Last Monday, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit northern Luzon. The rocking was felt strongly in Metro Manila; I normally don’t feel any earthquakes and only learn of them after the fact via friends or social media. But this time I was on a bed and I could feel it physically shaking, which was impressive given I was only on a second story. Imagine what it must have been like to be in a high-rise condo. Many of my friends working in the business districts had to evacuate their high-rise offices via stairs, and I put off a planned trip that afternoon to Ortigas since it looked like I might have trouble getting home if I went ahead. Thankfully all my friends and family are safe.
My last real memory of actually feeling an earthquake was the one back in 1990 that collapsed the Hyatt in Baguio. I was still in grade school then and I distinctly remember that quake hitting while we were in the parking lot waiting around for the school bus to get going. I’m sure we’ve had strong earthquakes since then, but none made a lasting impression.
Earthquakes are not an uncommon occurrence here, but during recent years there has been talk of a devastating “Big One” which could theoretically do a lot of damage to Metro Manila, which meant a lot of people were worried, justifiably so. I’m disappointed that I didn’t instinctively find a table or door frame to position myself under and just sat there silently as the shaking happened. I guess we should also count ourselves luckly that there weren’t many casualties so far for this quake, unlike the 1990 one which was I think the second most lethal earthquake to hit the country ever. It’s also a pleasant surprise how the high-rise buildings in the business districts are holding up. I worry that because of the way business is done in the Philippines, there may have been shortcuts taken that weaken their structural integrity, but fortunately that has not been the case. So far. Hopefully, we will be able to fare as well if the hypothetical “big one” actually hits.