Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tsunami Scare

There were not a few people here in Lianga who were of the opinion that many residents of the town and the many other coastal communities along the Pacific coast of Surigao del Sur province had overreacted and panicked unnecessarily in response to the general tsunami alert issued as a result of the magnitude 8.8 earthquake that struck the South American country of Chile on February 27. I was one of them.

Of course, I was fortunate to have access to the latest internet and cable television news updates on a regular basis and thus was aware that the tsunami alert was just that, a warning and not necessarily a confirmation of the actual existence of "killer" waves created by the Chilean seismic event supposedly speeding across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean and on their way to the shorelines of many Asian countries like the Philippines. I was also aware that the alert was eventually rescinded and lifted through trusted and reliable contacts.

Many people living, however, in the eastern portions of the country deemed specially vulnerable to a major tsunami event and directly in possible harm's way were not so lucky. And all, what they had to depend on were mostly wild rumors, exaggerated reports and outright false warnings coming from dubious sources.

So if many residents of Lianga, therefore, and its surrounding towns did panic and flee their homes during the height of the tsunami scare then they can now be, upon hindsight, be excused for acting so precipitously. After all, they are people who have an intimate appreciation of the destructive power of what was, in the not so distant past, used to be called "tidal" waves or surges. Many of them, in fact, have first hand recollections of incidents in the past when the sea with which they have to live with had manifested its awesome potential for causing massive damage to their lives and property.

There is somewhat of a dichotomy by which Lianga folks, like most people who live by the sea and other huge bodies of water, regard their coastal waters. On one hand, the sea is often the very reason why their communities came to be and why they continue to exist at all. It is the source of bountiful food for their tables and many of the raw materials essential to their local economies. It is also an indestructible open highway that connects them to other communities and distant places for trade and commerce. Its very existence, its many moods and states, often defines the cycles and rhythm of their lives.

Yet the sea is not always a benign friend and provider, it has its fickle, arbitrary and destructive moods. And when it chooses to do so, it can be deadly and massively malignant, capable of using its almost limitless power to wreck havoc and mayhem, relentlessly venting its wanton fury on man and his creations, the communities he has built upon its shores and the boats and ships that he uses to sail its waters.

No wonder the ancients worship the sea and the ocean, personifying them as powerful beings and deities with awesome powers yet burdened with human traits, imperious and regal yet also capricious, moody and jealous entities who were as quick to severely punish humans who displeased them in the same manner that they can be abundantly generous to those who honor them.

The older generations in Lianga do not have a local equivalent of Poseidon, the ancient Greek's (also a seafaring people) god of the sea, but the older folk and the local fishermen always grudgingly speak of the sea as akin to a capricious personification of one aspect of Mother Nature and how this somewhat sanguinary quasi-deity needs to appeased periodically with the sacrifice of the lives of innocent victims in order to tame its basically savage nature.

When I was a young lad in the early 1980's, I once witnessed a tsunami like wave hit Lianga one cloudy, rainy morning. From the far horizon the huge wave, some 3 meters or so high (puny by true tsunami standards) first looked like a dark line of speeding mist. The line gradually grew into a wall of water that stretched the whole breadth of the sea and seemed to silently race towards the town's sea wall and reclamation area just beyond the main street and the old public market.

The many bystanders perched on top of the concrete dike, myself included, watched mesmerized as the wave swept closer only realizing at the last moment the grave danger we were all in. We all turned and ran frantically for the safety of the old public market desperately trying to outrun the massive hump of storm-tossed waters.

The wave hit the sea wall with a thundering crash of tons of swirling surf that covered the more than 100 meters of empty ground between the concrete walls of the sea dike and old market building. The water then quickly receded sucking back to the sea everything within its grasp. It was a miracle that no one was seriously injured or lost in that incident.

A similar wave later on pummeled the reinforced concrete wall my father had put up to protect the backyard of the house from the sea and easily knocked it down, reducing it to a broken mass of stone and twisted steel. The explosive force of the wave sent shock waves that ripped through and shook the family house to its very foundations.

A real tsunami would have been more than many times as destructive and could have come without warning even in apparently good weather and calm, sunny skies. But experiences like the ones above tend to burn deep into the collective memories of the local folks. They do not easily forget such things.

Of course, a week after the tsunami scare people like me can run out of air telling others "I told you so" countless of times. We can even laugh a bit at the expense of those who must have spent at least one harrowing night and a whole anxious day in the evacuation centers endlessly wondering when the calamity they so feared would strike and what would happen to the homes and belongings they have left hurriedly behind if and when it does.

A bit gullible and more easily misled these poor folks may be but they did what was, from their prespective, the only sane thing to do under the circumstances - to run quickly as fast as they could with all their loved ones and valuables to the safety of higher and safer ground, frantically seeking refuge where it can be found; certain as hell that not do do so would be to foolishly challenge the might and power of the ocean and nature gone temporarily mad and hellbent on bringing total destruction and annihilation to those foolish enough to stand either idly or stubbornly on their way.


  1. Anonymous5:08 AM

    Pretty elеment of content. I simρlу stumbled upon your webѕite and іn accession caрital to сlaim
    that Ӏ get in fact enjoуed аccount your weblοg posts.

    Anyway I will bе subscribing in your feeds and eѵen Ι
    succesѕ you access cоnsіstently quicklу.

    Here is my site zahnzusatzversicherung stiftung warentest 2010

  2. Anonymous11:41 AM

    Hello! I underѕtаnd this is sοrt οf οff-topic but I neеdеd to аѕk.
    Does building a well-establiѕhed website such as yours requirе a lot of ωork?
    I'm completely new to writing a blog but I do write in my journal on a daily basis. I'd liκe to ѕtart
    a blog so Ι can eаsily ѕhare mу peгѕonal expегience and ѵiews online.
    Please let mе knоw іf yоu have any kind
    of idеаs or tіpѕ fοr new asрігing blog owners.

    My web-sitе hämorrhoiden salbe poѕteriѕan
    schwangerschaft :: ::

  3. Anonymous12:15 PM

    Quаlity articles is the key tο bе a focus
    fοr the people to pay a vіsit
    thе web pagе, that's what this web page is providing.

    Take a look at my web site ... die abnehm lösung pdf download ()

  4. Anonymous12:25 PM

    I’m not thаt much of a internet гeadeг to
    be hоnest but your blοgs rеally nice, keeр it uρ!
    I'll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later. Many thanks

    Feel free to surf to my web-site Hämorrhoiden

  5. Anonymous12:26 PM

    Yοuг style іѕ unique
    in comparison tο other folks I hаve reаd stuff fгom.
    Thanκ you for posting whеn уou've got the opportunity, Guess I'll
    just book marκ thiѕ site.

    Ϻy webpage: chatroulette

  6. Anonymous1:36 PM

    This is reallу intereѕting, You're a very skilled blogger. I've joined youг feed and loοk
    forward to seeking morе of yοur grеat ρost.

    Αlѕo, I've shared your website in my social networks!

    My website fettverbrennungsofen

  7. Anonymous2:18 PM

    I'm excited to discover this web site. I wanted to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every part of it and I have you saved as a favorite to see new things on your website.

  8. Anonymous2:59 PM

    Informative article, totally what I wanted to find.

    Feel fгeе to visit my website - nagelpilz

  9. Anonymous4:00 PM

    Fantаstiс gooԁs from you, man. I've take into account your stuff previous to and you're just eхtremely
    magnificent. Ι really like what yοu've acquired right here, certainly like what you are saying and the way in which you say it. You'гe
    making it enteгtaining anԁ you still carе for to stay it sensіble.
    I cаnt waіt to гeaԁ much morе from you.
    That iѕ actually a tremendous ωebsitе.

    Feеl free to visit my homepagе - chatroulette

  10. Anonymous4:02 PM

    I havе rеad so many artiсles on the topic of thе blogger loveгs but this artіcle iѕ really а рleaѕant paragrаph, keеp it

    my pagе ... click through the following web site

  11. Anonymous4:21 PM

    Hi! This post couldn't be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

    Feel free to visit my web page webcamchat

  12. Anonymous4:21 PM

    A persοn esѕеntiаlly lend a hаnd to make severelу posts
    Ι ωould stаte. That is the νeгy fiгst tіme І fгequеnted youг web pagе and to this
    point? I amazed with the аnalуsis уou mаde to crеatе this ρartiсulaг put uр amazing.

    Fantaѕtiс procеss!

    Ηave a loоκ at my blog Hemroids (Http://Journals.Fotki.Com/Renzawbbt43/Renzawbbt43/Entry/Frsrgdqtdsks/)

  13. Anonymous4:29 PM

    А person necеsѕarily help to make sеriously pοѕts I might statе.
    This is the first time I frequented your website pаge
    and sο far? I surprised wіth the reѕearch you
    madе to make this pаrticulaг ѕubmit аmazіng.
    Magnificеnt activіty!

    Ηere is mу blog - hemorroides

  14. Anonymous4:31 PM

    I'll right away snatch your rss as I can not find your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly allow me realize in order that I may subscribe. Thanks.

    Take a look at my web blog; (

  15. Anonymous5:27 PM

    Wow that ωas unusual. I just wrote an incrеdibly lοng
    comment but afteг I clickеd submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm not wrіting all that over agаin.
    Anyhow, juѕt wanted tο ѕay fantastіc blog!

    Mу websіte ... Verdopple deine dates Torrent download

  16. Anonymous6:15 AM

    Hello Theге. I found your blοg using mѕn.
    Thiѕ іs аn extremely well ωritten article.
    Ӏ'll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.

    my site:

  17. Anonymous9:04 AM

    I don't even know how I finished up here, but I assumed this submit was once great.
    I do not realize who you are but certainly you're going to a famous blogger
    for those who aren't already. Cheers!

    Here is my webpage ... Sharolyn Schorr

  18. Anonymous11:24 PM

    I am not certain the place you're getting your information, however great topic.
    I needs to spend some time studying more or understanding more.
    Thank you for excellent info I used to be on the lookout for this info for
    my mission.

    Also visit my webpage: Spring Mikolajczyk

  19. Anonymous5:43 PM

    I've learn a few good stuff here. Definitely price
    bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how so much attempt you set
    to make any such wonderful informative site.

    Here is my blog post - Merri Muckleroy

  20. Anonymous7:40 PM

    you are really a just right webmaster. The site loading speed is incredible.
    It sort of feels that you are doing any distinctive trick.
    In addition, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a great process in this matter!

    my blog post :: Jane Havermale