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Sunday, October 19, 2014

33 Seconds of Terror Recalled in Bohol

The bells at the St. Joseph Cathedral in Tagbilaran City rang for 33 seconds at exactly 8:12 a.m. yesterday. Outside the church, sirens of police cars and ambulances were turned on for exactly the same number of seconds.
On the same day last year, Boholanos woke up to the shaking of grounds when the 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the province. The horror brought about by the earthquake lasted for 33 long seconds, toppling centuries-old churches, leveling concrete houses, destroying bridges and roads, and killing at least 200 people. It happened exactly at 8:12 a.m.
“It was the longest 33 seconds of my entire life,” said Mamerto Maghanoy, a 63-year-old Boholano who cheated death by jumping off the window of his house before it was razed to the ground.
Yesterday, the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake, thousands of Boholanos were gathered to hear mass inside the St. Joseph Cathedral in the capital city. In other towns, masses were also held to commemorate the tragic day.
When the first bell rang at 8:12 a.m., everyone inside the church sat or stood quietly in attention. The chitchats turned to deafening silence. Everyone knew that it was on the same day and the same time last year that the earthquake struck the province.
As the ringing went on, people started wiping their tears, others closed their eyes apparently to recall what happened to them a year ago. Outside, ambulances and police cars turned on their sirens, parked vehicles blew their horns.
“We are gathered here in order to celebrate… not the destruction of our houses nor the deaths of our loved ones but to celebrate the love of God, which made us stand up again and go through all the challenges brought about by the calamity,” said Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso in his homily.
Medroso urged Boholanos to face the future with courage and brave heart after the year-long test of faith has passed by.
Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto also announced, for the first time, that Bohol has already risen from the tragic event that struck the province last year and that the Boholanos have moved on.
“Let us all thank the people who helped us and continue to help us and those who made it possible for Bohol to rise again… we have already risen… now we are ready to say that Bohol has moved on,” Chatto said.
Chatto especially thanked Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, who was in Bohol for the first anniversary of the earthquake. It was the MMDA that first sent a rescue and retrieval team just hours after the tremor.
“Today, we can still count and recall the many damages, the deaths, as well as the psycho social impact of the incident that happened last year. While tragic, many beautiful things came out of the event, it produced the best of the Boholanos and the best of the Filipinos. But please let us all pray and ask God that it will not happen again,” Chatto said.
Before the mass was ended, the projector near the altar presented a slideshow of the destruction caused by the earthquake. A list of the names of those who perished was flashed on the screen.
“Some of them were my neighbors,” said Manong Mamerto, a native of Loon town, the hardest hit municipality.
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