Where were you when the earthquake hit? For days, no one could talk about anything else. Did you feel it? Did you hear a rumble before you felt it? Were you asked to evacuate? Are there cracks in your house? How are the roads? Is it safe to drive around?
The first one hit at 5:11 p.m. and was rated a 5.7, and then upgraded to a 6.1 intensity temblor. But the news said that in our area it was between 3 and 4. Philvocs assured us it was not the Big One. Well, as far I was concerned, this one was huge.
The first message of concern came minutes later from Italy, where my twins were on holiday. “Are you okay, Mom?”
I was at my desk that afternoon, just glad to be over a bout of stomach cramps and a slight fever, catching up on e-mail and other stuff, when suddenly my chair rocked. This time, for real!
I stopped typing and hung on to my desk. My chair is on ball caster and as the floor swayed under me, I rolled back and forth.
I prayed. It was a loud prayer. I also heard myself scream for the yaya. She ran in, loudly announcing there were waves in the pool.
I grabbed my phone. But my fingers had turned to jelly or maybe I had gone blind. I wanted to reach all my children, my grandchildren. I fumbled to find the right keys. By the time I did, there were dozens of frantic messages on my phone. Everyone was shaken. Each one in my family reported safe. God is good.
That night, I had my daybed brought down to my living room. I wanted to be as close to the front door as I could and not have to negotiate the stairs in a panic. I remember someone saying, “Stay near an exit and close to the ground.”
For all the preparations, drills and repeated instructions, I must confess that “Drop, cover and hold” never entered my mind.
Now that I think about it, I know I can handle “cover” and “hold.” But pray tell, how does a person my age “drop”? Also, the only table in my casita has a glass top. We need to change that.
The next day there was a strong tremor in Samar, and then Davao Oriental. And here we are more than two weeks later, recording more new quakes and still counting aftershocks from the old ones.
My classmate called in tears, “The world is falling apart. God has had it with our wickedness. He is angry. And He’s telling us so!” I tried to calm her down, reminding her that God is sovereign.
Life goes on
In the meantime, I am back to sleeping in my big bed upstairs.
My immediate agenda is to make plans for my next trip. I am excited but in no rush. I am hoping to find better fares.
So far my itinerary includes Seattle, where the love in my heart overflows. And then, only a drive away, to Vancouver for intensive reminiscing with two cousins. I may also fancy a reunion with old friends in Las Vegas, although it will be infernally hot.
As usual I will stay longest in Atlanta with my one and only sister. I love it there, except when there’s a tornado alert. We hide in a windowless bathroom under comforters.
My vacation ends in December with my granddaughter’s wedding. It will be held in a beautiful barn in Tifton, Georgia, just a three-hour drive from my sister’s home. I am excited. Family weddings are always fun.
And on my way back, I hope to stop in San Francisco to spend time with my old compadre whom I have not seen in forever. He is ninong to my youngest daughter who was born in that beautiful city by the bay.
I have fond memories of him, still a bachelor, living on the second floor above us, in our gray and white walkup on 2nd Avenue.
Pareng Joe played a mean stand-up bass but had a full-time job in the travel industry. Whenever he could, he looked after my twins, and when the baby came, he stood as her proud godfather. I don’t remember ever knowing a kinder, more gentle man.
How did I lose touch with someone so special?
Browsing a nostalgia site on Facebook, I saw the picture of five pretty young ladies casually walking down a Manila street in native dresses. Someone commented it would be nice if people went to work wearing strictly Filipino attire one day of the week or even once a month.
I think it’s a marvelous idea.
I remember Aloha Friday in Hawaii. Everything and everyone goes Hawaiian, even the music in elevators. The men put on colorful printed shirts and the ladies wear muumuus. Bosses and employees alike at banks, stores, malls and even hospitals all radiate “aloha.”
I don’t know why, but Aloha Friday always gave me a warm feeling of welcome and friendship. It seemed to say, “Lucky you live in Hawaii.” And indeed I was.
My friend does not think it will work here. Why not?
Just imagine men going to work wearing barong Tagalog, or camisa chino; ladies in tapis and kimona, or the old-fashioned baro’t saya, or a plain outfit with a dramatic malong.
I think it’s worth a try.
Let’s call it “mabuhay day.” If nothing else, it may be a timely reminder of who we are—a gentle nudge in our hearts telling us, “This is home.”