February 06, 2012 — Intensity 6.9

It was a quarter before noon, and I was browsing through the Chicago Manual of Styles, Sixteenth Edition. I was getting ready for the tenth exercise that I have to take for my copyediting skills improvement. Today was just like all the other rainy and gloomy days. Nothing really spectacular. Ms. Jill was beside me doing her usual thing as one of our superiors. Next to her was Sir Ace, another superior. Joyce, Jennie, and Lara were there then, to my left.

Minutes before I could even skim on the new exercise, I noticed a little shaking on my chair. My monitor began to move back and forth. I shot a look around the people in the office and noticed that Marrione, one of our colleague, had gone under her desk. Sir Ace had done the same. Ms. Jill had given away in panic. I held the back of my chair with my left hand, my right hand holding the wall of my cubicle. The shaking continued.

Seriously? I asked myself. Is this really an earthquake? At this time? This strong?

“It’s done, it’s not shaking anymore.” I heard Joyce said. Panic was in her voice.

“No, it isn’t, it is still shaking!”  Sir Ace snapped at her.

I fixed my eyes on the monitor . . . still violently shaking. Please stop. Please stop. Please stop. I prayed.

A few more moments and the lights went out. That was, then, the time when all the people in the office started to show real signs of panic. People yelled. People stood. People asked each other.

A man poked his head in through the glass door and announced that the electronic doors were locked. The exit was lock!

I felt my body shook even more. My eyes went blurry. Vertigo sets in.

“Fire exit’s open,” the man announced, “everyone, this way.”

I scooped my stuffs—-my jacket, my cap, and my tumbler—-stood, and followed the rest of the people toward the fire exit. We reached the ground level and waited for a few hours before we went back to the building and gathered our remaining things from our respective lockers.

While outside, I heard several reports about the intensity of the quake, other reports of tsunami alerts, and reports from other affected areas. I tried to contact my friends and families, but I just couldn’t. There was network coverage, but the network was busy. I had to wait for a few hours before I was even able to make a call and confirm my family’s safety.

Two o’clock came, and we were finally allowed to go home. I took the 17C jeepney with Joyce. We were almost near my stop—we were at the Golden Peak Hotel on Gorordo Avenue to be exact—when a crowd came rushing in from the opposite direction. At first, I thought a snatching incident happened; but then, someone cried, “Dagan mo naa na ang tibig sa unahan. Nai tsunami.” (Run already, the water’s almost already here. There’ s a tsunami.) Panic swept through me. Everyone in the jeepney started going down and running toward the opposite direction. I did the same.

All vehicles from the other side were coming as fast as they could, all shouting that water is coming. That tsumani has indeed happened. I ran as fast as I could. I pulled my phone out of my pocket to send a message to my friend living near our area. I pressed the Navi Key and my phone flashed the message “Battery Low.” I continued running while dismantling my phone to replace the battery so I can contact my family and friends. I kept on looking back, hoping that water hadn’t reached us yet.

People from all directions were coming. All in panic, crying, terrified. All trying to save their lives and their loved ones. Fear, vertigo, confusion, chaos were racing through the streets. I was shaking. My hands won’t follow my orders. My legs were to frail I couldn’t even strand straight.

“What’s wrong? Why are you running?” A police officer pulled me toward the side of the road.

“I don’t know!” I blurted, almost ready to cry. “They say tsunami is coming.”

“Did you see the water yourself?” he asked.

“No,” I said, “but everyone is running. Panicking. I ran, of course, to save myself also.”

By then, I noticed a lot of rescue cars and police patrols were running all over the street.

Perhaps, the tsunami is true, I thought. I broke loose from the police officer’s grip and continued running till I came to a hotel.

There, I completely changed my phone’s battery and desperately wished that the network wasn’t busy. After multiple attempts of calling my friend, I finally made it through the line. We exchanged information and instructions, and I went to the nearest high place. I continued my way toward home, running against the direction of people all panicking.

What I saw was almost like a movie—2012, Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact—movie dealing with the end of the world. I was running, wishing the tsunami thing wasn’t an inch true.

I found safety on a four-story building where my friend and I kept on talking about what happened earlier. I went home as soon as I could, and packed a few clothes, first aid kit, and other necessities in case of emergency evacuation.

This isn’t my first earthquake, but this is by far the worst. I was stuck in an avenue full of panicking people, saying that tsunami is going to sweep us all dead. I couldn’t even run, let alone think what is the best way to do. Hopefully, no more like this will happen again. And most hopefully, the tsunami will never come.

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