July 16,1990, exactly 24 years ago when a 7.8 Surface-wave magnitude hit Nueva Ecija and Cordillera Region, causing 28 buildings to collapse, and killing more than 1,500 people. Electricity, water, and communication lines in the city were destroyed and shut-down for more than a week. Several roads were closed due to landslides and it took almost a week to clear out debris and became accessible. If you can still recall, Baguio City was badly hit, as it was disconnected to the entire country for 2 days after the earthquake because Kennon Road was shut down. Loakan Airport can be used but only limited aerial force can access it.
One of the most famous landmarks of Baguio City – the Hyatt Terraces Hotel, was totally crushed down to ground, and (reportedly) 80 people including guests and employees were killed. Although Hotel Cook Pedrito Dy made a world record for entombment underneath rubble for 14 days. He survived by drinking rainwater.
In my hometown, Cabanatuan City – the then tallest building in the city, Christian College of The Philippines collapsed during the earthquake, 154 people were buried alive by a six-storey concrete school building. Thankfully, the roads going to the city were not shut down hence; local and international media, as well as rescuers were able to arrive within hours after the tremor. But one name surfaced rescuing fellow students and teachers – his name is Robin Garcia. He was killed by an aftershock. He received Posthumous tributes including medals of Honor from the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and then President Corazon Aquino Grieving Heart Award. CCP is the only building in Cabanatuan City that collapsed during the earthquake.
Me and my family? We were actually having our siesta in our room, back then. We were staying in a boarding house near our university, I was barely 8 when the earthquake happened. Aftershocks were everywhere, that we couldn’t sleep through the night. As far as I remember, classes were suspended the entire week since pipe repairs, traffic road damages and electricity were all over the place. And even a slight jiggle and wobbles, we will go outside the building thinking that the magnitude will increase and staying inside the building were not safe. It took us 1 month to adjust into everything, and tried to back to normal.
And now, a Signal 2 typhoon hit the same region. Rammasun a.k.a Glenda made its landfall near Legazpi City in Albay. And just after hours, Signal #1 was increased to Signal #2 in Nueva Ecija and nearby provinces. Hopefully, this will not give the same grief and devastation to my fellow Novo Ecijano…