Monday, December 23, 2013


A LOT OF PEOPLE here in Cebu make a big thing out of “climbing” Osmeña Peak. The mountain stands at 1,015 meters above sea level and is, without a doubt, the island province’s highest point. But, by the very location of the trailhead at the Mantalongon Public Market in Dalaguete, it meant, that you would only have to walk about two kilometers and climb just more than a hundred meters. Long ago, there used to be a trail but, now, it had become a concreted road. Then you brag about it in Facebook.

Even I, unknowingly, got into that scene in the 1990s and in the early years of the next decade. I have gone there three times with my old mountaineering club, twice on solo and five more times guiding tourists. The last time I was there was in April 2009 when I was “baby-sitting” thirty-five Boy Scouts from the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu. At that time, I begin to see a lot of changes within the Mantalongon Valley and on the peak itself.

What makes Osmeña Peak very attractive to people? Well, for one, it is very accessible and you do not need to have a guide if you are smart to know your way. Second, is you get to relish cold weather unusual for a tropical island and a perfect getaway from the summer heat. Third, the view is impressive and I do not need to explain. Fourth, it is a staging area to enjoy the cool waters of Kawasan Falls after a half day of knee-wrenching downhill hike. Lastly, you get a bragging right being on top of Cebu.

Because of all of the above, Osmeña Peak became Cebu’s highest garbage dumping site. Early mountain climbers and hikers left it pristine but the mountain is not their monopoly anymore – me including. A different crowd goes there to compete camping space among the ethical ones and these are the “seasonal climbers” and the “corporate mountaineers”. Both are not well-versed about the principles of the Leave No Trace and impose their will, not just on Osmeña Peak, but on any mountain. Another thorny issue are the mass climbing activities organized by mountaineering clubs who know their LNTs very well.

I ask you now, WHY, despite gaining just about a hundred meters inside of an hour climbing Osmeña Peak, you need to brag this in Facebook or putting an article of your exploits there for a blog? I, myself, have been mulling that question if ever there were blogs and Facebooks ten years ago. I do not want anymore to be part of that crowd who come by way of Mantalongon then leave a day after bound either for Matutinao, for Basak or back to Mantalongon. Very traditional and I need to change that through this article.

I like creative people and I liked to listen of creative exploits especially those done by only a few groups tackling Osmeña Peak on the other side of the shore. I would love to do that and discover the joys and pains of those who came before me and enjoy that trail while it is still there before concrete takes over. I am talking about the route from Osmeña Peak to Basak in Badian, only, I will do it in reverse. That done, I would give meaning why the climbing of Osmeña Peak is a worthwhile endeavour. I would have love to do a survey alone but I am generous this time.

So today, August 4, 2013, in the middle of the foulest of weather, I am leading this reconnoitering climb, guiding my “tourists” Boy Toledo and Ramon Corro. Both are in their late 50s and they are old men by local climbing standards. What I like about old men are that they stick to schedules and they don’t give a damn about the foulest of weathers which younger people have a lot of aversion to and would gladly abort an outdoor activity at the first sign of rain. Or a muddy trail.

Yes it rained hard last night and the following dawn. When my cellphone alarm screamed it is still raining and cold. Boy called me if the activity would push through which I found as a no-brainer. I take my bath and leave the house for the Cebu South Bus Terminal. By 5:00 AM, I am now waiting for my buddies at Seven Eleven. One after the other, they came and we found seat inside a CERES Liner Bus bound for Badian.

Boy and I belonged to the same mountaineering club but he stayed while I quit after 20 years and organized my own club – Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild – the first and the only one its kind in the Philippines. The fact is, I see local mountaineering clubs too tame and too girlish for my whole liking now and I disdain its full adherence to LNT which cripple individual freedom although it is good to have this as a guiding principle to all the lowest mammals – the newbies.

We reach Badian at 9:30 AM and we go to the market to secure our food ingredients for our lunch, which we will cook along the trail. From the market, we transfer to Basak by tricycle. I share my bread with Boy as our breakfast and I down mine with water hoping it will expand in my intestines. Ramon is a corporate executive. He is just new to mountain climbing, in fact, less than a year. Boy had been tutoring him on the light stuffs while I had been exposing him to the real world.

We leave Basak at exactly 10:45 AM at approximately 235 meters elevation. So that leaves us 780 meters more to gain and, at what time, I do not know. I check on my compass since there is no sun to orient myself. Rain is pouring hard and this is very interesting and challenging. Rain sharpens my mind and covers every trace of my passing. The trail is wet, parts of it muddy, most with puddles, but I choose to skirt it by stepping on side vegetation. Limestones are slippery and every rock is an obstacle.

Every uphill rise is height gained and a chance to settle limbs for a minute’s rest. Cold is an unrelenting tormentor. Each moment of brief rest, it seeps through your skin. You move again but never allowing yourself to overstretch else the cold would grab you by the limbs and make you immobile. Your body heat is slowly gnawed by the elements and, when you have less of that, cold could be menacing, especially at the higher elevations where exposure to wind chill is great.

We reach the small village of Malagaring at 11:30 AM. Sure that would be a good place to stop and prepare our meal but I do not follow conventional thoughts that found dependence on the clock. If I do, we will lose momentum to cold. Lunch could be had later behind those mists, possibly, at 1:00 PM and at a place where we are beyond the halfway point. I know where that would be but it is best that I keep this to myself to discipline stomachs of Boy and Ramon and to lessen their expectations.

After Malagaring, the trail follow the contours of a narrow valley which was converted into small farms. We keep to one side until we cross over a ridge and out into another narrow valley. The trail climb up and cross another ridge and back again into the first valley. By now, farms have been few and we pass by a swath of forest where, twenty years ago have been thick. This forest have thinned considerably through the years as people begin to encroach.

The rain have not abated and it is a welcome option than walking under the hot sun. I know this trail. It is really very warm during a normal day except at the forested area and, of course, during a rainy day. Fogs cover the surroundings beyond 30 meters hampering slightly your vision. Few birds are flying although I hear the noises of those who did not. Pacing slowly, done to accommodate Ramon and to prevent accidents, we gain elevation.

I do not have proper breakfast except for a piece of bread which I shared to Boy. Ramon, on the other hand, had prepared for this event and ate his breakfast early at home. I know that a small piece of bread won’t last long but I drank water afterwards to bloat it. Boy did not. While on the halfway point to the village of Patong, Boy slowed down. Ramon backtracked for him and Boy complained that he is hungry.

I have advised Boy and Ramon to rehydrate often. Just because it is raining and you do not feel thirsty, you elect to preserve your water untouched. What you do not know is that you are surrendering heat to cold and your body need to maintain temperature by food you ate and water you drank. Boy did not take water and his body used up his eaten small piece of bread quickly. Failing that, it would take a toll on your resistance to cold and fatigue.

I keep Boy’s hopes high by assuring him that Patong is just over a low hill. I could hear dogs barking from afar and I see a family below the narrow valley gathering firewood. Ramon did not abandon Boy and both of them are safe. I would not wait for them but would go on my way, only slower, else I would suffer from the inactivity of waiting. The trail is ascending but not abrupt. I look back and the duo disappear from my view.

I pass by solitary houses until I see a small community. A pig squealed somewhere and I pass by a small patch of corn smothered by something more formidable than wind or water. I could feel the tight squeeze upon my calves. I am amused at the thought of people wrestling a pig in the middle of a corn farm which I have not seen but traces of it tell a story. My thoughts are still good despite not drinking myself a drop since I left the trailhead. I know my body very well and I listen and I push it to its limits and know when to stop.

When I reach the village center, I stop. It is 1:10 PM. I drink two gulps of water and sit for the first time on a wooden bench. Oh God, it is a luxury to just be sitting down again. Thanking silently simple blessings are part of my habit. I get up again and prepare coffee and cook milled corn. I know Boy and Ramon will not arrive in five minutes time and both will be safe in each other’s company even without me. The trail is clear and there are houses they could stop to ask directions for.

While I am in the middle of cooking pork adobo, the squealing pig which I heard a while ago arrive bound above a basket which two locals alternately carried. It is a good-sized pig weighing about 75 kilos and the two men would carry that over a high saddle of the Southern Cebu Mountain Range then going down to the Mantalongon Public Market more than four kilometers away in the rain. What a formidable test of strength and balance for these duo.

Meanwhile, Boy and Ramon arrive more than fifteen minutes since I took refuge in Patong. They had stopped earlier to make coffee on the trail and would have prepared meal on their own when they remembered that I have all of the stuff with me. Boy got revived by coffee and both decide to forget their excruciating conditions to look for me which they did after hearing the squealing pig. Ramon take a reading from his digital altimeter and we are now at 641 meters.

Boy took over the cooking of the pork adobo and then the pork stew with mushrooms. I cook another pot of milled corn. The cooking is excellent and I get myself three servings of the hot soup and leave the pork adobo alone. There was so much food left that we gave it all away to the locals. We pack our bags after cleaning the pots and the utensils and leave Patong at 2:30 PM. By now, the rain had stopped but gusts of wind replace it. Wind chill factor is now discernible here but we ate a good meal and I trust that my partners would make good at the higher elevations.

There are now many houses along the route to Osmeña Peak from Patong. I could not blame people owning a homestead in a land classified as timberland. We are here for recreation and they, on the other hand, eke out a living from an inhospitable land and these mountain ranges are not anymore the monopoly of recreational climbers. They have to live and concrete roads give them easy access to sell their produce to markets and I cannot blame why trails are replaced by concrete. It is a fact of life that change is constantly true to its form.

We reach the high saddle and a road project is ominous. It tiptoed over the ridge and, someday, its train of concrete will flow down the narrow valley of Patong and Malagaring and connect to a road that is coming up from Basak. The road will bring convenience to the life of highland inhabitants and, sadly, it will give up woodlore and primitive-living skills practiced by them. I am saddened but, on the other hand, I am happy for the folks, especially the children. It will create a lot of opportunities for them.

We walk down the fog-shrouded road and looked up at the Peak. It deserves a visit and Ramon will have that honor being his first time. What will make it more sweet for him is that he did not do it from Mantalongon. HE DID IT THE HARD WAY FROM BASAK! Boy accompany him up a trail and both initiate their respective altimeters to read mode. Boy with the analog barometric wristwatch at 1,015 MASL and Ramon by his iPhone 5 digital reader at 1,025 MASL.

When the pair got down, we all cinched our bags for a last push down the road to Mantalongon. The light had faded and soon it would be dark. We reach the Market and it is Angelus time. We hop on motorcycles-for-hire for the highway and completed a trek that would now give Osmeña Peak the respect that it deserve as the “Grandfather Mountain of the South” and it also deserves a space on your Facebook wall granting you tackle it from Basak.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

Monday, December 16, 2013


AFTER THE 7.2 EARTHQUAKE shook the islands of Cebu and Bohol on October 15, 2013, the company where I worked in, authorized me to organize a relief mission to concentrate on the severely damaged areas. My company – Tactical Security Agency, Inc. - employ security guards assigned at the different PhilHealth and Pag-IBIG Fund branches in Bohol. Aside that, a lot of our guards came from these places and it is my task to determine which guard will be given aid.

I decide that we concentrate on the areas between the town of Talibon in the north, then going south to Tagbilaran City, as the very places that will be prioritized for relief goods giving, to include the islands. Approved during the discussion were the procurement of rice, canned goods, instant noodles, biscuits, sugar, milk, chocolate drinks, coffee, salt, “bihon” and dried fish and the people that will comprise the team.

After allocating funds good for twenty-one families of our security guards, the company’s relief mission moved forward. So, on October 26, this blogger commenced to undertake this humanitarian mission alone. I facilitated for the transfer of relief packs for the first batch of nine families from Cebu to the Port of Talibon.

The original plan was to distribute the goods on two company motorcycles to be shipped from Cebu but it was shelved due to safety, less info on road conditions and unreliable supply of gasoline on the affected areas. The PhilHealth office in Talibon then becomes the depot of relief goods intended for the guards who are residents of the towns of Getafe, Buenavista, Talibon, Inabanga, Sagbayan and Carmen.

Then on November 2, this blogger again went on another solo relief operation for the second batch comprising twelve families, with which relief bags I again facilitated for shipping from Cebu to the Port of Tagbilaran. The PhilHealth office in Tagbilaran City was used as the storage area of the relief goods servicing the guards who are residents of Tagbilaran City, Catigbian, Loon, Antequiera and Dauis.

During the two trips I took, I made many guards happy. Not because of the relief packs but because this company took pains to recognize their importance in our policies. We take care of our people and that’s what counts. Our security guards are our frontliners and we never abandon them when SHTF comes so we give back. They are our jewels. It is for this reason that Tactical Security is on top of its game in a very competitive industry.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

Monday, December 9, 2013


I HAVE BEEN LOOKING for a place that has a good carrying capacity which could not create environmental concerns in the event Snakehawk Wilderness School starts to accept extended activities on a regular basis. Although the Buhisan Watershed Area and among its fringes is a very perfect site, I could not help it when my activities use up forest resources like bamboos (which is very rare there) and would defeat my own preservation effort.

You see, my partner – William “Jungle Wil” Rhys-Davies – is working full-time to get Snakehawk forward. I have never seen him so dead serious so I suggest a place down south to get Snakehawk over the horizon. I have been to Lower Sayaw, Sibonga last April to scout the area for its resources and to assess its carrying capacity should Snakehawk pushes to host a great number of clients. It was during the time when we were negotiating with a maritime school to equip their students the necessary survival lessons.

Jungle Wil need to visit the place ASAP and I arranged Glenn Pestaño to accompany us there. This is the favourite haunt of Glenn and he knows the locals there very well and so, on July 21, 2013, we meet at the front of the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish in Pardo, Cebu City to board a bus bound for Carcar. In less than 90 minutes, we were dropped at Ocaña, where there is a road going to Napo. From there, we ford a stream and follow a dirt road going uphill.

In less than an hour, we reach the house of our host: Rufing Ramos. We unpack our things to change into dry clothes since we were sweating quite a lot from the uphill walk. Last night it was raining very hard in the city and it stopped at dawn. When I woke up that early morning, it was still raining but I ignored the weather as I am an amphibian. By the time we start the hike, the sun shone.

I tour Jungle Wil around the house of the Ramos family and showed him the different fruit trees and herbal plants grown by Rufing. Then we move to an open meadow on a hill and showed him the campsite which could accommodate more than twenty tents. We follow a path down into a very small valley where there is a dry small brook and show him three different types of bamboo growing.

Further up another hill is another path which goes down to a natural spring that feeds an irrigation canal for a small rice field. The waterway would be perfect for nocturnal hunting as it might be teeming with rice frogs, fresh-water crabs and, possibly, shrimps during night. Along the way is a perfect trail to teach people plant identification and a sort of a “discovery hike”.

We return and I see Rufing setting up two snares with a pressure-trigger mechanism nearby his house. This kind of snare is designed for fowls and birds and he funnel his intended prey by blocking all the spaces in between except through the snares. Hopefully, what would be caught by the snares would be lunch and he did not even bother to place bait.

As we were talking and having coffee, an unmistakable cry of a fowl came from where the snares are located and we proceed immediately to investigate. Indeed, a rooster was caught with one foot raised up high by the cord attached to a branch that served as a spring mecahnism and we have now food. Rufing’s wife dispatched the chicken in the kitchen along with the two kilos of rice which we brought.

Sure enough, we have our lunch at 1:00 PM. The chicken was not tender but it is tasty as it was free-rein. I keep going back to the pots for refills of rice and soup. I see Jungle Wil enjoying very well the food with his old canteen cup. While resting after the meal, Glenn arrive with a gallon of frothing jungle juice. It is not sweet but it is fresh nonetheless.

I go down to another steep valley where groves of spiny bamboos grow. I need to retrieve a short dry pole, a remnant of the ones I cut last April, for use as a trap. This pole would be utilized as demo for a scheduled activity. I return to the house to work on it when Rufing notice fungus growing on the rim and on the insides. I am always wary of mushrooms and fungus because I have limited memories of it but Rufing assured me that it is edible and tasty.

Rufing showed me to a place where a lot of it can be found. It grows on decaying and burnt wood and, indeed, there are a lot of it growing. I ask Rufing what name do they used for the fungus and he said that they call it as “kwakdok” and it sounds funny because it rhymes with “quack doc”. Anyway, we harvested a lot of it and I get to fill a half-full inside a plastic bag. Rufing even taught me how to prepare it before cooking.

Well, after that useful time of foraging, we both go back to the house and proceed to work on the bamboo pole and help finish the coconut wine. When it is about 4:00 PM, we decide to go down back to where we came from in the morning. We got into a snag with a group of old villagers wanting to know more of us and our purpose. Here, we get to drink hard liquor as a matter of respect and concoct alibis so we could leave.

When we thought we are free of them, we again are delayed by another group of drunken, but younger, people on the farther stretch of the road. Here, we have to use all our cunning to get rid of them because, it seemed the glasses of strong drinks are plenty and it is getting dark. When we had finally been freed of “social impediments”, it was already dark by the time we reach the highway.

We leave Carcar at 7:00 PM and reach the big city at 8:15 PM, thanks, in part, to a flying public utility jitney disguising as a bus! I did get home in one piece but I was subjected to bouts of fear on the highway.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

Sunday, December 1, 2013


IT IS THE FEAST OF Sacrifice for the faithfuls of Islam – Eid’l Adha – and it is a bright sunny day. It is October 15, 2013 and it is a legal holiday here in the Philippines and it made many people happy, especially children for there are no classes. My wife did not bother to wake me up early that morning. When I do rise from the bed it was almost 8:00 AM.

I enjoy the day as if it is a Sunday and, as usual, I drink a glass of water coming from the tap before going to the bath. My wife and grandson Jarod are watching TV and I join them in the living room. It is 8:20 AM. Suddenly, without warning, I felt the unmistakable shake of the ground coming from an oncoming earthquake before it begins to accelerate.

I immediately stood up to take shelter under the stairs. The stairs, along with the doorway, are my assigned refuge areas should an earthquake hit Cebu. The stairway is made of steel anchored on a landing three-feet high with the highest step welded to six-inch wide steel purlins and attached to three angle-bar trusses. My wife, together with Jarod, ran towards the doorway.

As me and my wife were shouting for the rest of our household, who all were still asleep upstairs, to evacuate the house, she automatically switch off the main electrical switch while I hold the TV set from falling down and lean my body weight towards my book shelf to keep it from falling. It is like wrestling a brute animal. The earthquake is persistent but I did not give an inch, no matter what, and no book fell.

One by one, Lovella, Gringo, Rocky, Kurt and Gabriel stream down the stairs for the outdoors. I admit I got goose bumps when the quake rose in intensity with such magnitude that had never ever been in my memory. I wished it would stop but it seemed to shake itself forever. The pandemonium caused was like a thousand 18-wheeler loaded trucks running full-speed on a rough road beside your house.

When I think that the shaking of my house was too much and too long, I unashamedly shout to Providence begging the earthquake to stop and my plea was heard or so it seemed. It stopped. Silence. I see my wife crying by the doorway. The rest of my household were on the footbridge and are quite shocked but okay. I trust on that bridge since I know how it was built and how thick the steel bars used.

I go back the house and check on the damage. I see no major cracks on the walls on ground level then I run up the stairs. When I am at the second floor, a strong aftershock hit my house again and I see my firewall swaying east and west. Amazingly, this house is so resilient. During its construction, all the beams, posts and frames are made of steel. I know very well that steel is very flexible unlike concrete.

All the bottles are down but no breakage, especially my Yellow Tail Shiraz and Johnnie Walker Black, which were placed above the ref and fell to the floor but, miraculously, remained intact. Another aftershock came, this time swift, brief and strong. I quickly filled a Nalgene bottle with cold water and went out with it together with my cellphone, my William Rodgers knife and the Cignus V85 VHF/UHF radio.

Once I rejoined my family on the bridge, some of my neighbors are already there. I turn on the radio and scan the different channels. I monitor each and caught some important communications like one individual’s observation of bubbles coming from the depths of the harbor waters at the waterfront, another’s alarming report on the damage of the Cebu South Bus Terminal and another report on a fire in Duljo-Fatima.

I sent text messages to my Camp Red network for the epicenter of the earthquake since I have no Internet connectivity in my home. I got replies and all tell that it is a 7.2 magnitude on the Richter Scale and its center is two kilometers south of Carmen, Bohol. Holy Toledo! I cannot believe it. I noticed the black creek beside my house shaken from its murky stupor.

My estimate was that it was a 6.6 but later reports says it was a 6.8 that hit Cebu. I check the outer walls of my house and along its foundations like the creek retaining wall and the bridge itself where we took our refuge. I check for tell-tale signs of dust and I found plenty on the bottom of my firewall since the outer part is unfinished. That is the weakest part of my house and I will retrofit it once I have a budget.

Aftershock after aftershock, we all stayed on the bridge and when the tremors are not that intense anymore, I visit the backstreet where most of my neighbors lived. All stayed outside and I have never seen so many neighbors! There seemed to be no major damage on their homes and other structures so I go back to the bridge and inspect the wall of a public school for tell-tale signs.

I walk past the school onto the main thoroughfare and looked for structural cracks on the old MJ Cuenco Bridge but I see it had not sagged in the middle nor the problematic soil erosion on one of the foundations where a warehouse is presently built was disturbed. A lot of people are on the street though and too few vehicles.

I go back to the rallying point and we all decide to go back inside the house but two successive aftershocks cause all to go back outside. Another calm interlude and we all found ourselves back inside. When another tremor came, all refused to budge anymore because they could now discern the difference in intensity.

When I think everyone is calm and confident, I leave the house astride a company motorcycle to make a tour of the city and of the offices where the company I worked for are servicing. I pass by GMC Building near Plaza Independencia and it was all rubble on their front parking lot as a parapet fell from its facade. Detritus on the bases of buildings tell of damage overhead and a good sign to evade those areas.

I proceed to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño but it was cordoned off. I continue on foot and take pictures of the severe damage of its belfry. Across this holy place is a commercial building where its top annex serving as a penthouse, collapsed. Two blocks away, the steel tower of the 14-storey Century Hotel is bent at the half.

I arrive at the Cebu South Bus Terminal and the covered interiors are now off-limits to people. A lot of the acoustic boards that cover the ceilings, to include its metal holders, collapsed and fell to the floor. A row of fluorescent lighting units are suspended by their wires after the boards fell and a lot of glass blocks on the entrance and exit facades are crushed and splintered.

From downtown, I cruise for the uptown area and arrive at the Cebu Provincial Capitol, the seat of government of the Province of Cebu. There were a lot of structural cracks on the old building but the greatest damage is from its annex building where a slab of concrete fell on the parking lot infront of the post office. Moreover, the ceiling panels of the Vice Governor’s Office have collapsed to the floor.

I move on next to the Capitol Central Hotel, Leadamorphosis BPO, Escario Building, Cebu Grand Hotel, KIA-Gorordo before making a coffee stop at the Pag-IBIG Fund in Cebu Business Park. From there, I motor on to Sky Rise 1 and Sky Rise 2 at the Cebu IT Park and continue on to the Banilad Town Center. I park momentarily to take a walk to the nearby Gaisano Country Mall, where a big slab of concrete supporting an access stairway broke and fell to pieces.

After that I go to the office to monitor the damage online before leaving at 6:00 PM for home. In all that time, there were already several strong aftershocks and my wife had been texting me to come home as it is already dusk. I returned the motorcycle to its parking area in my neighborhood and everyone are staying outdoors afraid of being caught inside in darkness during strong aftershocks.

My presence brought back assurance of safety to my household as they were held hostage to anxiety and fear when darkness fell. I feel the warmth of homelife beginning to glow as everyone are present and engage in conversations. Calamities such as these brought us more closer as we tuned in to primetime news. Dinner is served and I assume my position as the house patriarch.

The island province of Bohol was the most affected area. 17th and 18th Century Catholic churches, most of these heritage sites and natural treasures, were not spared. The old structures crumbled like sandcastles and the grandeur of yesteryears vanished along with it. I am quite sure that there would be a lot of casualties in Bohol as there were in Cebu.

It was the strongest earthquake I have experienced yet, surpassing the 5.6 magnitude that shook Negros Oriental last year which unleashed a grand tsunami scare in Cebu. Before that, it was a 4.5 in 1989 with epicenter at Southern Leyte. Cebu may be protected by other islands from tsunamis, but it is not anymore immune from big tremors. I am quite alarmed that crust movements are getting uncomfortably intense and so close.

That recent quake lasted THIRTY-TWO SECONDS. If that would go one minute, I am very sure that there would be a lot of old and recent structures tumbling down along with a high casualty rate. I would have survived, of course, underneath my steel staircase even with falling debris but the cost of repairing the damage would have been appalling but not insurmountable.

Always always ALWAYS designate a refuge spot inside your house. That spot is, by your own judgment, the safest place to weather a strong quake. If that cannot be possibly available, prepare an escape route and practice it by memory. That route should take you away from standing structures like unfinished firewalls, electric posts, water tanks, high fences and glass-paneled high-rises. You must also avoid standing below cliffs and coconuts.

Almost always, electrical power will stop and cellular communications will bog down in the first ten minutes. Use the hand held radio, if you have one, to monitor communication traffic and to inquire information. If you do not have two-way radio, use an old-school transistor radio instead and tune in to AM channels. Through these, you will dispel uncertainty and panic among your family and your neighbors.

If you had prepared yourself well from disasters, you and your family would survive the first three days. This time frame is very critical since help would usually come, at the most, 72 hours after the initial impact. Within this span, you and your family will subsist on food and water you stocked prior to disasters. I would encourage people to start learning about prepping and urban survival.

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer