The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Northern Luzon several days ago reminded us of the powerful quake that devastated Central and Northern Luzon on July 16, 1990, leaving some 2,500 people dead, thousands injured, and an estimated P20 billion worth of damages.
Our own hometown Dagupan City was a scene of massive devastation and looked condemned to extinction when the 1990 earthquake, recorded at 7.7-magnitude, hit the city.
Buildings sank by one meter, a bridge collapsed, roads cracked open and trapped many vehicles inside, electric poles crushed, liquid mud emitted because of liquefaction, and a number of people killed and injured.
There was pandemonium, fear, despair, and confusion all around the city. People were running back home or looking for their children as the earthquake hit around 4:30 p.m., when classes had just been dismissed.
The national government considered condemning Dagupan City but we, as then representative of the fourth district of Pangasinan, together with then Dagupan City Mayor Liberato Reyna, Sr., Vice Mayor Alipio Fernandez, Jr., our fellow Dagupeños, and our constituents of the fourth district of Pangasinan pleaded with President Cory Aquino to help us rebuild the city. She did and for which we were most grateful.
Together with the late Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya, Sr., we authored the Earthquake Rehabilitation Fund Law which completely rebuilt Dagupan City in two years, as well as paved the way for the rebuilding of Baguio City, Cabanatuan City, and other areas of Pangasinan, La Union, and Tarlac that were destroyed by the powerful earthquake.
We hope that many of us have now realized the necessity of a nationwide preparation in the event of an earthquake and other natural disasters.
We are glad, however, that earthquake drills are now regularly conducted in schools and workplaces, as well as the nationwide simultaneous earthquake drill spearheaded by the NDRRMC, or the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Our country is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, being located in the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire” or “Circum-Pacific Belt,” an area around the Pacific Ocean where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.
Our heart goes to the people of Northern Luzon. But by the grace of God and the unshakeable faith of the Filipino people, we know that our kababayans there will be able to rise from the destruction and despair.
Earthquakes can destroy houses, buildings, and other infrastructure but they can never shatter the indomitable spirit of the Filipino.