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Earthquakes and memories

/ 01:26 PM October 27, 2013

When the earthquake cum tsunami swept Acheh and Phuket in 2006 and that which devastated eastern Japan in 2011, I was horrified watching them on television. But when the 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck last Oct. 15, I was in the middle of my scheduled 4-hour dialysis at Unit 5 Perpetual Succour Hospital. The nurse attending to me and another patient in the unit rushed to the next unit where there were more patients. I kept still for one slight move would dislodge the tubes and I would lose a lot of blood, and no one was there to attend to me during the 30-second tremor. I could only mutter “How strong! How long!” three times. After the tremor, the nurse hurriedly stopped the dialysis, detached the tubes from the machine and safely taped the two needles with the tubes on my left arm. Then we were told to go to the open parking area, stayed there for a few minutes and then we were transferred to the hospital’s gym because it was very hot.

For two hours all patients were huddled in the gym, newborn babies and their moms, bedridden elderlies, with doctors making their rounds checking their respective patients. One of the doctors in the renal department constantly reminded me to be careful with the tubes and the needles still stuck in my left arm. Water and bread were served to all patients. From one patient’s transistor radio we learned about the magnitude, the epicenter and the damage wrought by the tremor. After two hours we had our needles unhooked at the canteen since no one was allowed to go back to the hospital. After taking lunch at the canteen, I went home and was stuck to the radio the whole afternoon and the television coverage the whole evening until the next day.

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The footages of the destruction wrought by the earthquake in Bohol on century old churches to houses and public buildings and especially the terrain of most of the towns of Bohol were so mind- boggling for I am familiar with most of these places.

My familiarity with Bohol goes back to 2000 when as director of the Central Visayas Studies Center of UP Cebu, I organized with funding assistance from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, a three-day Visayas Conference on the Philippine-American War in Tagbilaran City. The first two days were spent on paper presentations while the third day was a guided historical tour to the sites of the encounters between the Americans and the Filipinos on the eastern part of the province particularly the towns of Dimiao and Duero The week before the conference I made an ocular survey of the sites to be visited by the participants with the assistance of Mr. Marianito Luspo of the Holy Name University and the facilitation by Claire Jabines, my former student in UP Cebu who was then with an NGO in Bohol and later would join me as research assistant and eventually become a faculty of the social sciences division of UP Cebu until the present.

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I remember we ended the afternoon sessions at 4 p.m. because the participants went to visit the Chocolate Hills which was way out of the route of our historical tour. It was memorable because of the warm reception of the towns of Dimiao and Duero, the surroundings were just breathtaking, and there were local historians with us who gave us interesting information about the places and the events that happened in the areas. Also, I learned several stories unique to the locales in terms of language and expressions used like saying “cholera” after each sentence and putting the word “yawa” before a noun.

I first learned about Maribojoc in 2005 when I was handling History 1 to a freshman BS Mathematics class. My requirement was to write the history of their town and to present the history in class as a final requirement. A male BS Math student from Maribojoc, a product of their Science High School (I just forgot his name), wrote a very comprehensive town history of Maribojoc with proper citation and documentation and accurate research work. The guy knew his town very well!. I shared that write-up when I had the most memorable experience in Maribojoc in the summers of 2008 and 2009 when I assisted the heritage and tourism program of the town headed by its tourism officer Mrs. Mary Anne Jabines, the mother of Claire Jabines, by conducting a heritage mapping of all the barangays of the town with the assistance of my then assistant Jo-An Cosido and Ruel Rigor, a heritage scholar and researcher of southern Cebu and Claire Jabines. We were quartered in the house of Mrs. Jabines’ friend whom we called Mamala which was located beautifully overlooking the Avatan River with the lush nipa palms gracefully lining the riverside. The back portion of the house where our bedroom was located had a full view of the Avatan River which greeted us cheerfully every morning during those two summers.

I also met Mayor Evasco who was on his first term and was very supportive of the project and I could see that the town was very systematic because the cultural mapping was very smooth. First, the attendance of the barangay chairpersons and some councilors including the SK members was perfect. The orientation was well received and the mapping procedures were very clear, that each chairperson would take charge of their respective barangay like identifying informants, guides of the mappers. The 2008 heritage mapping was basically doing the survey of the natural, built, intangible and movable heritage of the town through its barangays. The 2009 workshop was a validation and interpretation of the information gathered in 2008. When we made our rounds during the mapping we passed by a few barangay officials escorting those who were doing the heritage mapping. Part of our cultural experience in Maribojoc was having dinner on a floating restaurant made of bamboo rafts. It was fun eating the sa-ang from its shell then throw it back to the waters so it would bear flesh again. Then we attended an awarding ceremony of the town where we were recognized for our heritage mapping work. I learned that they have an ordinance prohibiting smoking inside the sports complex and other closed-door public venues for entertainment.

Now that Maribojoc has been devastated, I have pledged my commitment through Claire Jabines to assist in the heritage rehabilitation of Maribojoc.

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TAGS: column, Earthquake, opinion
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