A jolt, a push, then a crash: covering the earthquake in Cebu


It was another of that lazy morning when all you wanted to do was to stay in bed and stay there for the whole day. I didn’t really wanted to get up after that first jolt but the push and the pull of the bed made me think again. The crash of the wine bottles falling swooshed me out of the house.

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Visayas Region in the Philippines last October 16, 2013. Nearly 10 was instantly killed by falling structures in Cebu as the temblor hit while everyone awaited PhilVolcs to announce the epicenter of the quake.

As soon as the shaking stopped, I grabbed my gear – which was still packed in my travel bagpack, and set out to IT Park to find a lot of those call center agents in the streets. Most of them were smiling though and I wasn’t quite sure yet if I wanted to take their pictures. I set my camera to video, rolled and I drove through the streets.

Finally finding a place to park, I hear news about a building that has collapsed and falling structures in Pasil Market pinned down people. Although I have been in Cebu for already 3 years, I really haven’t covered a lot of news. I picked Pasil Market was the easiest for me to find so I drove.

Arriving Pasil Market, siren sound of ambulances and fire trucks became the natural scoring. It wasn’t traffic jammed yet so I easily went through police barricade and parked the car.

The police line was still being fixed when I arrived but just the same the people were already crowding. Since I wasn’t that confident of my Bisaya, instead of going through the people, I looked for an opening for me to sneak in the yellow cordon.

Three people were pinned down by the cement slab which made up the design of the facade of the Pasil Market. When I arrived, rescuers believed that they were all dead. They were vendorsĀ  who were making their everyday living that morning.

The rescuers was equipped but the cement slab was just too big and heavy. It took them time retrieve the bodies. Even though they were believed to be dead, the doctor had a last pulse and vitals check.

Near noon, PhilVolcs already declared that the epicenter was in Carmen, Bohol at first but a day later retracted pointing the area between Sagbayan and Catigbian as the new center. I shot some more destroyed structures – collapsed building near CIT, the Basilica Minore de Sto Nino de Cebu, etc., and went home to file some first photos.

This is how wires usually work. After a big story breaks, get in there, shoot, leave to file the story and then come back for more.

In the digital age we live in, as fast paced people we are, I like to have the information right at our hands. When we hear a story – even that which is still happening, we are eager to be updated and see with our own eyes what really happened – through news media.

I set out again after lunch. The Cebu City Medical Center has already been abandon and the patients were either are the gym or at the chapel beside the fire station. Some of the parts of the GMC building near Fort San Pedro also fell, destroying the parked cars in front of it.

I met my chief in the afternoon and we decided already make preparations to go to Bohol – the epicenter of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake.