February 22, 2011 Earthquake in Manila

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 Stef dela Cruz 10 Comments

Two hours prior to this blog post, Manila suffered an intensity 4 earthquake.

I was sleeping. I didn’t feel it. But then again, at around the time the earthquake began, I woke up unceremoniously. I was wondering why I woke up early (I was still two hours short of my 8-hour beauty rest). I wonder if it was the quake that roused me.

I’m still living on the eighth floor in the Southern suburbs of Manila, but I shall be moving to the bustling part of the city – and to the 26th floor of a 40-floor building. Should I be scared?

Just a few days ago, I’ve been telling my friends that one of the things I look for in a home is security and safety even in the face of a major calamity. What happens if a stronger earthquake hits and I’m sleeping? Will I survive? Will the 26-floor building even survive? Here’s what I see when I look out the window (yes, that’s how high up my view is):

Manila nighttime skyline

I remember the earthquake from twenty years ago, last July 16, 1990. Dagupan City was hit big time. About ninety buildings in Dagupan City were damaged, most of which actually visibly sunk into the ground. Twenty buildings collapsed – and none of those buildings were 40 floors high.

July 16, 1990 earthquake in Dagupan City 

I was in school when the earthquake hit last 1990. On our way down to the ground floor, the earth started to rumble loudly.


I was at the foot of the stairs when everyone on the stairwell fell on top of me. I’m fond of the domino effect – just not this one.


While I was trying hard to breathe with the twenty or so students on top of me, the ground right under my face cracked and started sputtering brown mud.  One word kept flashing in my mind: patay.

Ah, yes, there’s nothing scarier than the earth opening its jaws to swallow you whole while your face was flat on the ground. It would have been poetic, if not for the Oh-my-God-I’m-going-to-die feeling that was lingering at the back of my mind.

cry pose


So now, I ask the question: should I be scared? Have I made a rather deadly decision to live on 26th floor? I do not want to look like a pancake when I die! I want to be pretty even as I draw my last breath. Is that really too much to ask?

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She maintains a health column in Health.Care Magazine and contributes to The Manila Bulletin. Add her to your circles.


  1. ang masasabi ko lang dyan, wag tayo maniwala sa kasabihan kung oras mo na oras mo na isang malaking maling panuntunan yun sa buhay...

    sabi nga ng mga doctor prevention is better than cure tama d ba?

    ganun din sa anumang bagay, alin ang safer? ung gigimik ka ng gabi or magstay ka sa bahay? its a matter of choice, you are in charge of the decisions you make, a little mistake has a big difference on the outcome.

  2. @first comment: Thanks! :)
    @second comment: Tama ka. We are all responsible for the choices we make. Biglang nagdalawang isip tuloy ako... Maybe I should find another home. Sigh :/

  3. i remember when the 1990 earthquake struck. you were trying to nap on your desk, then it struck, then you raised your head telling everybody: "don't panic!" and that was precisely when we panicked. coz you know, people don't believe a word you say back then. LOL.

  4. HAHAHA. I remember saying that. Well, nothing much has changed: people still don't believe a word I say up to now. >_<

  5. Baguio City. If there is something i am proud of, is that back then when i was 9 years old, i felt the earth move. i was scared like you know "what-i-wanna-say." the earth really moved, from that concrete road i was standing, as in *expletive-ing move. i cry out "mamaaaaa" even if i knew my mom was still in Saudi. the ground roars, that avocado tree shaked more like a hoolahoop and lots of crying and praying. i honestly believe that was it. the END of the WORLD. july 16, 1990. lately, japan was hit with 8.9 magnitute (we were about 7.7 back then) so im thinking what japan have now is more scary.

  6. @ Tristan: LOL That's funny mate... But I suggest that if you got nothing good to say then don't comment! :)

  7. LOL Reed, down boy. Let's all be friends here. :)

  8. I admire the happiness of the people in the Philippines- Even at the face of stairing death in the face - they can still smile. Noteworthy!

  9. Unknown, where are you from? :) Thanks for dropping by my blog.