Are we prepared for an earthquake?

The last time I felt an earthquake was some three years ago or more. It was the night of a friend’s birthday celebration and we were all gathered in his house enjoying brandy, seafood and the usual exchange of stories and jokes.

Something was weird when I suddenly felt dizzy and that the whole place was shaking though I was certain I only had a couple of shots so I was neither tipsy nor drunk. Then everyone else stopped laughing and drinking and froze in their seats, turns out I was not the only one who had noticed it. Until finally, after we all looked up at the fluorescent lamp hanging from the ceiling and saw it swinging side to side, we realized that it was an earthquake. A strong one at that. My first thoughts were to look for some cover or head out the door, my friends on the other hand, and as if by instinct, grabbed the brandy bottle, the food and the ice bucket then stood up ready and alert to make a run for it. Never mind that things far more expensive and important are starting to fall off from where they’re placed on.

Fortunately, the earthquake lasted for only about 10-12 seconds and it didn’t get stronger. By my own reckoning, it was a moderate quake, IV on the Mercalli intensity scale which is 4.0 – 4.9 on the old Richter scale.

Last Friday, March 11, it was a completely different and more intense story in Japan when a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck off its northeastern coast. Tsunami soon followed and caused massive damage on the coastline. Later that evening, local news are filled with stories about the tsunami alert placed on eastern seaboard of the Philippines. Soon after, news about families worried sick about their relatives in Japan filled in.

Thousands in the most vulnerable places were quickly evacuated and everyone prepared for the waves to come. It did and we’re all thankful no one got hurt nor did it cause any damages. Fortunate indeed we are. For now.

After seeing videos and pictures showing the extent and scale of damage the earthquake caused in Japan, it made me think that when and where the next one would strike? Of course no country would want to be that next one but all we could do now is to prepare for the worse.

Which brings me to what most Filipinos are asking as well, as we prepared when the next ‘big one’ hits us? With the magnitude 8.8 earthquake that struck off Japan’s northeastern shore now placed in the one of the top 10 biggest earthquakes since 1900, it scares me more than do typhoons that regularly visit our country.

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