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Let me answer my Danish friend’s questions in a form of a blog, as there may be no better way I can say it. Basically, he wants to know what it’s like to be visited by an earthquake because he hasn’t experienced it yet.

Dear Steffen, earthquake is like a thief in the night. The only difference is, God is good in that for the two tremors I have personally experienced within a span of only twenty months, each one occured during the day. The first one happened before noontide on Feb. 6, 2012; this one at 8:10ish a.m., Oct. 15, 2013. I’m not well-versed in seismology or in vocabulary where the terms “intensity” and “magnitude” are differentiated, but as far as I’m concerned, both of which were major and terrifying, to say the least. 

I’m a native of Malabuyoc, a small town in the southwestern part of Cebu facing Negros Oriental, the province with the epicenter of the 2012 earthquake. I was home in Malabuyoc when it happened, so I can tell that it was more agitating in our area than in Cebu City. I remember that our two-storey wooden house went shaking like an airplane passing through a turbulence. I rushed out of the house looking for my nephew Sebastian whom I hugged tight and secured under a sturdy table. Everyone was afraid of a possible tsunami, so we all climbed to the mountain at the back of our house together with the neighbors. Up there, we had no time to discuss aftershocks; we were praying that a tidal wave was not going to banish our homes, let alone reach us in the mountain. 

The Oct. 15 earthquake was more destructive and horrific in Cebu City than in Malabuyoc, because the epicenter was in Bohol, a touristy province facing the city where I work. And I was there when it occured, so that means I’ve seen the pit of both tremors. I was still in deep slumber on the second floor of my friend’s house where I was guested for a day when I felt the bed vibrating like my phone if you’d be calling me. I had no time to remember, let alone practice, the drill I’ve learned. When you’re being caught on the spot, you will totally forget everything, especially if you’re overcome by your fear as I was. Plus, I was mostly worried about my family in Malabuyoc. Hence, I got these abrasions on both legs as well as on my left foot.

In both times, you could never think of any other names to call out than “God,” “Lord,” “Jesus,” “Ginoo.” I said “Ginoo” the loudest I could and prayed “The Lord’s Prayer.” And then after a while, I became nonplussed and would stare at nothing in blank dismay. You would think it’s the end of the world, and then you shrink in fear again and again because aftershocks will stay to haunt you for several days or even weeks. As of this writing, we’ve been visited for almost two thousand times already. And as I’m typing this blog now on my phone, my knees have never stopped knocking since then, especially if I feel something shaky around me. It’s impossible not to shiver at the thought of another earthquake, anytime. Call it trauma. May God forbid. 

It is my greatest prayer—and so is everyone’s—that it will never happen again. I believe that our collective faith is more powerful than earthquake, or than any other volcanic catastrophe for that matter.