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A time of reckoning

By Nora Soriño

ILIGAN City–My friend in media, Rica and I got to talking about things related to what has been happening these past few days. The words “retribution” and “reckoning” then came into play for both of us. So, I asked Rica, regarding the action of the mayor or the employees of city hall. They and everybody here for that matter didn’t quite really know what to do. Was the word “retribution” applicable to them? This was concerning their actions during a morning quake during office hours at around past 9 am Oct. 29. They went about, confused as to what they were going to do amid the shakings all around them. This is based on the report of Mayor Regencia.

I remembered friend Nene in Cagayan de Oro about her struggles during the quake. She was hospitalized at that time, on the 7th floor of some hospital there. When the quake occurred, she told me she had forgotten about her sickness. She got up and run to a lower floor! She told me that in a phone call a day after that Oct.29 morning quake.

And then I remembered my struggles, too. I was in the bathroom at the time. Suddenly, my head was spinning. It then occurred to me that I might be having some sort of attack. Until I heard shouts outside of “Linog! Linog!”

I couldn’t ask Rica of her struggles during that time Maybe it was so traumatic to narrate? 

“Was this ‘retribution’?” I asked instead, remembering the word associated with one Leah Navarro. She received flak for it.

Rica smiled a little and then said: “No, it would be ‘reckoning.’ Like asking: Were the city hall officials led by the mayor focused on the quake drills at the time of those drills? And well, how was the construction of those buildings where the mayor and others are presently holding office? Mayor Celso Regencia, to note said there’s a long crack in his office due to the earthquake. “So, it’s time to ask those questions. Of whether they were focused during those drills. And whether the buildings they were in were constructed following what should be.

“Singer Leah Navarro received flak for saying that it was some kind of “retribution” for us in Mindanao for our ‘sins.’ For this, she was declared “persona non grata” in Gensan. This is ‘retribution’ as she sees it. Although we don’t agree with her. For such is a sweeping condemnation of us who are in this beloved island of ours that is Mindanao.’’

I couldn’t agree or disagree with Rica. So, I said nothing, but made some inaudible, ‘’ahh.”

And Rica proceeded: “There’s some variation to this thinking of hers though. It goes by the word ‘reckoning.’ Like, how did the buildings that collapsed got constructed? Did the contractors and some LGU officials moderate their greed in the construction of say, some legislative building, barangay hall, or school buildings?

“We learn that it’s not only the materials used in the construction that determine whether the structure can withstand some calamity like earthquakes.

“There’s also the matter of mixing. Like what is the correct ‘mix’ for floors vs. pillars, on a particular structure. The ratio and proportion, I mean, of cement to the other materials needed in making that structure.

“We call that in our language as ‘buhos.’ Blanca, a good civil engineer I know says that this is a very important aspect in the construction process and they have to watch and be meticulous in this aspect.’’

As Rica proceeded, I then knew, per her statement that in all branches of engineering in school, there’s that subject of “Strength of Materials.” Many engineering students find this subject difficult and they have to struggle very much to pass this subject.

“Little do we know that later, when they practice, this subject come into play in the field of construction,” Rica continued. “And also, there are other areas too, among them, the matter of mining here in Mindanao. Were we or are they who are in mining reckless about it? Hence, the softening of much of the areas beneath the surface of the earth?

“So, there will be some ‘retribution’ some kind of ‘payment’ for that ‘greed.’ A kind of punishment Although this is not of the Leah Navarro kind. I understand her as saying that we in Mindanao are the ‘sinner kind,’ hence, the series of earthquakes that come as ‘punishment’ for us,” Rica continued.

This, in a nutshell, was how Rica pictured it.

And then, she voiced her apprehensions regarding the “modern market” to be constructed in Palao, this city. She said the cost has been changing— from P400 million to P500 million then to P590 million.

There’s also the matter of whether there will be underground parking spaces. We understand that at first, it was already approved. I mean the matter of this underground parking. Only, sometime later, some guy in city hall decided that “there’s no need for such kind of parking space.” Although the cost remains the same.

“With this development, we can do some ‘analysis.’” Rica continued further.” Especially if we take into consideration the construction of the temporary market at Tambo Bus and Jeepney Terminal. There were many faults and corrections on that market which was only temporary and costing either P33 million or P35 million only. With six months behind schedule!

“So, now what if it’s already a construction project, at a cost of more than P400 million because it’s very ‘modern?’”

Those were Rica’s additional thinking aloud. More rambling. And it kind of affected me. It was confusing, at least, to me.

“You know what?” Rica continued. “I’d rather not see that market through being constructed. I’m afraid that there will be a time of reckoning. In the form of some earthquake collapsing this modern market!”

With what she was talking about, I thought that there was a turmoil inside her head. Imagine, getting worried about something that has not come about. Maybe that was this earthquake thing did to her and many of us here in Mindanao. So, I told her of this story.

There was a father who said that he was building a five-story home for them. His kid he was talking to said that he was going to climb to the 5th story of that building.

“Don’t do that,” the father admonished the kid. “You will fall!” The kid though insisted and he was whipped by the father because of his insistence on climbing to a non-existent 5th floor of a non-existent building.

The two of us then couldn’t help laughing. Even if it was only for some moments. For somehow, I felt the quakes had rattled many of us out of our wits…


About Nora Soriño

Nora Soriño

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