Remembering The 1990 Killer Quake That Hit Baguio City

The Killer Earthquake of 1990

It was around 4:20pm on July 16, 1990 when I, among thousands of residents and visitors in Baguio City felt what is known to be the Killer Quake in Baguio City. I was 11 years old then and it was truly a scary experience to feel the earth move violently. Not knowing what to do, me and my brother stayed outside of the room that our family is renting. Far across from our home is part of Hillside Barangay and i have seen a house collapse as the soil eroded down the cliff taking with it the house’s contents. What followed when the earth finally stood still was more than a month’s ordeal for all residents of Baguio City.

The Devastation Left By The 1990 Killer Quake.
Photo used With Permission From The Art Tibaldo Newseum FB Page


Many evacuated to safer grounds, most of us went to the nearest school ground when no tall structures could suddenly collapse. At that time what I can only fathom was the damage done by the quake to our community, we lived back then at Camp 8 and the road going to and from the city is blocked by a huge landslide, when we finally got the courage and the chance to walk around a few days after the devastating quake I realized that it actually changed the landscape of our community some parts were unrecognizable. Many residents including ourselves were very afraid to return to our home for fear that another tremor would strike as we are inside our home, thus we had to sleep on the school grounds. We didn’t have any tents nor any sleeping bags so we had to sleep on the benches, for many nights I slept on a sitting position until our family decided to stay with our relatives in QM when we arrived at that place the scene was no different, people were afraid to go back to their homes instead, residents built makeshift tents along the roads, at least we were able to sleep lying down.

Evacuation to Safer Grounds, This one is at the Rose Garden Burnham Park. Photo Taken with Permission From The Art Tibaldo Newseum Facebook Page

Aftermath of the Killer Earthquake

After a few more days I got the opportunity to go to the central business district area which took the most damage as hotels, restaurants and other buildings collapsed and all I can say is that it really changed the landscape of Baguio City.

Eroded Mountain Side: Photo Taken With Permission From The Art Tibaldo Newseum Facebook Page

It was a traumatic scene for me, I was 11 years old back then, where you see dead bodies wrapped in cloth on the side of the streets. Truly Baguio City was hit and it was hit hard by the earthquake, as days passed we heard the news on the heavy damage to the City, for three days Baguio was isolated from the rest of the Philippines, relief goods were airlifted and dropped wherever people converge. Power and water supplies were also heavily damaged that it took months before operations became normal.

Melvin Jones Tent City; Photo Taken with Permission from Art Tibaldo Newseum Facebook Page

On A Positive Note

Time To Smile: Photo Taken with Permission From The Art Tibaldo Newseum Facebook Page

A devastating situation could bring out the worst and the best in a person, during, and after the earthquake it seems that the best character in a person came out. During the earthquake, our parents were at work so it was our neighbors who took care of us and kept us from harm’s way until our parents arrived. After the quake at the evacuation center store owners gave out whatever food they have to everybody. We also heard stories of heroism of people who volunteered to join the rescue team in order to help those who were trapped under the rubble. It may be the nature of every Filipino to step up and help in any way they can, we have seen these on countless of instances already which proves that united, we will be able to overcome anything.

In Conclusion

Today, we commemorate the anniversary of the earthquake, but we do not remember the devastation nor the horror that it left in the hearts of those who experienced it first hand, but rather we commemorate the heroism of everyone as every little action to help contribute to the recovery of the people who experienced it and the City as a whole. Today, let us all work towards using our knowledge, talents, skills, and technology to mitigate if not avert these kinds of disasters.


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