Yesterday was quite a traumatic event in Manila when a magnitude 6 earthquake hit the Philippines. I was alone at TriNoma mall in Quezon City at one of the top floors when it hit.
I was at The Spa about to get a massage. It came out of nowhere. At first, I thought the masseuse was moving the bed and I heard a couple of loud thumping sounds at the same time. Then it stopped. Probably I was so tired that I didn’t realized the earth was already moving.
It stopped for a few seconds then the bed move back and forth again. This time the masseuse said while she had her hand on my back leg, “Ma’am earthquake. Let’s not move until it stops.” It was the longest time in my life, it felt like eternity. Automatically in my head, I was praying for it to stop. Please not now.
Finally after the longest minutes, the earthquake stopped. Everything was eerily quiet. We went out the room’s tent designed room, greeted by one of their staff. I immediately went to the wet area to retrieve my things and immediately tried to dress myself, shaking hands and all.
I can’t even lock the accordion restroom doors but I keep telling myself “it’s okay just do it fast then go out.” I went out and the receptionist and other staff were completely calm, trying to repress their panic inside.
I walked out The Spa when an Ayala mall operations worker went in. Outside people were on their phones and some guards were guiding people to calmly go down. I was looking for the fire exit but I couldn’t, despite the fact that I was at the garden area on top of TriNoma where stairs are mostly leading to the ground floor.*
I realized I need to go inside the mall and go down one more floor where all these stairs are since all elevators and escalators were shutdown. How do I go out as fast as I can without panicking?
I was trying to reach my mom but I couldn’t and this was much more worrying than my current situation. So while still on my cell phone, I immediately entered the sliding glass doors and walked down the halted escalator to reach another floor inside the mall.
I saw an older woman, having a hard time going down, as she was alone, and helped her go down the third floor of TriNoma. It was where we can go out the garden area again and walk down the stairs. Two more floors I said and finally reach the open grounds.
Finally I arrived on the open grounds but it was like a scene out of an action movie, all rescue units from Ayala were already there and an ambulance coming in from Mindanao was arriving trying to cross the street – probably from Veterans Memorial Medical Center which was right across the mall.
I was bewildered, do I go home or go to the other mall where Vertis North’s parking lot with the other people the guards were guiding? So many people were already scattered on the streets, the vehicles were all halted, creating traffic at the Mindanao Avenue and North Avenue crossing – amidst the MRT-3 construction. I talked to one saleslady and she came from the second floor. She said a glass window already broke inside TriNoma.
Hands shaking, I tried calming myself down and told myself to cross the street and go with the crowd to the open parking lot where all the rescuers and mall goers where at. It’s safer if an aftermath strikes. I was almost on the verge of crying but I held myself back. Seeing panic or bewildered faces made it hard but I had to be stronger as I was alone.
Upon reaching the massive crowd huddled in front of Vertis North, one of the sales ladies with her kid said to me that there was already an aftershock. It probably happened while I was going down the mall so I didn’t felt it, thank God.
We waited for probably 30 minutes or so, I decided I needed to go home. The mall WiFi was not working, I had to use my data and Facebook kept crashing. I told myself if I post some aftermath photos at least if one of my family see it, they’ll know I’m fine as I can’t reach my dad or my siblings yet.
I decided not to book a Grab or Angkas as it seems much impossible. Despite not wanting to go up an overpass, where chances of getting electrocuted was quite high if ever the earthquake strikes again, I had to get to the main road.
There weren’t much public utility vehicles and still a lot of people were walking on the streets, while some vehicles trying to move. It was a bit chaotic, how ironic with the beautiful sunset in Manila.
Luckily I was able to get in a van. At first the woman at the back was telling us needing a ride that she had the three seats reserved. I waited at the side of the van thinking should I walk all the way home, asked a motorcycle or anyone else offering a ride possibly if all else fails? A woman saw me inside the middle of the van and said to hop in. Finally I was almost home when I went down a nearby street. I had to walk up again another overpass and walked the rest of my way home.
Upon reaching the gate, I held the door and stopped while holding the metal handle, “Thinking what if it was worse and it was my last day alive, without seeing my family – alone?”. When I went inside the house. I was so relieved that my family was fine and safe. April 22, 2019, Earth Day, an unforgettable day in Manila.