Earth-quake Day; Thank you Mr. Laus, 1951 – 2019

April 22, 2019 will definitely be remembered. Not only was it Earth Day, but at 11 minutes past 5 in the afternoon, the earth shook violently with a Magnitude 6.3 earthquake for a couple of seconds, waking people in their sleep, causing panic among thousands or even millions of people in the affected areas, and even sending patients running outside of hospitals.

The cancellation of work caused an influx of vehicles, resulting in traffic jams that affected the riding public as people rushed to get home and check on their families to insure they were safe following the earth-shaking episode.

Many structures were affected by the violent temblor that they required a quick check to ensure structural integrity. And one of the structures that was damaged was the Clark International Airport (CRK).

The ceiling above the check-in counters of the terminal collapsed, forcing a suspension of operations two hours later as power was out and check-in operations were severely affected, subsequently affecting flights.

However, since the Clark airport is a service-oriented industry, Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) and transportation department officials decided to have it operational as soon as possible.

It was a good thing that the earthquake happened at a time when there are ongoing construction activities around the Clark aviation complex: the construction of Terminal 2 being undertaken by GMR Megawide, and the horizontal projects, the construction of taxiways and ramps by RII Builders, a construction company of Kapampangan Reghis Romero II.

The two companies were tapped to assist in the clearing and repair of the terminal. And help they did. At no cost to the government.

The engineers and engineering staff of the two construction companies with assistance from the engineering departments of CIAC, the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), toiled for a day and a half that in just 45 hours, the airport was reopened for passengers that had been waiting for their flights earlier.

Temporary measures were implemented to ensure that the airport became operational for the passengers that booked their flights via the Clark airport.

Monday’s 6.3 magnitude earthquake may be a wake-up call by Mother Earth herself as it was her day, Earth Day, but not too many people seemed to care or remembered. So she jolted them from their trance-like routine and moved them to act.

This last full week of April will also be remembered as the initial shock caused by the Monday, April 22 seismic event has brought the term “earthquake” back in the people’s consciousness around the Philippines.

This is because, although the worst might seem over for Pampanga and the Clark International Airport, earthquakes have hogged much of the news for the days following Monday’s shaker.

Tuesday saw an earthquake occurring in Eastern Samar which was even more powerful than the April 22 Luzon earthquake at a Magnitude 6.4; Wednesday saw twin earthquakes in the province of Davao: the first was a Magnitude 4.5 quake in Sarangani, Davao Occidental, and 15 minutes later, a stronger Magnitude 4.7 temblor struck Baganga, Davao Oriental.

Earthquakes were also separately monitored around the country on Thursday, April 25: a Magnitude 4.4 quake in Ilocos Norte and another Magnitude 4.7 tectonic event again in Mindanao.

And, this just in as of this writing: a Magnitude 4.4 earthquake was recorded in Letye province in the Visayas.

Whatever happens in the next few days or years, let us just hope, and pray, that the worst is over.

“What a way to celebrate Earth Day,” one might quip. It was REALLY an Earth-shaking affair!

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Aside from the earthquake that rocked Pampanga on Monday, another bit of equally shaking news is the passing of businessman Levy Laus after his helicopter crashed in a fishpond in Anilao, Malolos, Bulacan province Thursday afternoon.

Laus and two of his companions died from multiple injuries sustained in the crash. The wreckage of the chopper has been recovered for investigation by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to determine the cause of the accident.

I will remember Mr. Laus as a person that came at a most opportune time as he took me in as an editor in Pampanga News, a newspaper he acquired. We had the opportunity to work together, again, when I contributed photographs to the Pinatubo book he published.

Aside from being a businessman, Mr. Laus also became president and CEO of the Clark Development Corporation (CDC), a member of the Board of Directors of BCDA, and later an advocate of countryside development and a staunch supporter of the Clark International Airport.

Our sincere condolences to the Laus family for the loss of a father, grandfather, and husband; the Laus Group of Companies for the loss of their patriarch; and to Pampanga for the loss of a distinguished citizen and civic leader.

And thank you, Mr. Laus for the opportunity to work with you. May your soul rest in peace.

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