LOST in the Philippines
The first 10 years of my life didn’t have a hint of normal to it. Normal in regards to the climates I was living in. I went from England, to the Philippines, to Upper Michigan. Not to mention the random places in between like Scotland, Japan, and Alaska. But in my youthful eyes, all of this was normal. Except for one unsteady afternoon in the Philippines.
As a kid, living on the island of Luzon was amazing. I have so many odd memories; getting a rash on my face everytime I ate a mango, the time a mob of fire ants attacked me, riding trike taxis through the markets. No matter the month, it was always hot outside. At the time I was very much into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and there were storm drains everywhere to bring my cartoon fantasies to real life. However, I don’t remember eating very much pizza.
A Filipino woman named Susan lived with us as our maid. To be honest, I thought she was just part of the family the whole time. I didn’t question whether my dad was a polygamist, or if adults could be adopted, or if she was just our Filipino ambassador. After all, the Filipinos were the Others. I think she spoke little to zero English, so how she lived with us is beyond me. Our favorite activity together was eating chicken and rice while watching the television show CHiPs. When we weren’t doing that, my brother and I did everything to try and torment her.
One day my brother and I were playing around in the bedroom when he got the bright idea to lock Susan out of the room by sliding the sofa against the door. When she couldn’t open the door, we couldn’t understand a single Filipino word she was yelling but most likely it wasn’t, “CHICKEN! RICE! CHiPs!” We snuck out the window and ran up the street.
We could see Susan jumping and waving her arms for us to come back as we were getting dangerously close to going outside our ‘stay on this street’ boundary. As we were coming back towards her, something my amygdala wasn’t even prepared to understand happened. A earthquake with the magnitude of 7.7 struck without warning.
I’ve sat here for nearly 20 minutes thinking of how I could possibly describe what I saw. It’s impossible. The loud rumble, the way the ground was shaking back and forth, it was unreal. The shaky cam technique used in films such as Cloverfield and Black Hawk Down is how my memory recalls those images. Clearly Desmond forgot to enter 4 8 15 16 23 42.
We sat out in the middle of the street throughout the night as the ground continued to periodically rumble. I fell asleep in my mom’s arms. My dad’s fleet was preparing for a city wide evacuation. Predictions of the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo would be proven a certainty in a short amount of time.
It’s hilarious to hear my parents talk about our arrival at LAX. They say it was like we went through a time-warp. People were moving fast in the airport while talking on Zack Morris cell phones, taxis were flying by, and there we were, just standing still in awe. We haven’t lived in the states in nearly 7 years and we just came from a island that has actual villages. This modernization was a huge culture shock. Most likely, Faraday had something to do with this.
We later found out that Susan and her family were safely evacuated. As for us, we were now living in our new Upper Michigan home piled under 5 feet of lake-effect snow. I suppose that’s a chapter for another time.
Mount Pinatubo http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Pinatubo