That 7.2 Magnitude Bohol Earthquake

Bohol is generally a quiet province with very little incidents of natural disasters. But in the morning (8:12) of October 15, 2013, the province was roused with a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. It was so intense that the neighboring provinces in the Visayas felt it too, with a lower casualty rate in nearby Cebu.

It was the first in the province after so many years. The last major earthquake in Bohol was February 8, 1990 when at 3:15 pm, a 6.8 magnitude quake caused the general public to panic. That earthquake was strongly felt in the municipalities of Garcia Hernandez, Jagna, Guindulman, Duero, and Valencia.

The epicenter of the 2013 earthquake was initially thought to be the East Bohol fault (southeast of Carmen, Bohol). However, after innumerable aftershocks and following its pattern, volcanologists began to consider another theory that there is another fault in Bohol that has yet to be discovered. And they found it indeed. They called it the North Bohol fault in the town of Inabanga.

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Chocolate Hills leaning tower of Bohol after the earthquake

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Chocolate Hills leaning tower of Bohol 10 days before the earthquake
Photo Credit: by Dan Brian G. Gerona

For the last 23 years, the 2013 earthquake that shook Bohol was said to be the deadliest in Philippine history, for its energy was believed to equal 32 (thirty-two) Hiroshima bombs. It was felt all throughout the Visayas region and through the island of Masbate, a province in Mindanao.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council or NDRRMC, 8 persons were missing, 976 were injured, 222 people died and about 73,000 structures/formations were damaged including centuries-old stone churches. Heavily damaged churches include the façade and bell tower of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Baclayon, as well as some parts of the churches in the towns of Tubigon, Dimiao, Loay and Dauis. Sadly, there were few that totally collapsed, namely: Our Lady of Light Church (Loon), Santa Cruz Parish Church (Maribojoc), and San Pedro Apostol Church (Loboc). These were just among the damages. Apparently, there were more from the other towns and the city itself.

Few months after the earthquake, Bohol continued to be shaken by aftershocks. 4,026 aftershocks were noted by December 6, 2013 but only 114 were felt. Among these, a magnitude 5.3 was recorded on October 26 (12:59 am), and a magnitude 4.8 on November 12 (1:28 pm) at the town of San Isidro.

On the incident of the earthquake, residents from coastal areas were momentarily scared of a coming tsunami. This was triggered when residents living by the seaside region witnessed the water ebbed back from the shoreline. Fortunately, it turned out there was no tsunami alert.

In spite of the disaster, many were still thankful it happened on a public holiday, in observance with Eid-al-Adha (Muslim holiday), for it helped a lot that schools and some businesses were closed as it reduced the total number of casualties. Damages such as bridges, flood control, roads and buildings were estimated to be worth Php 2.25 billion, in Cebu and Bohol. Moreover, 3.2 million individuals or 671,103 families were greatly affected by the earthquake. And from this, 71,822 families were displaced.

A Personal Anecdote

I visited the affected areas a few weeks after the earthquake and was shocked by the destruction and affects to whole communities.

I could not bring myself to take photos as the even then the emotion was raw and it felt like an intrusion.

I spoke to friends and family to hear of people being knocked off their feet, running out of houses and windows were popping from their frames.

In typical Boholano style, the more humorous stories are now being shared, it is this resilience and strength of the Boholanos that makes this girl proud to be a Boholana.