Filipinos portrayed as friendly, polite, hospitable and musical. Amok Filipino runs amok. Everywhere leftovers from colonialism. Now called imperialism. Everyone studies Rizal, the national hero, national novelist and poet, national martyr, invoking other heroes- killed Magellan? Datu Lapulapu. Conducted the longest revolt? Dagohoy. Conspired with the British? Diego? Murdered? Gabriela Silang. Self-taught Father of the Philippine revolution? Andres Bonifacio. Propagandist? Marcelo H. Del Pilar. The brains of the revolution? Emilio Jacinto. Wife of Andres Bonifacio, who fought beside her husband? Gregoria de Jesus. Greatest general of the revolution? Antonio Luna.
Chinese dinner at a Cantonese restaurant on Mabini Street with Nick. Shopping emporium with stores, restaurants, and sidewalk venders. Where you would go to buy shoes, eat sweet and sour pork, and haggle over a box of Post Corn Flakes.
Littered with broken glass, parts of the city were flooded by snapped water mains. The walls and roofs of many Old Spanish stone houses and churches outside the town crumbled. Most of Manila’s buildings, designed to withstand quakes, were built of bolted timbers. They withstood the shock better. President Marcos proclaimed a state of emergency.
4:21 a.m. A Friday. Rolled through an 800-kilometer stretch from Aparri in Cagayan to Samar in 33 seconds. Shook bed. Ceiling went one way; floor the other way: 33 seconds seemed like forever. Pitch darkness. Then Fire! Terrified, rushed out of apartment building. Come to find out, neighbors lit candles after the quake. Across town, on Doroteo Jose and Teordora Alonzo streets, in Santa Cruz, six-story Ruby Towers apartment building collapsed. The building collapsed “like a house of cards.” 342 people died. 6,000 volunteers dug with their hands for over a week to extricate bodies and survivors. Hard, dangerous work. Red Cross…served coffee and sweets. A yell went out each time they found a body. More hands and more volunteers, working night and day as fast as they could through all the rubble. Masked because of the dust and death. 125 hours after the quake a miracle: two girls pulled out alive. Now, two years later: accusations. No soil exploration. No slump tests. Poor design. Deficient construction. Inadequate inspection and supervision. Today, on the 1,293-square-meter property now stands a two-story building, room for shops, an eatery, and a club. On the building’s top floor is the Ruby Tower temple. Most of the people who lived in Ruby Toweers were Chinese-Filipinos.
Visit to the Ruby Towers site with Nick, who has an apartment nearby. Town packed solid, inside, outside. Streets packed with buses, trucks, and colorful ubiquitous jeepnies. Concrete surroundings but for the parks. Crowded inner-city alleys leading away from main streets. Broken sidewalks and open sewers underfoot. Overhead, excessive power lines. Major arteries jammed with traffic…colonial-era bridges. Under Quiapo bridge, a market for the tourist. Topside, the old church. More pollution. Smog. Flooded during rainy season. Miserable water pressure. Kids draining water hydrides for their families. Nick is saying, “They have to mainly fetch water at night and often miss school because of it.” Duck down narrow lane to his front door. Reminds me of my doorway. People living on top of each other. More crowded than London. No courtyard. No room for it. Go into apartment. It all looks familiar. T he cement floor. The small kitchen. Toilet without a seat. A few shelves with books: a desk, a sofa, a love seat. No fan. “It’s very hot in here during the day,” Nick says. “I have a window upstairs next to my bed. But I keep the window closed. My neighbors yell at each other all of the time. I hear everything.” I wonder how much they know about Nick. Always fighting. Nick explains how he is lucky, how the rent is cheap, and how his building survived the earthquake. Lucky to have a pump. Pays extra for the pump. The pump a necessity because of the lack of water pressure. Nick’s anti-imperialism, anti-war attitude really got my sympathy. Millions of things have happened to Nick…bad things I won’t go into details about it because he still gets extremely emotional about it all.