Earthquakes are the new trend
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20 / F / Berlin
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Posted 2/5/12 , edited 2/5/12
06.02.2012: 6.8M

The Armchair: My new pal

Over three hours ago, I encountered the strongest earthquake I’ve ever encountered so far. I was at the University of San Carlos, South Campus’ Joseph Jaschick Wing and I had just finished fussing about how my mock job interview with a fellow classmate turned out well when I felt the floor shake. At the very moment the earthquake struck, I was standing in front of an empty chair right before the platform at the center of the room while my other tenth grade classmates were either talking about stuff or also fussing about the upcoming mock job interview. Since I was standing with my weight on my right leg, I easily felt it but my first reaction was that the floor was shaking because someone was jumping around and my first suspect was Jean, the heaviest person in class.

When I looked to my right however, she was seated and the others were either seated on the platform or standing a few feet from me. We were basically doing the same thing: listening to the environment. I was standing there as the building swayed and I have only realized after the quake just how stupid that was. I was expecting it to stop since the earthquakes I’ve felt in Cebu didn’t really last that long.

However, when it became clear that the quake was stronger than average, my brain told me to run away from the building but I remembered the last earthquake drill we had (which might have been four years ago) and as some of my classmates had already started crouching, my nearest friend, Nicole, told me to hide under the armchairs we used. I have always questioned the possibility that if something happened, God forbid, this would actually protect us, but every single time we had earthquake drills, we were always asked to hide under our armchairs.

It was obvious everyone was scared and I had barely heard a word from our English teacher but she must’ve said “get down” or something. At that very moment, all I was concerned about was that the building was swaying. Voices drowned in the background. I don’t know if people screamed but our room was fairly in order. Everyone had gotten under their seats as we waited for the swaying to stop. Some laughed. I did too to ease the fears that were rising with every passing second that the building swayed. Nicole told me to move my chair closer to her to avoid the ceiling fan which I didn’t even realize I was almost directly below of. The quake must’ve lasted over a minute but to me it seemed like forever. When the swaying stopped, I knew I just wanted to get away from the building and everyone must’ve shared that desire. Someone told us to get out but it was evident that many were still concerned with their stuff.

With how slow the process of moving out of the classroom was, I managed to pass my job interview envelope to my teacher, return to my seat which was beside the window and tear the sheet of paper where the fake information on my resume was written on. In a rush to leave, all my classmates were heading to the staircase which was right beside our room but then someone told us to use the ramp so we had to turn back and make our way to the ramp. Again, I have only realized how stupid this protocol is. No matter where your classroom was located, even if it was nearest to the college building’s staircase, protocol says that you should use the ramp/staircase set for your grade level. Although the staircase was right beside our classroom, we had to use the ramp to go down because that staircase was for ninth graders. The Angelus on the loudspeakers drowned in the chatters as we evacuated. On the way down the ramp, I was reunited with another friend and classmate, Julrecha. She hugged me and told me just how scared she was and how worried she was of her little brother. As we made our way down, I could feel my legs still a bit wobbly and only then did I realize that they had been shaking out of fear too during the earthquake.

When we reached the pentagon, where all the students were to gather, my main concern was the aftershocks. We were to gather in the pentagon, an empty space surrounded by five-storey buildings. I briefly calculated the possibilities and eventually concluded that I had to get over the fear. If we were to die, there was nothing we could do about it. As our class gathered, we started sharing stories and Julrecha once again expressed her concerns for her younger brother. She shared to me something I also learned in that short moment: I didn’t want to die just yet. But as I exchanged stories with more classmates, I felt terrible. I didn’t think of my family. I didn’t think of my friends. At that moment I was under the armchair, all I thought about was that I didn’t want to die. I wasn’t ready yet. I’m that selfish. And amidst the fear, I thought of God. And I prayed that it would stop. That prayer may be the shortest but I’ll never forget it. It showed me just how selfish I was. Please Lord, make it stop. I’m afraid to die.

I looked around. People hugged. Others cried. Others laughed it off. And others posed for a picture with wide smiles on their faces. I was among the latter. This may be the best thing about Cebuanos, we smile amidst our fears.

I wasn’t in the mood for classes to continue anymore and I had a feeling the school was going to dismiss us. And the principal did. I don’t understand why quite a number of people shouted “Yes!” when she made that announcement. I don’t understand how others could’ve been so unaffected. Fools, I thought. I didn’t even want to eat lunch. I just wanted to be home. Today, the greatest thing I learned was that I wanted to live. Time is fleeting. If you don’t do what you want today, you never might be able to.

What about you? What do earthquakes teach you?
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19 / F / Phoenix Arizona
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Posted 3/14/12
They just make me sad when people get caught in them and suffer, sometimes die.
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30 / M / Irish/German - Am...
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Posted 3/14/12
I don't think you were being that selfish. Everyone reacts differently in those situations. A strong desire to live has been ingrained in every human along with the desire to protect the pack. The former just won out against the latter I don't see a reason to feel guilty though. Although I personally have never experienced an earthquake, I have had 2 near death experiences. It made me want to change my life .... for about a month. Then it was back to the usual behaviors hahaha . I am glad to hear none of your classmates got hurt and that you are ok. Thanks for sharing your story. Also, I commend your writing skills.
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