Quake victims fight fear with superstition-A A +A
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
BOHOL – “Buwah! Buwah! Buwah!” Zarlito Bustamante, 44, chanted outside his house in Barangay Nahawan, Clarin when an aftershock hit the province yesterday morning.
“Para baraw ni sa linog (It fights tremors),” he said.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said a magnitude 5.4 quake was recorded at 7:03 a.m., with the epicenter at 37 km. northeast of Tagbilaran City yesterday.
The tremor was gone after a few seconds. But 19 minutes later, it shook Nahawan for the second time and Bustamante chanted again.
At 7:34 a.m., the quake returned and Bustamante shouted for the third time.
“Ako sad ning paagi sa pagbatok sa kahadlok ug pagdasig sa akong kaugalingon nga di mahadlok (This is also my way to fight fear and encourage myself not to be afraid),” he said.
He recalled that when he was still young, his neighbors and relatives would also chant “buwah” whenever there was an earthquake.
Sociology teacher Jerome Lasala, in a phone interview, said chanting is partly a superstitious action, which can be traced to pre-scientific thinking.
“It is part of the mythology of the past,” he said. “It is also part of the indigenous culture. Lisod na matangtang sa hunahuna (It is difficult to erase).”
He said people with this kind of belief should not be judged and should instead be respected.
Lasala, who teaches at Cebu Normal University (CNU), said chanting is kind of morale booster.
“It is like a battle cry,” he said. “Hoping against all hopes.”
A practice that Filipinos still do today is to make noise during Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This is a Chinese tradition meant to drive evil spirits away.
Rev. Fr. Ariston Limocon, the parish priest of St. Agustine Church in Sagbayan, said chanting is an expression to dispel fear.
He said only a superstitious person does it.
“We should always pray and we should not lose hope,” said Limocon. “The tremors are wake-up calls from God. Maybe we lack in faith in Him.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 22, 2013.