This post is linked up with Winding Road’s “A Day in the Life Blog Hop“. I know most of the participants are posting about their typical Monday today but I’m kicking the week-long blog hop off with a not so typical Tuesday in our lives out here. If you want to join in or check who else are participating, please click on the button below.
Note: this is a very looooooong post and not my usual almost funny stuff. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
October 15, 2013
I just got off from my graveyard shift and was happily walking out of the office building to meet my husband for a quick meet-up before I head home (his shift ends at 2pm). It was a national holiday in our country in observance of the Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) of our Muslim brothers and sisters so we were both excited about spending the afternoon with the kids. After our quick morning date, he went back to his office while I took a jeepney going home.
I arrived at the house, had breakfast with my mom and my 8 year old son who had to go to school that morning (his school thought it would be a great idea to exchange the holiday off from school, they had no class Monday and had the students come back Tuesday morning for a 4 hour class). The curly top (my 2 year old girl) came out of the room and was walking around the house like a zombie.
“Hello baby girl!” I called out to her. She smiled and walked over to me for a kiss and went back to her zombie-like, just-woke-up state and went to sit in the living room.
The smarty pants left for school accompanied by the nanny while the curly top and I went inside the bedroom. After a few minutes of hugging, singing and cuddling, she laid down right beside me with her book, while I then checked my Facebook page using my phone. Like any normal day, I updated my status and was replying to a few comments.
As soon as I hit enter on the that last reply, I felt the tremor but wasn’t sure what was happening. All I know was that it was getting stronger by the second. It wasn’t until the nanny, who had just arrived from my son’s school, started screaming “Earthquake!” in the living room, did I realize what was going on. I scrambled to get up from the bed and picked my daughter up to run outside of the bedroom but because of the intensity of the earthquake and due to the fact that I was panicking, I lost my balance, hit the wall and fell to the floor with my daughter still in my arms. Thankfully, my mother came back, took my daughter from me, then ran back outside while I quickly stood up and followed them out of the house. It was so ridiculous that I could have sworn I laughed a little when I fell.
The distance from our door to the gate of the apartment compound have never been so far as it was that day. When we passed under the balcony of the 2-storey apartment, little pieces of rubble and dust were falling on our heads. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears, I hear the screams and the cries of our neighbors and I was scared. Deep shit scared.
People were running from all directions. Rushing to get away from the tall buildings, clearly as distraught as I was and as confused as to what just happened. With all the chaos going on, everything looked like a blur to me. My mind was fixed on what I couldn’t see right in front of my eyes. My son who was in school. My husband whose office is on the 15th floor. I looked at my mother and my tears just fell. “Mommy. Si Chico” was all I managed to say over and over.
My mind was racing. Images of my son being scared and God forbid, hurt in any way, was making it so hard for me to breathe. Dear God no. Please no. He must be very scared. My heart ached because I wasn’t there for him. And I thought about my husband. He heads the security department in their office and I know his job was critical at that moment and will most likely be the last person to leave the building. How I hated his job right at that moment.
People were saying that this building fell and that building collapsed, my mind was a mess and all I wanted was for everything to stop. STOP! This can’t be happening! Please Lord, let it stop! I did not realize that I was crying so hard. I did not realize that I was barefoot, half naked or that my arms was bleeding because I scraped it on the wall when I fell. I was shaking and sobbing when my mom handed my daughter to me. I hugged my baby tight and prayed for the Lord’s mercy.
My mother, the quick thinker that she always is, asked the nanny to go back to my son’s school to pick him up while I stood there on the street. Clearly, I was too emotional to pick him up myself. Amidst the rushing people, tears running down my face, all I could do was wait.
There were ambulances and firetrucks running up and down the streets, policemen where everywhere and I could see more and more people being ushered away from the mall across our compound, from the grocery store and from every where. The streets were filled with scared and crying people.
The first aftershock. I hugged my daughter tightly and strained my neck to check the crowd and see if my son was among them.
It must have been around this time when I saw my son and the nanny rushing towards me and my daughter. I hugged him so tight and asked if he was okay. Thankfully, he said the teachers gathered all of the students in the middle of the campus and away from the buildings. I was a little relieved that at least I had my son near me now. If only I could hear from my husband.
With my hands shaking, I was desperately trying to contact my husband on the phone, who I haven’t heard from since the first earthquake and I was getting really worried when I couldn’t reach him. My kids and I sat down on a chair right outside the compound gate. I turned my mobile data on and checked PHIVOLCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) on twitter and that’s when I learned how bad it was. Then my mom handed me her phone saying it was my husband. I was so relieved to hear from him! He was okay but he had to make sure that all the employees were safe and that the building is secured before he can head home which sounded like it was going to take several hours. He asked about the kids, I told him we were okay and begged him to stay safe and that we love him so much.
I checked FB, the news feeds on twitter and checked with other friends in the city to see if they were alright. Thankfully, they were okay.
Another aftershock. I hugged my kids and prayed, asking the Lord to keep us safe. The aftershocks went on every after few minutes, some mild while the others were strong enough to send me to tears again.
I lost count of them but according to PHIVOLCS, the aftershocks were on a roll and these ranged between 2.0 to 5.5 magnitudes.
This continued on all afternoon into the night.
*Aftershock, scramble to get out of the house, stay on the streets, wait it out, feel safe enough, go back inside the compound, aftershock, pray, rinse and repeat.
Every time we felt safe enough to go back into the house, another one comes along.
I packed overnight clothes, important documents, jackets for the kids, towels, flashlight, candles medicine, shoes, tent, umbrella, milk and water. Because I was panicking and my mind wasn’t where it was supposed to be, I did’t realize that I also packed bunches of receipts, my make up kit, a huge folder filled with useless papers, I only realized this a couple of days later when I thought of checking the bag.
We planned to go to Mactan and stay at the Philippine Air Base with my SIL to spend the night but then we heard that there were damages on the bridges that connected Cebu and Mactan Island so we decided to brave it out and stay in our house. This would have been okay if not for the old 5-storey hotel just right beside our house.
This is what’s looming over our roof.
My exhausted husband finally came home after 4pm and I was so relieved to finally see him! We hugged each other like we haven’t seen each other for years and the kids ran up to him obviously relieved to see their dad. We stayed outside the house most of the time, going inside only when necessary. Going to the bathroom to pee was scary that If one needed to go, another had to accompany. I held my pee for as long as I can because I was scared to go in. I’d rather die from kidney infection than die inside the bathroom, squished in ruble with my bare butt facing the heavens. Good Lord! That will not happen!
My kids were scared, the toddler was mad at the “monster” and told it repeatedly to “stopit!”
*rinse and repeat
The men in our compound stayed outside, while the kids rested in the living room. If an aftershock was too strong, we bring the kids to one of the shops owned by a neighbor outside the compound to wait it out.
Dinner was rushed and done on the living room floor, right by the door where it was easy to get out of the house just in case. Sleeping time was another story. I had my son’s tent ready, I wanted us to go the the park near our house and sleep on the grounds but this plan was thwarted due to the rain and a prediction of thunderstorms.
We were stuck in our house. All we could do was pray.
*rinse and repeat
Switching the television on so we could get updates and I saw the devastation brought about by the earthquake. Buildings downtown toppled down, a stampede which crushed the life of a little girl, our favorite church, the Basilica del Sto. Nino was damaged and many historical churches in Bohol (the epicenter) were left in ruins.
*rinse and repeat
We took turns in sleeping, which weren’t like sleeping anyway since you hardly get to really rest. There were still aftershocks almost every 10-20 minutes. Some mild enough for us to shrug them off, some so strong that they would send me and my family crying for the Lord.
It seemed like the longest day of our lives and I was just so exhausted but then I thought about the others who weren’t so lucky. The news on TV was filled with heart-breaking stories about families losing their loved ones. Homes destroyed. Of people still missing, a kid who got crushed in stampede and died. It makes you wonder, am I too selfish in asking the Lord to please spare my family?
If you can remember, I posted a photo of Sto. Nino Church (Basilica del Sto. Nino) here. This is what my family’s favorite church looks like now.
After over a thousand aftershocks, today, we experienced the strongest aftershock since October 15, a 5.4 magnitude quake and guess what? I slept through it while my family went running out of the house. Leaving me inside. Alone. Sleeping. Darn. These. People.
Earthquake time stamps source.