The story of us

Sun.Star Baguio - - Opinion - MA. ELENA CATAJAN

STO­RIES be­gin some­where and mine started when the earth shook. The July quake was the day be­fore the birth­day of my cousin, who is the only friend I had when I started school here. I re­peat, my only friend.

In the morn­ings, we would go to school to­gether, beat­ing the 7:30 bell at the all-girls school which was still at As­sump­tion road and walked home

Yes, we were a tight group of two.

I don’t know what kind of losers we were, be­ing cousins who lived in the same com­pound and best friends who went to the same school, but we didn’t care.

Nat­u­rally, we were to­gether at the time of the great quake of the 1990’s, the city was un­der Day­light Sav­ings Time [DST], I for­got why re­ally and am too lazy to google re­search this small de­tail. The point is, it set back time for an hour.

That day, we were on our way home, aboard a jeep­ney at Ses­sion road, by LA [La Azotea], it was traf­fic and we were sit­ting at the far end of the jeep, look­ing out the blare the rush hour brought when sud­denly, we heard a loud noise, we thought was a gun­shot and started to slowly panic.

Later, we re­al­ized the sound was the sharp thud of bricks on the pave­ment from the build­ing which was sway­ing be­cause of the shakes

And then we started the jour­ney home, it was weird that we man­aged to ride the same jeep go­ing home and found every­one out in the streets.

My brother had to be coaxed to go down the house as we lived on the sec­ond floor.

When all was safe and ac­counted for, tents were set up and we had to live in these makeshift homes for weeks.

The tale of the quake was slowly fall­ing into place for many whose nar­ra­tives re­volved around the days when the city was in ru­ins.

The smell of death and grief was ev­ery­where. My grand­mother who was on her way to the city via bus had to climb three moun­tains only to be turned back and walk the same moun­tains to re­turn to Manila.

We had to be air­lifted to the low­lands when an aunt man­aged to hitch a ride with the mil­i­tary to the city aboard cargo planes.

We even­tu­ally came back when school started, again our class­rooms were tents set up out­side the cam­pus to save us if an­other shake hit.

Ru­ins sur­rounded the city as life started to go back to nor­mal.

But it was never nor­mal af­ter that.

It was the time I re­al­ized I wanted to be­come a jour­nal­ist.

Thirty years af­ter, peo­ple com­mem­o­rate the quake of 1990 like it was yes­ter­day.

I be­come a jour­nal­ist and July serves as a re­minder why.

Ev­ery Wed­nes­day

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