April 21, 2011

The Day Mother Earth Got Angry - My World Almost Ended

20 year old photograph of that wicked day

In honor of Earth Day and the victims and survivors, and their families, of the recent earthquake and Tsunami in Japan this year, I will share a true story that happened 20 years ago. One that I never really shared much to just anyone. It's one of those things you wish never happened. One that scared me and scarred me for life. One I shall never forget... the day I thought the whole world was going to end...

July 16, 1990. I was walking downtown with friends to buy school supplies for a project due that week for our visual arts class in Architecture. It was a good day. The sun was out. There was a cool breeze blowing. It was Summer in the Philippines. As we continued to walk down the shopping district, the wind abruptly died. An eerie, odd silence filled the air like as if the world stood still. We stopped walking. It got utterly hot and felt the heat even when we were under the cool shade of the buildings next to us.

As sudden as the stillness fell, so did the sudden shaking of the ground. Violent shaking. Cars stopped in the middle of the road. People started screaming along with the sinking ground. Boiling black mud spewed through the cracked concrete road and pavements. Buildings started sinking where I kneeled to hold my ground. I lost my friends during the stampede of disoriented people who panicked after the first onset of the violent tremor. As I was down on my knees, praying to God, windows shattered above me, next to me, in front of me. Metal lamp posts bent like they were made of rubber. I was beyond scared...We all thought it was the end of the world...

Then the shaking stopped. While in shock, I remembered my little brothers and little sister who was still in school which was fortunately close by. I stood up. My shoes was soaking wet with stinky mud and water. I looked around me. Cars started to move in haste. Drivers were honking their horns like mad men! Roads were filled with shoes. Lots of shoes. In the moment of panic, people oddly lost their shoes as they started to run! Pure chaos.
The collapsed bridge days after the quake

One of the two bridges connecting downtown to the other side of the city fell in the river. Some cars who was on that bridge fell in too. A stampede of people were running and hollering in all directions. Some people were running towards where I was to get to the other bridge to cross home. I was running towards them to get to my siblings' school! I don't know how I managed to get there through that disoriented crowd but as I got there, the school was deserted. Someone told me, the school had let the kids run for their lives when they felt the first wave of violent tremors. I was aghast!

Then I heard people screaming that the other bridge is at risk of collapsing too. It was my only way home. The river below was in turmoil. I had to get through that bridge to get home. The ground started to shake again. I ran back and stood at the edge of the swaying bridge looking towards the other side contemplating my own survival. My feet was heavy, not just with mud, but with fear. People started sprinting towards the bridge while it shook. Standing there thinking I will die alone was the motivation that made me run across that bridge. I need to be with my family. I started running. My feet felt like lead but I didn't stop running until I got to our house...

7.8 magnitude. 1,621 people died.  My life was changed forever that day.* 

This Earth day, and all other days, do something nice to Mother Earth. It's the only Earth we'll ever have. Let's take care of it now before it bites us on the butt! Ouch! What would you do for Mother Earth today?

*dark days ahead. Less than a month after the quake, Kuwait was invaded by Iraq. My mom was in Kuwait. We had no word of her whereabouts. We feared she was killed during the war. Month after that, my 17 year old brother died.

Related Stories:


  1. I want to reach through here and give you a giant hug! I was in the 7.2 San Fran quake in 89. Home alone for the first time ever. Watching Silver Spoons on TV, I remember it like it was yesterday. Lots of hugs for you!

  2. Thank you Emily. It was a horrific experience. You just don't forget things like it. I can still vividly see and feel the horror I felt that day. Hugs back to you!!!

  3. Oh Maricris I can't even imagine the fear. I'm almost speechless as I don't even know what to say here but felt I had to let you know, I read your post.

  4. Thank you for reading it Nanette :-)

  5. Wow, thank you for sharing. I knew you had gone through some very intense trauma but wasn't sure what it was. I am fortunate that I've not yet had to deal with such a life-altering act of God, and am thankful that you are here with us. I'm so sorry to hear about your brother, what every happened with your mother?

    Sending love and hugs!

  6. Wow, I cannot imagine going through such fear at such a young age.

  7. Maricris, this had to be just terrifying! I want to reach over and hug you as well - this story is something I won't forget for a long time.

  8. Thank you for sharing, sister. I love you so much for opening up and sharing this story with us.

  9. Jenn {MommyB} - Those were the dark days in my family but I think it made us stronger. Losing my brother was painful. As for my mom, we found out several months after that she managed to hide in in a safe hide-out. She's in California now. Thank God.

  10. Lisa ~ you know I love you too! Thank you for being there for me.

  11. Kristin ~ Thank you. Yes, it was terrifying and certainly one you can't easily forget even if you try =)


We're not mind readers. We appreciate our lurkers but we also LOVE comments! If you've got something in mind, please give us a holler or just SHARE us in your favorite Social Media channels - we'll take that too! :-)