I was just about to wrap-up the final section of the training before breaking-out for lunch when I noticed my legs seemed to be jiggling. Noel, one of the participants had just walked back to his and I thought he was stomping his feet. Then it started shaking. Cold dread clutched at my heart and I asked everyone around the table, “is that an earthquake?” Annie stood-up and I rushed out the door to the reception area where the two young ladies at the desk were staring in wide-eyed horror? It then dawned to everyone that IT was an earthquake. We were on the third floor of the J Center Mall and we all rushed to the escalators, down to the ground floor, and out to the patio. All the while I kept hearing Annie saying, “Earl! Earl! Don’t panic.”
The ground had stopped shaking by the time we were catching out break outside. There weren’t much people at the mall since, aside from being newly-opened and not fully finished, it was a Monday.
It was terrifying. The last time I experience an earthquake was almost a decade ago in Malate when a few friends and I were having some crepes at Cafe Breton. “Earthquake!” I shouted as the ground shook and decorative plates in display on the walls came crashing. That I was in a place far away from home made this quake a little more terrifying.
It was lunch-time anyway so I told everyone else to just be back at 1:30. The mall was closed a for while so the building engineers could check the structure as well as to prevent any panic as aftershocks were expected.
Back at the training room around 1:30, people were panicking as news of a tsnuami alert spread. We heard from various sources that SM and Ayala malls were closed for the day, that Colon was flooded already, and that there was an aftershock scheduled at 2pm. The last one, of course, was simply hard-to-believe. No one predict yet an earthquake, much more an aftershock.
I let everyone go around 4pm as the mall had also closed by now and it seemed everyone in Mandaue and most probably nearby Cebu city had probably gone home. Then the aftershock came. I was seated at Annie’s workstation when I felt the ground shaking again. “Earthquake?” Annie, who was standing beside me, said. We all rushed out again with Pinky, the assistant building administrator in front of me.
It was over by the time we made it down. We decide to call it a day. We had forgotten our bags at the office so we had to run back-up and get them. It’s tiring to be running up and down 3 floors on escalators. Fortunately, the office where I was conducting the training was close to the escalators which were close to the exit to the patio.
We had dinner at Fudge again and while having my white chocolate cheesecake (yummy!) I felt a quick aftershock. Annie didn’t feel it but I overheard the guy seated at the high-stool mention something about an aftershock (the only non-Cebuano word he said) while the girl who had just returned to her seat after perusing the cake display aksed her companions if they felt an aftershock.
The news said that the earthqauke was a6.9 and occured 10k off Negros Oriental where there were reported deaths and damages. Cebu is okay except for all that panick as it was the first time that an earthquake like this occurred. I was afraid that I wouldn’t get any sleep from all that anxiety about another aftershock but sleep did come.
After been stuck in the elevator at the Holiday Inn in Ortigas last Friday and and an earthquake in Cebu yesterday, I’m a little exhausted.