17 years ago...
After school, I went to my Grandma's house. It being a house open to everyone, that afternoon, many of my Mom and Aunt's friends were there. Their kids were there too and we were all having fun. It was almost 4' o clock and my Mom kept telling me we had to go as she had yet to prepare dinner. I, reluctantly - with a very heavy heart, agreed to go home. So my Mom and I hailed a cab. We were half way home when suddenly the cab we were riding started to shake left and right. I saw the electric and telephone lines swaying violently. I did not understand what was happening. And then there was a landslide on our right side which covered half of the road. Our cab driver decided to jump out and abandon me and my Mom. My Mom and I were still confused when there was another landslide but this time at the back of our taxi. When my Mom saw this, she grabbed me and we jumped out of the taxi. We left everything - our bags, umbrellas and jackets. Everything was happening so fast.
Mom and I held hands as we ran down the road. The ground was still shaking. By this time, there were so many people on the roads already. Mom and I saw a basketball court where so many people had gathered many of who brought out big religious statues, many were crying, some were hysterical, most were praying their rosaries. I was still confused. Just as we were about to step onto the basketball court, the ground cracked! We had to jump about a foot across.
There was hysteria everywhere. And I remember my Mom just kept saying "Anak (child), just hold my hand, just hold my hand." And I held on to Mom's hand very tightly.
I do not remember when the ground stopped shaking. But it did for a while and that's when my Mom said we would start walking home. We were still around 3-4 kms. away from our home. When we saw a number of people walking towards the direction of our house, Mom decided it was time to walk home, at least we were with other people.
Walking home, I still could not understand what had just happened. There were still people crying in the streets, some looked like they were running for dear life, some were shouting for help - confusion. One lady who was walking home with us just broke down in tears, relieved when she saw her little girl along the road shouting "Mama! Mama!" And then embraced each other.
Mom looked very scared. But we held on to each other's hands very tightly. I just remember entering our driveway and seeing that half of it was gone, my Grandma, Grandpa, Uncles, Aunties and cousins were there. They were all too happy to see and my Mom alive. And my Dad embraced us very very tightly upon seeing us. I saw that they had brought out pots, pans, plates, chairs and tables.
Mom wanted to take a look at the inside of our house and to get some things like extra clothes, food. As we were walking up the stairs, the ground started to shake again and I remember I could not even grip the rails of the stairs anymore. We panicked and ran down. When we were calm enough, we went up and saw the inside of our house completely Topsy Turvy. My goldfish pets were on the rug, the piano was on the other side of the room, food from the ref were all over the kitchen floor. Mom told me to grab whatever I wanted to and what I needed. I grabbed my pink teddy bear and said that's all I needed.
That night, we all slept together downstairs in my grandparent's home. We all slept in the living room on the floor. The men - my Dad, Uncle and Grandpa watched over us. The ground still shook throughout the night but we were all too tired to wake up and run outside.
The next day, the adults got a better picture of what happened and what was yet to come. There was no more electricity, so we only relied on a small battery operated radio to listen to news reports about what was happening in the city.
I remember many many people coming to the house asking for help from my Dad and my Uncle to help look for missing relatives.
My Dad felt it best that my Mom and I leave Baguio for a while. So we did, together with my other cousins and Aunts, we headed down to Manila. We stayed there for 3 weeks. And when we returned home, Baguio would never be the same again.
Hotels and buildings collapsed, homes were ruined. Many were trapped inside and many died. Most decided to leave the city and look for a new home.It came, silently, unsuspectingly and hit the city of Baguio leaving it to never be the same again. Later on, I got to understand the vast effect of the 1990 Killer Quake that hit the summer capital of the Philippines.