15 October 2013: The Day the Earth Shook SugBohol


It was the 15th of October, 2013, 8 AM in Banilad, Cebu City. Just as I was about to dress up, a mild tremor shook my apartment. For being so used in mild earthquakes in Mindanao, I ignored it. Then suddenly, the earth shook violently. Only wearing a wrapped towel, I immediately ran to open grounds near my pad. The earth shook violently that my neighbors were crying to stop. The electricity was shut down. The walls were pounding like it’s going to collapse.

It was more or less a minute or two of violent shaking. Quickly as it came in, it faded away, with some aftershocks.



Shattered remains of the staircase at Gaisano Country Mall in Banilad District

The internet was on. News from social media was pouring on that wild tremor that was felt all the way to Mindanao. Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo, Leyte, Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro…we have no idea where was it coming until USGS initially registered—magnitude 7.1 (7.2 on PHIVOLCS), Del Carmen in Bohol (which later would turn out, it’ll be in Sagbayan). We were shocked—the epicentre was that close to Cebu!

The town of Sagbayan was the epicenter of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shook Bohol and Cebu. It is around 40 or more kilometers away from the metropolis.

I called the office and my manager said that all people were evacuated. The curious I didn’t stop me from walking towards the office. I like to see what happened after that great tremor. So I head of.


Cebu IT Park was filled with evacuated workers, mostly from call centers and outsourcing companies.

Weird, it was a national holiday. Banilad Road shouldn’t have that much traffic—but it had. As I approached Gaisano Country Mall, people were rattled and went outside. There was scattered glass debris from the street lamps. Then the first sight of destruction came in. A portion of the mall’s staircase fell on the ground. People were abuzz. Media was already there. After I took a photo of it, I went on to IT Park.

The quake shook rather violently. This restaurant's glass walls in Cebu IT Park were shattered by the intense rocking.


Reaching one of Cebu’s main business centres, people were going home at that time. The organised evacuation within the district has left thousands of call center agents, BPO employees and office workers out of the building—Sinulog na ba? The scene was like a big picnic ground but rather with a tense twist. The earth was still shaking at that time when I was there.

More of shattered glasses

Looking for my officemates, I immediately dismissed that we won’t be having any work for that day. The guards won’t let us in.

Captured a few hours after the earthquake. The belfry of Basilica Minore de Santo Nino de Cebu collapsed during the tremor.

A cameraman was able to get a shot of this.
That morning, I told myself that I won’t be going back to my pad since there’s no electricity. I checked my tab, good thing the internet was working, and saw photos posted on social media—the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino’s belfry was destroyed, a building in the southern portion of the city collapsed, Cebu Doc University’s building was damaged, and people in different hospitals were immediately evacuated outside, and reports of deaths in Pasil and Mandaue is streaming in.

Some damages from the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
Then we realized that 10-15-2013 wasn’t just an ordinary day. We experienced an event that would forever be etched in the psyche of the Visayan history and culture–the day SugBohol (Cebu and Bohol) was shaken.

El Pardo Church in Pardo District of Cebu City
The sight of the Basilica’s damage just brought me almost to tears…and so I said—I’ll go downtown! Ronda! Ronda like how a journalist does! The start of my Cebu City ronda, post-earthquake ocular of the city.

A commercial building collapsed near Alaska Mambaling area in Cebu City.

And I guess, the rest of the photos would be enough for us to see how the country's second largest metropolis came to a halt and menacingly jolted by aftershocks for days on. Thank goodness though Cebu didn't took brunt. However, the thoughts on our Bol-anon brethren lingered.

We went back downtown after seeing El Pardo. Candles were scattered. The cross tilted. The marker was also tilted in Magellan's Cross.
By afternoon, the Basilica opened its doors to the curious crowd. The damaged belfry became a tourist attraction. It would be years before the Basilica's old church will be accessible to the public. Good thing it has been restored now.

More from the curious onlookers at Basilica del Santo Nino

A portion of a commercial building beside Plaza Independencia fell on unsuspecting cars parked below. No one was injured here.

The centuries old walls of Fort San Pedro were damaged as well.

The garita of Fort San Pedro was damaged by the earthquake

Like thousands of Cebuanos that night, we slept under the mercy of the starry night. The menacing aftershocks brought concern on sleeping inside our homes. That night, I too slept outside. Thank goodness, there wasn't any rain and the night was cool enough. Well, the old katol and insect repellent did the job overnight. 

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