UB’s Chief Security Officer


This week, we honor the volunteers who demonstrated self-sacrifice and manifested the spirit of service, the first responders who were on the front lines in the relief and rescue efforts during the July 1990 7.7-magnitude Luzon earthquake. Sir Lardy was an ROTC cadet then at UB. In the first 48 hours, he and his co-cadets helped locate and transport bodies from the rubble of the earthquake. Here, 28 years after, he looks back on that day.


“It was past 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I was in a class. It started with a slow, long shake. And then it came faster, one shake after the other. I looked around. The whole building was shaking. I found my way out of the building and exited the perimeter. But then I had to go back and report to my commanding officer. As a member of the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps), you have to extend all the services you can in moments like those.”  


“So I went back, and on my way back, I ran into people; they were in panic. They were running around. Some were frantic, sobbing. Others were praying. You can see buildings going down. Power lines were downed. Cars were pulled over everywhere, filling and blocking the streets. It was like a warzone.”



“With flashlights, we worked into the night, and we had to find as many bodies as we can. With us were miners, who were among the first rescuers to arrive. We had no proper gear and equipment, but we knew we just had to go in and help.” 




“On the second day (that was when the photo was taken), along with the teams sent by the Philippine government and foreign agencies, we continued with the search. The rescue operations ran for a week. It was after then that we were able to go home to our families, to tell them that we were okay and that we were alive.”




“You can say that the damage was really overwhelming. In the first two days, Baguio was isolated from the rest of the country. Major roads cuts blocked access to the city, limiting entry modes to only helicopters and choppers. The city was among the areas hardest hit by the earthquake. You look around and you’ll feel everything in all its dimness and desolation.” 



“But it was in that very moment that the sight of everyone rallying around – pitching in to help – emerged, and it was just profound.”




“Slowly, Baguio has rebuilt. With the community coming together and the people exhibiting resilience, we have come a long way.”




The earthquake was a result of a tectonic movement along the Philippine Fault System. Baguio – and the rest of the Cordillera region – is located along the Fault System. That means we have to be equipped with the basic knowledge on how to respond to an earthquake. Can you give us a quick orientation on the basics of handling an earthquake situation?

“Don’t panic. That’s rule number one. Two, if you’re in a building, drop down to the floor; take cover under a sturdy desk, table or a piece of furniture and protect your head and neck with your arms (hold on to the furniture and be prepared to move with it); and hold the position until the ground stops shaking and it is safe to move.”




“If you are not near a desk or table, move against an interior wall, and protect your head with your arms. Do not use the elevators. If you are outdoors, move to a clear area – away from buildings or downed electrical wires and poles."




"If you’re driving, pull over and stay inside the vehicle until the shaking is over; avoid overpasses, power lines, and other hazards. If you’re in a crowded store or other public place, do not rush for exits – move away from display shelves containing objects that could fall.”




“It is equally important to participate in drills and to take the drills seriously. Knowing what to do can save your life – and others’ too. Awareness is everything.”








Editor’s Note: Sir Lardy, along with other student volunteers, was presented a Certificate of Valor in a ceremony honoring the earthquake volunteers' selfless act, held a year after the earthquake. 






The Certificate was handed together with the photo, shown below, digitized herein from the original printout.





Baguio City, July 17, 1990, Day 2 of the retrieval operations

Cadet Lardizabal Lupadit (in white shorts) and University of Baguio student assistants transport a body retrieved from the rubbles.


Estimates reflect that the 7.7-magnitude earthquake caused damage within an area of about 20,000 square kilometers, stretching from the mountains of the Cordillera Administrative Region through the Central Luzon region. Based on the Mercalli scale of intensity, the earthquake’s intensity was categorized as “violent,” producing a 125-kilometer long ground rupture that stretched from Dingalan, Aurora to Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija. An estimated 1,600 people were killed, most of them in the Cordillera region and in Central Luzon. 


Photo courtesy of Lardizabal Lupadit








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