Earthquake!-A A +A
Saturday, October 19, 2013
IT was Tuesday, the 15th of October 2013 when we were jolted awake by the terrifying sounds of the ground shaking, the ceiling creaking and objects jumping out of our closed cabinets. It was like a scene from Poltergeist. But not for a moment did I think the malevolent spirits had come.
I knew it was an earthquake. My sisters and I staggered out of our rooms. My elderly parents were sitting in the dining room having breakfast. I saw my father’s nurse holding on tightly to the chair my 88-year-old father was seated on.
After what seemed like forever (30 seconds actually), the shaking stopped. I heard voices coming through the stairway. I cannot forget the faces—flushed, scared and exhausted from staggering through four flights of stairs during the quake. They could have run as far as they could, away from the shaking building where we were in but they did not abandon us. To our employees, Derek, Robert and Boy, our heartfelt thanks.
My 88-year-old father, however, refused to go down. And there he stayed at the penthouse of our building all throughout the ordeal of over 800 aftershocks.
When the shaking stopped, I ran down the stairs to my sister’s place since she was out of the country. A lot of broken stuff was lying around. The power was out. The maids had run off leaving the place deserted. I quickly took down the frames, the figurines and whatever else I thought could still fall off in forthcoming tremors.
I then ran down another flight of stairs. From the hallway, the smell of wine and liquor spilled wafted through the air. When the bar came into view, I was amazed to see that a number of bottles were still sitting unharmed on top of the glass shelves. I quickly brought all of them down.
From the ground floor, I heard one of our employees wailing. She wanted to go home. I quickly told her to go. The ordeal ahead was just about to begin.
Tuesday was going to be unforgettable for the people of Cebu as well as Bohol as aftershock after aftershock, the strongest of which was 5.1, would continuously rock the Visayas. The first 24 hours after the 7.2 earthquake was the worst.
People were constantly running to seek cover. Going to the toilet or taking a shower would become challenging tasks. No one could sleep. Tremors would jolt us awake throughout the night. Daylight was no better.
The terror was not only in not knowing when the next tremor would come but in not knowing how long it would last or what would happen next. Would the roof cave in? Would the ground give way? Would we survive?
And in those moments of utter helplessness, we stormed the heavens with prayers. God heard us. The aftershocks finally abated. Now the job of rebuilding lives and rehabilitating structures begins.
Oct. 15, 2013 was a public holiday. Can you imagine the thousands of children who would have been in school on a Tuesday at 8:15 a.m.? We have much to be grateful for. But not all of us are as fortunate. Bohol has been badly battered by the quake. Let us join hands to lift our broken churches and chapels, towns and cities, brothers and sisters from the dust. #BangonSugbohol
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 20, 2013.