kublai had just woken up from a nap, and I was getting ready to feed him merienda, wondering what to top his oatmeal with, to make it interesting. Chocolate bits? Banana rings? And then it happened.

The house shook, and as any Baguio person rather used to quake tremors, I paused warily, and waited, gauging the strength of the tremor. As a girl, I had known another major earthquake in the 1960s. The landmark fall of that earthquake had been the Ruby Tower in Manila. The funny thing about that episode had been that someone in crutches who’d been vacationing with us had run to the door crutches when the earthquake struck. It still makes me smile. Anyway, that July afternoon in 1990, I didn’t exactly scare easily.

But then the TV fell from its table onto the floor. Pictures on the walls of our TV room were falling, too. I grabbed Kub, hoisted him onto my hip, and started to pray to Archangel Michael for protection. My little boy joined me, though he was infinitely more puzzled about what was going on than scared. “It’s an earthquake,” I told him while we hugged each other.
What a way to learn.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 03, 2014.

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