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Saturday, October 26, 2013
WE’RE still within the weeks after the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol and Cebu and the initial shake that crashed into the peaceful surface of the land. Now the aftershocks.
The destruction brought on by the Oct. 15, 2013 quake is heartbreaking—over a hundred people dead, and perhaps, more of the missing bodies found in the daily act of retrieval and prayer for healing. And the loss of lives is even more painful, not as though the loved ones were sick or some man-driven incidents and accidents happened in a normal day.
Listen to what news tells of the death in a family—a farmer confessing. Right after the big shake last Tuesday, the house of Serafin Megallen in Loon, Bohol crashed with his mother-in-law and cousin inside it. He dug the earth in sheer despair, brick by brick, right in the middle of the first crash. He hollowed out both whom he found alive. But there was no medical help except what the neighbors could do, even as they also had the same problem. The two died.
The destruction of old churches in Bohol and Cebu is painful as a story of church ruins in both provinces in Central Visayas in 2013 would now be part of modern history.
The Philippines is one of the countries where there are earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, or on the Pacific Ring of Fire in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. Thus, the tectonic plates keep adjusting through the years.
Japan always has it worse. A list of earthquakes in Japan could go this way: a shake a day ago at 4.8 magnitude; 7 days ago, magnitude 5; a month ago, magnitude 4.6. The Great Kanto Earthquake which hit Tokyo and the land around it in 1923 killed 100,000 people. But Japan is now prepared to deal with earthquakes the best way it can, such as with earthquake-resistant constructions of buildings and houses.
As for our country, we’re just starting to deal with shakes which had not been much, say, in the experience of Cebu or Bohol.
One of the earthquakes-often-visited places in the country is Manila. In the 1600s, there have been eight earthquakes experienced by Manileños in 10 years. This is not to talk of the time after 1683.
And now we’re trying to get up from the pain of 7.2.
The magnitude 7.2 earthquake makes Bohol in the list of 11 deadliest recorded earthquakes in the Philippines from 1600s. Cebu may also be in this list after this week’s 7.2 magnitude crash. In the list, most of lethal earthquakes happened in Luzon and Mindanao, only occasionally in the Visayas, such as Cebu’s 5.6 quake last year and this week’s experience.
Each of our own experiences are common and different. A househelp talks about last year’s quake while she was home in a sitio in Lutopan, Toledo city. She was inside the house up the mountain with a sister and her five children. The adults all held on to a “haligi” while pushing down the children and telling them not to move. The helper and her sister, as though in an exercise, screamed together until the shake subsided and they started to breathe a bit normally. But they kept hearing the familiar “Buuwahh, buuwahh!” sound which is used by her co-villagers to shoo off earthquakes, she said.
My experience in the city in Manila was a quake that came in the evening. The bed shook, I felt as though in one swing, it would be slammed out of the window with me in it, down to the street in the Malate area. Then I heard vehicular screeches from the streets where car drivers stepped on the brake to stop the vehicle from going up and down the sudden street waves. A friend who was driving that night said it was like all four wheels went flat.
But it could have been worse.
Let’s think back to Tuesday last week. Magnitude 7.2 earthquake could have been stronger. It could have happened during office days, not on a holiday like last Tuesday. There could have been more of thousands of people in offices and there could have been stampedes in the heart of the city. If it happened on a weekend, there could have been church-goers—especially mothers and children. What if it happened in the evening?
There’s much to be thankful for.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 27, 2013.