April 8, 2017 — A perfect day awaits. The usual Saturday routine came for me. Woke up at 6:30 AM (later than usual). Ate breakfast fast. Came 12 minutes late (first time ever on a Saturday). Oh well, I thought it would be an ordinary day at school then.

Okay, still not so ordinary, I guess. I got my lapel and wore it again after a very long time to prevent the re-occurrence of sore throat. Yup, I thought that would be the highlight of the day: less vocal strain, more fun in class. Oh, that was for my Writing for the Web class with third year Multimedia Arts students.

2:00 PM. I dismissed my second WRITWEB class (from the 6th floor of the Mabini Bldg) and went back to the Language Learning Center (4th floor) to take a nap. Cool thing we have a sofa there, for I had a chance to sleep for some time and tried to get rid of my headache then. I tried rubbing my very own Padre Pio herbal miracle rub on my forehead and experienced instant relief and coolness on my head. Okay, back to sleep.

2:15 PM. Glrrggggg… Glrrrrggggg…. My stomach started rumbling, seeking for attention. Not what you’re thinking, I guess. And so I hurried to Taza Mia to grab some eats. French Fries? Nachos? Hash Brown? Yepp, nachos with cheese please.

2:30 PM. Back to LLC. Good thing my headache subsided already so I ate my very own nachos with cheese in peace. Alone. As I finished the last morsel of nachos and wiped off the cheese that oozed from the lid, I tried doing some last minute copying of test scores so I could prepare for my “things to bring home” a.k.a. huge, huge eco bag filled with papers to check and record. Oh, the life of a teacher!

3:05 PM. Perfect! I caught the elevator empty and rode on it up to the 6th floor. Just in time for our meeting for an event with fourth year MMA students. Some chit-chats over when I reached the room. We were having a nice conversation about a topic I already forgot when…

3:07 PM. Hmmmmm…. What was happening? Were we really feeling those tremors? And were we really at the 6th floor? Uh-oh. The students and I looked at each other and seemed to be thinking the same thing. Emergency protocol! What should we do?

Okay, so we left the room, for we already saw the glass-laden cabinets moving from side to side. Couldn’t really bear to stay inside the room, most especially since there were chairs all around us, a wooden table, and yes, the large cabinets — which, if the earthquake had been worse (which was already the worst so far we have experienced), could have toppled us all over. 5.6 magnitude there.

3:09 PM. We were already reaching for the stairs slowly when another quake hit. This time, at 5.9 magnitude. Pretty strong indeed! My heartbeat went from thump thump thump to dooogggg dooogggg doooogggg.

“Wag tayo magpanic. Kalma lang,” I was telling the students. (Don’t panic. Stay calm.) “Duck, then cover.”

The building was still shaking. My hands were trembling already while I was holding my phone. Ringgggg. Ringgggg…

“Kumusta kayo jan,” (How are you there?) my mother asked via phone.

“Eto, pababa na kami ng 6th floor.” (We are trying to go down from the 6th floor.)

5th. 4th. 3rd. 2nd. Ground. Whewwww…. onto safe ground. There, that was the best feeling ever so far — reaching a destination I thought we’d never reach after a hell of an experience up there. I saw familiar faces out there at the CBEAM parking lot grounds. We stayed by the grassy, open portion near the CBEAM building and waited until the shakes subsided.

Roughly 3:30 PM. “O, pwede nyo na kunin yung mga naiwan nyong gamit sa taas,” (you can already get the things you left upstairs) stated our school President.

“Oh my,” I thought. Of course, we can’t use the elevator. No choice but to go up through the stairs. And yes, my eco bag was at the 6th floor while the other papers were at the 4th. Talk about climbing the stairs during an earthquake! Good thing a male student volunteered to come up with me then. Thank you, Lowell!

Off we went up. Trying not to panic, I calmed myself during every flight of stairs I climbed. I prayed hard, that we may not experience another strong quake while going up.

“Lord, please, keep us safe from any harm or danger along the way,” that was my prayer then. I couldn’t feel any pain in my legs. As long as we get to reach our destination safe and sound, I’m fine. Okay. 6th floor. Done.

Next. 4th. I grabbed the key to the Faculty Room and speedily tossed the long plastic envelopes onto the humongous eco bag. Off they went without thinking. Okay, everything in there. Good!

Just one more thing. The Language Learning Center’s main key. Oh, it needs to be locked. Trying not to panic, I locked the heavy glass door. Phew…

Off to the stairs. Whew. Whew. Whew. Just one more flight, and we’re out.

3:45 PM. Off to the Oval. A lot of students, staff and teachers were standing there, as one, waiting for the trembling to cease. Some more aftershocks. And another one. And another one.

earthquake batangas
Image Courtesy of Lavoxa (from Twitter) @lavoxa

4:15 PM. I rode our car. Thank God! I’m coming home.

At home, at last. Tears rolled down my eyes. I just don’t know what I felt that time. Fear? Yes, that must be fear. Fear that that could have been the last day of my life.

I felt . Yes, happiness. Happiness with the thought that I made it out of school alive.

Hope. Hope that there’s still tomorrow to face.