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How Baguio quake victim survived 15-day ordeal under rubble

First posted 02:11:25 (Mla time) December 10, 2004
Gobleth Moulic
Inquirer News Service

When baker Pedrito Dy yesterday learned that miners had pulled four survivors from the rubble of a building that had collapsed in mudslides 11 days ago, he prayed that more victims buried in the resort in Real, Quezon, would make it out alive.

Dy, 40, survived the killer earthquake that struck Baguio City in July 1990. He was rescued after spending more than two weeks under the rubble of the collapsed Hyatt Terraces Hotel here.

For 15 days, Dy ate nothing and drank his own urine to survive until a hand held his head and pulled him out of the ruins.

He said he was hoping that the victims would hold on. "They should pray hard because God will make a way to save them," he told the Inquirer at the Swiss Baker here where he has been working for the past 11 years.

Dy, a cook at Hyatt when the 7.9-intensity earthquake struck on July 16, 1990, knows what he is talking about.

Droplets of water

During his own ordeal, Dy said he lay motionless under the rubble, enduring the stench of decomposing bodies of hotel guests and co-employees around him. Among the unfortunate ones were five of his friends who had been pinned to death.

"It was mental and emotional torture to see them dead. I could not remember the names of my fellow workers," he said.

It was raining during the search and rescue operation at the five-star hotel. Drops of water that dripped down the rubble saved Dy. He tore some pieces of foam scattered around, dipped them in the water and sucked on them.

"I was hungry, thirsty and scared. Throughout the ordeal, I relied solely on divine intervention. I did not give up on prayer. I begged God to keep me out from the dark to see my family again," he said. His eldest son, Peter Art, was two years old at the time.

As the days passed and hope was getting dim, he banged his head on a cement post in an effort to end his life. He felt numb and was very weak.

Answered prayers

When he was about to give up, a hand touched his head at around 3 a.m. on July 31, 1990 and slowly pulled him out.

He knew then that his prayers had been answered.

Dy was taken to the Baguio General Hospital but was later transferred to the Makati Medical Center where he was confined for nine days.

Every July 16, Dy would tell his story to his eldest son and show him pictures of the hotel before and after the earthquake.

"How did you survive, Papa?" his son would ask him.

"It was a miracle. God saved me," Dy would tell his son.

Biggest test

The 1990 earthquake was the biggest test of the Cordilleran miners, Baluda recalled.

Benguet Corp. miners were the first to enter the devastated Baguio City, zeroing in on the collapsed Hotel Nevada that used to stand outside the former Camp John Hay main gate.

"Philex was only able to send our team a week after July 16, 1990, because we had to rebuild the road leading to Baguio. Our miners hiked for hours to the Hyatt. It was a fly that led one of our miners to (Dy)," Baluda said.

Since the successful Dy rescue, Benguet miners have been dispatched to countless disaster sites.

"Philex miners were also asked to fly to Taiwan during an earthquake, but the rescue effort was canceled," Baluda said.

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