Spared from a 6.9 Magnitude Earthquake PDF Print E-mail

by Tess Lopez

February 6, 2012; the people of Negros Oriental awoke to a usual morning. To many, however, this day never turned that way.  Instead, it became a terrifying memory of fear, filled with the stench of death and a dreadful encounter with mortality.

Shortly before noon, while people were going about their daily chores, the earth shook with raging anger, demolishing buildings, overturning tombstones and razing homes to the ground. Roads snapped, creating fissures on the ground. Bridges tumbled like decks of fallen cards. Mountains collapsed creating an avalanche of rocks and sand. The mud spared no one along its path, burying homes, animals and people -- many whom were never recovered.

While the whole province felt the quake, the municipality of La Libertad and the City of Guilhulngan suffered the most damage. To date, hundreds still live in tents for fear of going back to their homes as aftershocks are still felt. Written on the faces of the people are distressing signs of trauma and uncertainty.

And yet my hometown in Vallehermoso just next to Guilhulngan, was spared. I thank God that it  did not suffer structural damage, save for two mountains which cracked ( due to weak soil composition and tree cutting).

Mayor Joniper Villegas had already ordered evacuation and relocation on these sites. I was relieved that our home was not affected by the quake. I was particularly surprised that, as reported by our housekeeper, all the images of Christ and Our Lady on top of the cabinets did not fall.  A 3-foot image of St. Joseph which will be donated to a chapel fell but did not break! Even an image of Our Lady of Fatima in the multipurpose hall of the museum did not fall!

As thanksgiving for being spared during this 6.9 magnitude quake, we organized a thanksgiving Mass and prayer rally with the high school students of the public school and St. Francis High School.

The Mass was officiated by Rev. Father Felipe Narciso, the school’s director and parish priest of Tagbino. Attending were Mayor Joniper Villegas, Vice Mayor Ann Ann Gustilo, faculty, and students of the schools, numbering about a thousand. Some of the citizens also attended. It was a beautiful and solemn event thanking the Lord and His Mother for sparing the town and invoking Their protection from further calamities. The Oratio Imperata was prayed and after the Mass, flower offerings were placed at the foot of the image of Our Lady of Fatima.

February 6 will never be forgotten in the hearts and minds of the people of Negros Oriental. To many who lost their loved ones and homes, the lingering question will always by “Why?’  Recalling the lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel’s “ Sounds of Silence,”  perhaps beneath these tragedies, God is whispering a silent message for all of us.

The prayer rally can be viewed at http://youtu.be/p8c0R9pq76g