06 Feb2012

I am in Cebu, and just before lunch, felt the effects of the 6.7-6.9 earthquake that struck between Negros and Cebu just before lunch. It was roughly 5.0 on the richter scale in Cebu, and the epicenter was some 80+ kilometers away. We went off to lunch, and by 2 pm, headed back to the office only to be stuck in gridlock and people panicking, some running with their dogs, santo nino’s etc. all freaked out by tsunami warnings, false rumors, texts of rising waters, etc. It wasn’t funny at all. Folks on overhead pedestrian walkways hanging out as though securing a loge view of the catastrophy about to happen. Taxi drivers took their passengers to higher ground without being told to, and people rushed from the coast to the foothills of the mountains to the West. Rumors of rising waters on downtown streets were mixed with others too silly to repeat. Some of our own employees wanted to abandon shifts and head home to secure property and family. Our offices, located on a hill some 20 meters above sea level, and a commanding view of the city below, even had people running up our driveway to seek a higher vantage point and safety from rising water. I am not sure what started all of this, other than a basic and standard post-earthquake tsunami warning, but it royally pisses me off that such mass action could take place so quickly without real logic at play. For hours, the city could be described as being gripped by panic. Do so many thousands of people simply act on the slimmest and misinterpreted news? Has texting increased the ability to sow panic without real basis? Could a passing boat near the Carbon market be the real reason for the raft of texts that waters were rising and thus the panic? The earthquake was on the OTHER side of the island of cebu, so even if there was a tsunami, it wasn’t likely to hit the eastern side of the island where Cebu City is located! Government officials have gone out on television to try and calm nerves, but that it got this far at all was amazing to me. Imagine what would happen in a REAL catastrophe? Our prayers are with the families of dozens of folks missing and presumed buried in landslides triggered by the earthquake in parts of Negros, and much less so for the thousands of folks in Metro Cebu who caused such a ruckus for no logical reason at all.

P.S. I should have taken a photo of the swarms of people near structures above ground… and if only Mrs. MM got a snapshot of people rushing into IT Park saying there were waters rising at the Waterfront Hotel nearby (that isn’t near the water front)…



  1. Sunset Goddess Manila says:

    I’m glad you and your family are safe. Sad thing about the state of panic—there should really be more disaster preparedness drills and programs all over the country.

    Feb 6, 2012 | 4:46 pm


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  3. Lerker says:

    There were people in our village who went up to their rooftops and roofs. I tried to tell them that it doesn’t make sense that the tsunami would come from the east coast of Cebu. Naawa ako sa mga kids running in the streets and crying. :(

    Feb 6, 2012 | 4:51 pm

  4. ami says:

    Yikes! I read about the earthquake on yahoo after lunch and it mentioned there that Philvolcs raised a tsunami warning, hence the panic you witnessed. I guess most folks didn’t take the time to check the facts such as where’s the epicenter of the earthquake. I’m guessing that the Japan tsunami and Indian Ocean tsunami was flashing through their brains.

    Hope everything is back to normal there.

    Feb 6, 2012 | 4:54 pm

  5. Makati Vacation Rental says:

    This just happend now? I hope everyone is safe and okay.

    Feb 6, 2012 | 4:55 pm

  6. bisdakRN says:

    I guess the thought of the tsunami that happened in Japan is still fresh on the people’s mind and made worse by wrong info spread thru text messages. Im glad my family and friends are okay. Prayers sent to those who are affected esp in Negros Oriental area. Im glad too you and Mrs MM are okay too, MM.

    Feb 6, 2012 | 4:55 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    The tsunami warning was for maximum wave height of 1 meter or so…

    Feb 6, 2012 | 4:56 pm

  8. crabbychef says:

    MM, that’s just awful. I saw the breaking news on the net and thought to check on your site, knowing you are based there. Panic really does not help during disasters…assuming there is a disaster in the first place. Keep safe.

    Feb 6, 2012 | 5:08 pm

  9. january says:

    i heard of it from my broker a while ago and told me that people really panicked and decided to call off work.

    hope there will be no casualties mr. mm and safety for you and your family.

    Feb 6, 2012 | 5:34 pm

  10. Alex says:

    Dumaguete seemed to have suffered a lot more damage than Cebu.

    I think Text messaging is a helpful tool but I have seen numerous cause of panic and false rumors passed on by gullible citizens.

    Feb 6, 2012 | 6:06 pm

  11. JE says:

    I just learned of this a few minutes ago. I visited Dumaguete a few years ago, and very much liked the city; hopefully this earthquake won’t have any drastic or catastrophic effects there.

    It’s also great to know you are still very much rational and level-headed in these types of scenarios.

    Feb 6, 2012 | 6:21 pm

  12. Betchay says:

    Glad to know you and your family and the rest of the crew are ok. People need to be educated.Panic is not the answer to safety!

    Feb 6, 2012 | 7:42 pm

  13. Susie says:

    My 4th floor office was seriously swaying this morning….it was scary. We’ve just had 3 aftershocks in the span of a couple of hours, one while we were having dinner. I don’t think I will sleep well tonight.
    I think people panicked because of all those texts going around and because of irresponsible media reports, especially on AM radio.
    Thank goodness it wasnt any stronger than it was today.

    Feb 6, 2012 | 8:27 pm

  14. evav says:

    what happened today was a bit scary. we were released from office early due to the tsunami warning and our GM believe that it is not safe for us to stay in the office considering that our office is located on the 14th floor. on my way home i saw people running for their life and shouting “ni saka na ang tubig”. i got panicked too, so i run for safety and went back to the office located on the 14th flr using the stairs. i almost passed out due to fear and exhaustion. even the squatters living near IT park take refuge on one of the rooftop of the highrise building in IT park. thank god i was able to go home safely.

    Feb 6, 2012 | 10:36 pm

  15. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    My heart goes for the victims ..happy to know you guys are safe, we were there in 1990’s earthquake and Pinatubo eruption so scary.. that we relocated here, but we have Mt.Rainier:):) Take care!!

    Feb 7, 2012 | 2:17 am

  16. Aileen says:

    I supposed that in addition to issuing a tsunami warning, people should also be aware of “areas of inundation”. In the San Francisco Bay area, the local government’s website includes a map of where waves might reach in the event of a tsunami. This concern is all new to us since the Banda Aceh tsunami, however, the government could do its part by helping us help ourselves. Awareness and preparedness – that is the key.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 3:40 am

  17. Mari says:

    I heard about the earthquake this morning (NY EST time) from a co-worker and looked at the map to figure out where exactly Negros was…and looking at it, I wasn’t even concerned of the tsunami on Cebu City. Even if another co-worker was insisting that Cebu was affected, I calmly said…of course there would be shocks but no tsunami as it is on the other side of the island… They were concerned as Cebu was part of my itinerary next week.

    I am sorry for the victims and their family and I hope no harm has been done to the panicking of our fellow countrymen. Our prayers to everyone…

    Feb 7, 2012 | 4:28 am

  18. kristine says:

    It was indeed ugly to witness the mass panic. Our building is designed to sway with the earthquake but people totally panicked and rushed out. We really need to get serious with those disaster preparedness drills.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 6:32 am

  19. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Another characteristic within our culture that serves no value except to dramatize a given situation. I’ve noticed this

    Feb 7, 2012 | 7:06 am

  20. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    to be all too prevalent in society.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 7:26 am

  21. millet says:

    sad. and stupid, i’m sorry to say.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 8:49 am

  22. rickyg says:

    people still have images of the tsunami in japan a year ago, guess this was foremost in their minds, once a tsunami warning is issued.

    shows that we still have a long way to go in educating our populace, regarding nature and on public safety bulletins.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 8:57 am

  23. rowena says:

    Same here in Dumaguete City. In the hospital where I am working.
    How people could be so cruel as to send false text messages about a tsunami… Its bad enough for one to be a patient lying in a hospital bed with a magnitude seven earthquake happening. We had to carry our premature babies out of the nursery and find a safe place outside of the of the building. Some patients (and their families) for the rest of the day and night preferred to stay in the makeshift tents in the open basketball court rather than go back to their airconditioned rooms in the top floors of the hospital.
    Still, Something positive and good came out of this experience, we saw hospital personnel trying to place the needs and the safety of patients first before their own; consistent compassionate care.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 10:24 am

  24. yette says:

    Hi MM. Am very glade that you and your family are are safe. When I heard of the earthquake in Cebu you and your gang were the first one that came into my mind. I don’t have any relatives in Cebu but I consider you as one of my friends albeit only on the web. Its rather unfortunate that people choose to panic first before getting the facts

    Feb 7, 2012 | 10:27 am

  25. lee says:

    I really hate those who spread panic by sending false text messages. It was scary yesterday when I felt the earthquake here in Bacolod City. I honestly did not know how to react. I just waited for the tremors to pass.

    Feb 7, 2012 | 10:42 am

  26. cebuana101 says:

    so true, blessing i was home. otherwise, i would have been caught in the melee.. truly terrible…

    Feb 7, 2012 | 3:25 pm

  27. corrine says:

    Text messaging is a very easy way to sow panic. People should be responsible in not causing undue fear or anxiety.

    Feb 8, 2012 | 12:45 pm

  28. aji says:

    Here’s the video of people panicking.


    Feb 8, 2012 | 5:01 pm

  29. Josh Catalano says:

    Actually Tsunamis travel at 500-700 kilometers per hour, not everyone would have internet access to know where the epicenter was. Better to get to high ground first and sort things out from there rather than leave it too little too late. Panic no, but get to high ground for sure… (I lived on Guam when the Japan Quake hit and we were evacuated to Tsunami safe heights, I also lived in Hawaii where Tsunamis were an ever present threat and in fact my old home town of Kailua-Kona was torn up by the Japan Quake)… An overabundance of caution in coastal areas is wise not foolish, just don’t panic… I also lived in Baguio City and experienced several earthquakes there as well as having lived in Los Angeles, so I’m pretty experienced when it comes to earthquakes… The fact is that the quake that hit cebu could have easily been an advance quake before a bigger quake…

    Feb 20, 2012 | 8:31 pm

  30. Marketman says:

    Josh, the epicenter was on the other side of the island of Cebu, and the earthquake occurred 2+ hours before the panic started. Since one side of Negros to the western shores of Cebu island are say just 20-40 kilometers, then a tsunami would have hit the western side of cCebu in less than 10 minutes or so after the quake. And it would NOT have greatly affected the eastern side of the island. Radio stations and other media all announced tsunami warnings and at what levels of wave height (the maximum was 1 meter threat, I believe). None of them said that the side where the city of Cebu is located was at risk or in any imminent danger. While I agree that being cautious is good, the panic in cebu was caused by people sending histrionic texts that were not based on fact. Others used bull horns to frighten citizens into a panic. And people didn’t know enough to remain cool and listen to informed sources on public radio stations. With 3 million people in Metro Cebu, if only 5% of them headed to higher ground for no reasonable threat detected at all, it would have been pandemonium. Besides, for example, with folks running up to the gates of a mountain side development, some 150+ meters above sea level, and some 6 kilometers AWAY from the sea, wanting to climb another 150 meters still higher, you have to think they are simply ignorant of the risks involved. I am not belittling the risk of a tsunami or its devastating impact, but what happened in Cebu simply shows you how ill-prepared and educated the population is about catastrophic risks and what to do in the midst of them.

    Feb 20, 2012 | 10:50 pm


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