February 6, 2012. It was almost 12:00 noon, in the house of my late uncle, when everyone was busy getting ready for the funeral service. Some of my relatives who just arrived from Toledo City were on the dining table having lunch. My mom, dad, other siblings of my bereaved aunt and in-laws were in front of the coffin for the picture-taking. After a few minutes from where they stood, there was a very strong quake that frightened us all. That was the 6.9 magnitude earthquake for the first time that hit Negros Island.
I saw my mom fell and rolled over because she was out of balance when the quake shook the house. Decorative figurines, wall frames, glass cabinets and other valuable things in my aunt’s house broke down to pieces as they hit the floor. Suddenly, there were cracked lines appearing on the concrete walls of the house.
Most of us went down on our knees, begged for mercy, and prayed aloud that the earthquake would stop. Then, I shouted, “Let’s all get out of the house”. We had to crawl to be able to get out of the house because the quake was so strong we couldn’t stand on our feet at all. We then hurriedly went to the subdivision road to save ourselves from falling debris or worse from being roofed if the house would collapse. Even when we were already outside the house, the ground continued to tremble. We were all in panic, crying, praying and feeling helpless.
While we were on the road, my other relatives from Tayasan, who came to Guihulngan to attend the burial, suffered some bruises, black eyes, scrapes and swelling on their heads as they stumbled from their motorcycle when they were caught by the earthquake in the middle of the street along Guihulngan boulevard. They related to us that the sea along the boulevard actually went to the opposite direction, going to Cebu island, which made us even more scared of tsunami.
I called my husband to check if they’ve experienced the earthquake in Cebu and he confirmed that they were as well outside of their office for safety. Then I thought of my son, who is in school at that time. I told my husband to go to school at once and get our son. After I have confirmed from my husband that he was able to get my son in school safely and brought with him to his office, somehow I was relieved.
At around 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, there was an alert brought to us by a policeman in Guihulngan that there will be a tsunami because of the strong earthquake. The family then decided to postpone the burial of my uncle. We had to leave his coffin inside the house and secure ourselves in a higher ground. We moved to Guihulngan hospital fronting NORSU’s campus, since that place was elevated and most people also settled there. Within the hospital’s ground, patients were lying on the grass with their apparatus. Most of them were victims of the earthquake and since there was shortage of medicine, those who have suffered from injuries were just given pain reliever.
My family decided to stay in Guihulngan and spend the night in their respective vehicles since they could not go home as well to Tayasan because three bridges going there were destroyed by the earthquake. With my parents’ advice, my sister and I decided that we will just move to San Carlos City so that she will be able to go home to Bacolod City where she left her son with the nanny only and I could also catch the first voyage to Cebu the following day.
Together with our relatives from Toledo, there were six of us who were bound for San Carlos City at around 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon. We waited for any public vehicle that would bring us to San Carlos City but failed to get one. Just when there was a motorcab that passed by, we pleaded the driver that he would bring us to the nearest barangay where we could see a public utility bus or jeepney going north. He asked for a total of Php. 500.00 as fare. We reached the last barangay of Guihulngan and there were no bus or jeepney heading north anymore. We requested the driver that he will just bring us to San Carlos City and that we will just pay more but the driver declined and he finally said that he could no longer go that far since he’s going back to his family.
It was getting dark, we were in the middle of the street of Barangay Basak, walking and searching for ways on how to go to San Carlos City. There were motorcycle drivers who came to us and tried to negotiate for Php. 500.00 each person going to Vallehermoso, which is the town before San Carlos City. One motorcycle could carry three persons aside from the driver. I thought it was very risky as what happened to my relatives.
While on the street, I saw a light from a not-so-distant direction, I decided to wave my hands and thank God a big delivery truck halted in front of us. There were already four men in the truck and when we asked the truck driver if he could accommodate all six of us, he responded by saying, “as long as you can fit in front, come in.” The back of the delivery truck was actually loaded with frozen goods and only the truck’s front with a little allowance at the backseat is available for us. We forced ourselves to fit in and managed to stay in one position all the way to San Carlos City. As we traveled, I saw big cracks on the streets, broken houses, and other painful scenarios as we pass.
At around 7:30 o’clock in the evening we reached San Carlos City that seemed a ghost town. Most of the San Carlos folks have gone to the mountain and avoided the sea because of the tsunami warning. It was very ironic because we were going to San Carlos City Port Area where my dad is the current Terminal Manager. My dad already informed the staff at PPA San Carlos that we will be arriving that evening and that we would stay overnight in my dad’s office. It’s a good thing that there was electricity and that was the only time I got to recharge my phones and contacted my husband of my whereabouts. My husband had been worried about me, not being able to get in touch with him since 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon.
While in the PPA building, we still felt the aftershock quake so we didn’t really get to sleep at all.
February 7, 2012. We waited until 4:00 o’clock in the morning to buy tickets outside the port area for the ferry which will depart from San Carlos at 5:30 o’clock in the morning. We were happy that the sea was so calm. At 7:00 o’clock in the morning, I safely arrived in Toledo City. On my way to Cebu City while on board the Ceres bus, I called my mom and dad asking them how they were. Then I knew that they have scheduled to bury my uncle that morning.
Finally, I arrived in Cebu City at around 9:30 o’clock in the morning. I was so happy to see my son and husband all safe. We kissed, hugged, thanked God for keeping us all safe and hoped that such tragic experience will never happen again. God is still good after all this time.