October 08, 2004


As I was typing this entry, comfortable as I could ever be with my legs splayed to the other chair eating dulce gatas, a strong jolt shook my senses. A fucking (pardon the expletive) strong earthquake shook the building furiously with the floor moving back and forth, the hanging lamp swinging round and round and the electric cables were dancing ala jumprope. My heart immediately went to my throat as I was seized by the sheer terror of being buried alive. I remembered the Baguio Hilton? of 1990 and it somewhat has imparted a fear of dying slowly in a dark claustrophobic space. I panicked to see that this was no ordinary earthquake for it was long and unforgiving. I shouted to my mom (who was visiting from Bacolod) and her tita-tita friend and to the helper to duck for cover under the dining table. I meanwhile went down beneath the sidetable. We quickly prayed for divine intervention invoking God's infinited protection and mercy, and that whatever will happen, into His hands we commend our souls. It's quite amazing how people's faith is rejuvenated in a split-second time whenever there is a life-threatening crisis such as 9/11 and this earthquake.

After about a minute of being petrified under the table, I shouted to them to quickly rush down the stairs to the main door which is three flights down. Quickly sensing the urgency (for possible aftershocks), we flew downstairs. Our helper who's into her twilight years, went back pa to get the flashlight. And ultimately forgot to close the door on the way out. Oh, well. During time of panic, you forget everything.

The funny thing was that by the time we reached the door, the sight outside was as if nothing had ever happened. No distressed mothers or people milling around to talk about Mother Nature's fury. It was just like any ordinary Friday night with prostitutes clinging to white caucasian trash and street urchins loitering the dirty streets of Ermita.

After surviving two earthquakes for the past four years, I have developed an acute post-traumatic stress syndrome wherein any jolt or shake from the ground will trigger a rapid rise in adrenaline and a quick blurring of any rational thought. Only the goal of self-preservation prevails. It's embarrassing to panickly shout in the top of my voice to evacuate the unit. Call it a hyperactive sense of anxiety or what, the fact remains that during earthquakes, the only goal in my mind is to look for an opening. The last earthquake that happened about a month ago made me go down halfway through the stairs with nothing on but my boxers. It was embarrassing, I know. But hey, once you're trapped, you're trapped.

Anyway, no aftershocks yet. The helper had suddenly developed headache so I asked her to lie down and drink a glass of water just to soothe her nerves. I bet her BP rose up as well. My mom and her "tita-tita" friend stayed inside the bedroom and prayed the rosary. I, on the other hand, am finishing this entry. I just hope that come this morning, there won't be any aftershocks anymore. Ciao!

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