Intensity 6.9

Intensity 6.9

NOTE: “Leadership Reflections” shares views of the different members of the University Leadership Council on matters related to campus life and the operations of the University. As well, it features opinions on issues of national and/or international relevance.

Intensity 6.9 
By Dr. Susan Vista-SuarezDean, College of Performing and Visual Arts 
(This article was written on February 6, 2012, when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit Negros Oriental.

Today, even if it was a little rainy, I decided to walk to school. School is about 10 minutes away from where I live. I met Myrish on the way and she asked me why I didn't have a handbag. I excitedly turned around to show her my brand new leather backpack which if you saw it you would surely know it was mine.

The guard who watches the gate gave me a cute salute and asked why I was walking. I just smiled. It's not really anyone's business what I do.

I got to school, signed the documents waiting on my table… Gave instructions for honors day to Ms. Ely, my secretary, and began to practice piano. I play the orchestra parts for my piano students' concertos. Win, a junior piano student is playing Rachmaninoff's 1st concerto in F# minor.  I really needed to practice… I had 30 minutes before my next student.

Then I realized Win's program notes had to be checked in time for auditions on Thursday.  Junior and senior students need to pass an audition before they can do major recitals — program notes included.

Off I went to look for him.

Rica, another junior piano student had arrived and we had to practice his Schumann concerto in A minor.  He too is due for auditions next week. After we ran through the piece I asked him to play “Suggestion Diabolique” by Prokoffief, which I thought he played very well.  Right after he finished his lesson, Stephanie, sophomore piano student arrived for her lesson.

Meanwhile, Win's program notes needed attention. I had to set up the computer in my piano studio. We needed to fix the ones for Mozart's sonata and those for Rachmaninoff's 1st.

After working with Stephanie on Ibert's White Donkey, Win and I ran through Rachmaninoff which I found to be more difficult than I expected.

It was a busy morning.

Ready for lunch, I went back to my office, told Ms. Ely and Nathaniel who were in conversation, “the world's not so nice today.” Then the floor of the room began to move. Nathaniel said, “linog” meaning earthquake. It started slowly…and became more intense. Nathaniel dictating, “get under something!”…… Then it got even more intense! Nathaniel again, “RUN”!

Nathaniel first…then me, then Ms. Ely ran down the rocking stairs. My heart was pounding…. My feet could hardly find the steps going down…. It took so long to get to the ground…. Many were there already. People from the other offices were already gathered…. They too didn't know what to do….  The President was giving out instructions.

Instinct dictated for me to look around…. “Find Dani” — my oldest daughter. She had a class upstairs in the same building as I. Then there she was. I said, “Stay close… call Justine” — my second daughter. Dani said, “I have no load!” Ian, my faculty, called Justine who was screaming on the phone. “Where are you?” I asked. Justine screaming in my ear through the phone, “Angelo King Building…. Ma, I'm so scared!”  Giving instructions, I said, “get out of the building and go to Lola's house.”

Then I looked around. Everyone was on the phone… Calling their loved ones…..Then I Called T, my husband. He was checking up on his ice cream business… I don't think he realized what happened. He said later on that he thought the quake was really a big truck passing by causing the earth to tremble.

Some of us couldn't breathe. Others were laughing. Nervous anxious laughter. Others were just standing there…shocked.

Never have I experienced an  earthquake with an intensity 6.9 on the Richter scale.

It is 10PM. The feeling of panic has not left. My stomach is still doing somersaults. My body still not aligned. My equilibrium shaken.

It was nearly noon when the quake happened. Countless after shocks have followed. The news says this will go on for several weeks yet.

Carla's' graduation recital got postponed. Auditorium might not be safe yet.

We have stuck together… My family…. Ian is here and Ian M. came also. Mom and Dad are okay. While the earthquake was shaking the earth, Mommie just sat watching, while Daddy was trying to pull up the fallen fence post near the front of their house.

Intensity 6.9 made me see that people/ everyone look out for themselves FIRST. Then when they feel safe, they look for those important to them then they stick together. I guess that's instinct.

They say, the quake was caused by a fault in the earth. The fault caused the damage, reaching far beyond its epicenter. Landslides, breaks in the road, taking away homes and lives.

Dani and I walked home hand in hand just to make sure that should the earth open up, it would swallow us both together. Then we didn't need worry about each other.

After lunch, we went to buy water at the grocery. There was a threat of a tsunami. We were so scared having seen how the tsunami in Japan wiped out that whole place! Then we went home to pack our knapsacks.. First aid kits, canned goods, soap, toothpaste. I was laughing…. I packed toothpaste but didn't have a tooth brush to pack…. I didn't want to bring the one I was using…..Then I thought, where am I going?

Intensity 6.9 shook us. It was a warning of sorts. To open our eyes?


Disasters come when there are faults, natural or man-made. Damage comes after the disaster.

What about OUR faults, have they caused damage to others?

Are we responsible, accountable for the damage or damages?

Intensity 6.9's message is clear.

Can we really run from our faults?

Or is now the time to face them?