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Shake, Rattle and Relax

A deep buzzing rumble growls under the ground, then the house shakes strongly and suddenly. It sure got my wits up late at night. That was some terrifying trembling. Initially, I thought that some massive truck which could be delivering to the farm behind our residence had driven through and rammed the structure of our walls. Oh, it was the ground. Nature seemed to taunt me when after I assured my mother that no other quake would come and that she should sleep soundly, a few more similarly strong shocks kept me up on my bed. Just as I would doze off, the ground would rumble again and shake. I heard that in many areas, people went out of their houses and stayed along the streets in the anxiety of what we perceived then as aftershocks. Oh no, not me, before the last earthquake of that night/early morning, my own slumber was far too powerful than the ensuing tectonic tremor that I must have been loudly snoring when the ground was shaking.

But just the same, I woke up with a bad hangover without having drunk any liquor. I woke up early to go to work, only to be greeted with an announcement of suspension because of people’s “insomnolence”. Thanks to the Mayor’s writer for enriching my vocabulary. That was a drowsy day. The earthquake or earthquakes was the hottest topic all over.

I was told there was another one that early Saturday morning, which I didn’t feel because I was still too deep in slumber, drenched in dreams. But I was awake on the front row seat again on the series of shakes on Sunday late afternoon. But according to reports, Phivolcs had recorded a total of 27 earthquakes. Where was I in all that quaking?

Over the weekend, residents across the district have become panicky and prayerful for protection. (Don’t get me wrong. I believe that faith and spirituality should be inalienable components of daily life.) But forgive me if I come across as insensitive, but run it by me again. What happened again? So, your floors and walls cracked? Which structures collapsed? (Don’t get me wrong again. I’m not asking for cracking or collapsing walls. I’m grateful that we don’t have any of those.)

A nervous friend asked me what I do when one of those earthquakes strikes. I told him that I stay chill on my seat, keep calm and yell at my mother to do the same; then wait for the tremor to stop, and continue on what I had been doing. He laughed at the peculiarity of my position. )It wasn’t really a laugh of ridicule. It was more like a laughter of surprise.)Yes, anxieties are understandable. But haven’t we gone through them already for a number of times and have gotten through alive, safe and sound? You seek protection. Protection from what? Falling debris? Engulfing concrete? The recent earthquakes have not attacked physical structures. Rather they have attacked our emotions. One experiences some violent shaking that runs for less than a minute, and becomes tense, unable to sleep or work, or still able to work but unable to focus and perform efficiently, and continue to be tense as if having experienced a calamity of catastrophic proportions. Now, consider the other option of just keeping oneself calm on one’s seat and letting that brief battering pass, because after all, they don’t inflict physical damage anyway.

People’s concerns and complacencies on issues seem to be misplaced. We’re all jumpy with a jolt of the shaking ground when they had not and do not pose probability of causing infection or death. However, on the other hand, some people don’t seem to mind going to and fro and congregating for meetings and parties, choosing to be unmindful that a person does not become free of virus just because he/she is family or friend, or still holding on to the principles against vaccines. Persons in flesh and blood have actually died from this, but the momentary quake that does not and had not shown to cause any physical damage seems to sow more fear. (I’ve been told that in one public school in a town near Naga, almost all teachers showed Covid symptoms and did not report it. After some time of self-imposed, probably lenient quarantine, they nonchalantly went back to the work place with the badge of pride of having survived what they might refer to as “trangkaso lang”. Its a good thing that they obviously had mild symptoms. But what about the people whom they have come in contact with, who could have experienced more severe effects?)

But then again, I remember that people were as edgy and panicky when the pandemic initially hit home. I remember the paranoia about the family in Concepcion Pequeña who had been infected, and the passengers of the van which stopped in Canaman. So, maybe after some time, we’ll get used to the quakes.

“The earth and all who dwell in it melt; It is I who have firmly set its pillars.” -Psalm 75:3


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