February 6, 2012

  • Tsunami in Cebu!

    Thoughts

    We recently had an earthquake incident, which is really not so common in our area, although not rare as well since we are after all along the ring of fire. The earthquake cancelled our afternoon class.

    On my way back to the dormitory I was shocked to see a mob of people coming my way. I thought they were my fans, but no. When they were getting near, I noticed the expression on their faces – panic, despair, uncertainty.

    I asked one of those rushing towards uptown Cebu and she said, “The tsunami’s coming!” 

    I was like, seriously?

    Apparently, an unknown guy cried wolf, and with the people’s fears reinforced by an earlier tsunami advisory by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvocs), it was not hard for massive hysteria to ensue.

    But then Cebu (together with the part of Negros Oriental that’s been pointed as the epicenter of the earthquake that would supposedly trigger the tsunami) is located between two islands with a narrow strip of sea separating the islands. This unique geographical characteristic makes it impossible for a tsunami to develop in the area, particularly that which would hit Cebu City or Dumaguete City.

    So, I was like, why then did Philvocs issue the advisory? It seems that it caused more damage, with the panic it fueled, than good. Still people argue that it was better for Philvocs to issue the advisory rather than be blamed afterwards if something would really happen.

    But then, nothing would really happen, not unless you take off the map the other islands that buffers Cebu and Dumaguete City from the deluge of a giant wave, and that would take like a hundred more strong earthquakes, God forbid.

    Of course, the earthquake, per se, caused a lot of damage with a few casualties, especially in areas near the epicenter, as this picture represents:

    But with regards to the tsunami, I think Philvocs was being irresponsible in issuing a warning for something that is so unlikely to happen. Yes, in some places a tsunami may occur following an earthquake, but this is not Japan or Aceh which is exposed to the open sea, this is Cebu and Dumaguete, places hidden from the ocean where their is a likelihood for the water to be vacuumed into its vastness only to be spewed back with such a force that would qualify for a tsunami.

    I guess they were trying to save face for not having said something of the earthquake that shook the region.

    ***

    I couldn’t avoid the temptation of posting this once-in-a-lifetime event that made me laugh, cry, and burn in anger for having to put up with an incompetent government office.

    Forgive me, its just that this advisory did not only affect a few people, but a whole metropolis. There were lots of scenes that are funny, yet, the sincerity of the people’s intent makes it heartwarming. 

    A friend related to me that one time she saw two person arguing whether to bring the coffin of a loved one with them to the higher ground so that it won’t be swept away by the tsunami. While there were those who had to rush to schools to fetch their kids, dashing in panic not caring whether they get bumped by approaching cars. It was really a terrible scene.

    ***

    Well, here’s some funny moments:

    A friend was riding a jeepney when the earthquake happened. She noticed it and immediately told the driver, who candidly replied:

    “Of course there’s an earthquake, we’re passing by a motel (where people go to get laid)!”

    (Source: USGS, Philvocs | Photo credit: FacebookUSGS and Philvocs | Video credit: YouTube)

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