Judge Geraldine Econg of Regional Trial Court branch 9 was presiding over a hearing about noon yesterday when her table shook.
She grabbed her laptop, stood up and calmly walked away from her table.
?I did not panic. I just wanted to get hold of my (security) blanket which is my laptop. Whatever happens, I will feel secured if I have my laptop because the court can still function. All my cases are in my laptop,? she said.
Although Econg did not run out of her courtroom, some judges, government employees and students rushed out of their offices and school buildings when an intensity four earthquake shook parts of Cebu at 12:12 p.m.
The earthquake also rocked some parts of Bohol and some parts of Northern Mindanao.
The epicenter was traced five kilometers northwest of Anda town, Bohol, which were recorded at intensity five in the Richter scale, said Robinson Jorjio, regional seismic observer of the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
The Intensity five earthquake was also felt in Ubay and Jagna towns, also in Bohol, as well as Hibok-hibok, Camiguin province.
?It was a tectonic earthquake that we experienced in the Visayas and in some parts of Mindanao. The epicenter is located in Anda within the Guindulman Bay. It's called tectonic because it is the movement of the fault system. Intensity four is considered a strong earthquake while intensity five is moderately strong,? said Jorjio.
The earthquake was also felt in Tagbilaran City (intensity 4); in Lapu-Lapu City, Cagayan de Oro City in Misamis Oriental and Maasin City in Southern Leyte (intensity 3); Butuan City in Agusan del Norte, Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte, Surigao City in Surigao del Norte and Manukan town in Zamboanga del Norte(intensity 2); and in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental and Masbate (intensity 1).
Some employees at the Legislative Building, Marcelo Fernan Hall of Justice and Capitol building ran out of their offices when the buildings shook for about eight seconds.
?We were in our offices and taking our lunch break when we felt the building shook and we started to realize there was an earthquake. We just went out of the office and started going down without causing panic to other colleagues who were also getting out of their salas,? a court employee said.
Judge Eric Menchaves of branch 21 and Judge Soliver Peras said they advised their staffers to go out of the courtrooms and go down calmly to the lobby until they would receive instructions that it was safe to go back.
Peras said the staffers were calm although some were frightened.
Despite some cracks on the second, third and fourth floor of the Marcelo Fernan Hall of Justice, the building could still withstand strong earthquakes, said building administrator, Engr. Isagani Saranillo.
Saranillo said the Palace of Justice was built in 1998 and a seismic analysis was made before the structural design of the building was approved.
In Mandaue, the city officials put on standby the agencies that handled cases of emergency following the earthquake yesterday. These were the engineering, general services, fire, police, and the Accident Control and Emergency Rescue Team.
Like in Cebu City, some people transacting business at the Mandaue City Hall ran out of the building. But there were others who opted to stay inside indoors.
Among them was Sangguniang Panlungsod secretary Frelyn Mabanag and her staff who decided to stay in their offices because it was just a mild quake.
But Mandaue Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna said the engineering department was also directed to check the various structures and buildings in Mandaue following reports that some students rushed out of the buildings during the quake. Such was the picture at the Abellana National School along Osmeña Boulevard in Cebu City, apparently forgetting the earthquake drill schools conduct every quarter.
Neil Sanchez, Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) information officer, said they noticed that the ANS students immediately ran outside the school when they felt the earthquake. The school is located near the OCD office.
Sanchez said he could not blame the students because the tendency was to forget the drill during the actual event..
?But the incident should serve us a lesson,? he said. /Correspondents Jolene Bulambot and Jhunnex Napallacan and Reporter Dale Israel