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Sarcasm Aside

random thoughts of a self-diagnosed neurotic with the attention span of a five-year old... a blog by Alternati

Roasted Langka Seeds

Sunday, July 16, 2006



Afternoon. I was doing my routine e-mail check-up... Forwarded e-mails... spam... Haribon Bulletin for July... more spam... Online journals... even more spam... Friendster Blog Update from "Jackie"... oh. Click! I'm a blogging newbie, so I check every single blog update that passes through my inbox. A couple more clicks and I'm reading Jackie's thoughts (Jackie... If you ever read this. I'll fax you the release forms so I can use your name... officially. hehe). It's a Lilac schemed Blog with a picture of her adorable daughter. Blog entry title "July 16". (Jackie I'm quoting you verbatim. This is in the release form. :P ) She starts... "gawd. i can't think of a better title, a more creative one. what the heck.. july 16 brings back so many memories - painful ones at that.. july 16, 1990 was when a deadly 7.7 earthquake struck baguio at 4:20 in the afternoon.. i was in 3rd grade, i was 9 years old. kakauwi ko lang nun (I just came home)..." read more... Jackie wrote about her experiences during the July 16 Killer Earthquake, a bitter-"sweet 16”"years ago. I can't believe I forgot about it, I was too caught up in the mental pre-spending of my 2 week vacation.

Three images of that time have been etched in my memory. First are the photos of the sections of the Hyatt Hotel that tumbled like dominoes. Second, the blankets and bed sheets tied end to end hanging out of the windows of the fallen Nevada Hotel (where Nevada Square is now), And lastly, the broken shards of a white ceramic elephant lamp on our living room floor. Every resident of Baguio during the earthquake has their own personal story to tell. Mine goes...


Roasted_langka I was ten, in primary school, sprawled on our couch doing what every ten year old primary school student during that time does in the afternoon, watching cartoons. We had FEN then, our house was within the radius of the satellite service of Camp John Hay, when it was still run by the USAF (I miss the old CJH). Nothing beats a school day afternoon spent with Tom and his nemesis Jerry. Kakauwi ko din lang nun (thanks to daylight savings time) I was in my underwear because I was in the process of changing into my pambahay when the MGM lion started roaring signaling the start of the show. My mom gave me a bowl of roasted langka seeds (eto ang pamagat ng "Maalaala Mo Kaya" episode for today) which I savored. So there I was on the couch with my brother, my mom nearby reading the newspaper, my sister in her room, my dad still at work... when the earthquake struck. We felt what the lettered dice for Word Factory might have felt like when you shake them in their egg crate like box to start a new game. It started with a slow vertical vibration which made everyone know something's wrong. It then gained momentum and started shaking our whole house sideways and diagonally and every direction possible, I remember feeling frozen and incapable of movement. When I saw that our piano, which took three strong men to move, started dancing this way and that, I felt, and so did everyone in the house, the urgency to go out as fast as possible. Running during an earthquake is like running drunk on a bus aisle while it swerves. It stopped when we reached the driveway. All our neighbors were outside by that time too, the last 45 seconds or so seemed like an eternity. Everything was still, everyone was stunned silent... and then the hail came. To a ten year old catholic boy studying in a Catholic school, an earthquake and hail were way too much to handle. It really felt like the end of the world... like living the Revelation... waiting for the four horsemen of the apocalypse to swoop down and chop your head off or something like that. My dad came home, or to the street at least cause that's where we were, and that comforted me and my siblings a lot. The sphere of a kid's universe is small and it contains probably only the home, the front yard, the street and extends outward two neighbor's houses away or so and knowing everyone in my family was safe made me think twice about the whole apocalypse-happening-right-now. I wasn't even aware then of the number of deaths and injuries, buildings collapsing and people camping in BurnhamPark , I was snug in the make-shift shelter we made on our porch. Days after the earthquake were actually a little bit fun for a ten year old... no school, relief goods from John Hay that came in those brown plastic army packs, sleeping outdoors, etc. except for the occasional after shocks that made you pray the earth would hold itself together.


A man (or probably a woman) once said "What doesn't kill us… only makes us stronger" (or stranger? hehe... either way it works). As we grow older the sphere of our universe does to. As a ten year old, my world occupied a very small portion of BaguioCity... house and school. As a twenty six year old, I'm affected by what happens in the geographic world... 9-11, the Tsunami in South Asia, Hurricane Katrina, Iraq, Leyte, and so many natural and unnecessary man-made catastrophes. Living memorial trees have been planted annually in Baguio in memory of those who died in the 1990 earthquake. My personal form of remembrance... eating a bowl of roasted langka seeds... remembering the Baguio that was before the earthquake and celebrating the Baguio that is because of it.

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