20 year old photograph of that wicked day
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
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.