Angelica Panganiban speaks with ABS-CBN News after the earthquake in Bohol.
'Banana Split' stars recall mass panic
MANILA -- "Nagkakatulakan na, nakikita mo umiiyak na lahat ng mga tao hanggang, wala, takbo lang kami nang takbo. Bahala na talaga."
These were the words of Angelica Panganiban in recalling the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that devastated parts of Visayas on Tuesday morning, leaving at least 77 people dead in Bohol alone.
The actress, along with her "Banana Split" co-stars, were in the province to shoot a special anniversary episode of the ABS-CBN gag show.
At around 7 a.m., the program's cast and crew had breakfast at a hotel near the coastline. Panganiban recalled feeling sleepy from the previous night's taping, saying she couldn't wait to be shuttled back to a nearby hotel where they had accommodations.
"Pagsakay na pagsakay namin sa bus, noong medyo puno na 'yung bus, akala namin may umaalog nung bus. So nagtayuan kami," she told ABS-CBN News' Ron Gagalac on Tuesday afternoon.
"Pagtayo ko, nakita ko nakakalas na 'yung gilid nung building," she said, referring to the hotel they had just come from.
Actress Alex Gonzaga, who was in the same bus, recalled the image of the crumbling structure in a separate interview: "Nagbabagsakan na lahat ng mga walls, kisame, mga lights, so nag-se-shake na talaga."
This was the same moment captured in video by actor Jayson Gainza, who is also one of the mainstays on "Banana Split." The clip, which was aired on ANC, shows his companions scrambling to exit the bus, as a nearby building's facade appeared to collapse from the quake.
"Right after, puro ash nalang siya," Gonzaga said. "Makikita mo, parang sa pelikula. Tapos may biglang sumigaw na 'yung dagat daw nag-disappear."
"Paglabas namin [ng bus], nagsigawan naman 'yung mga nasa tubig," Panganiban said. "Umatras daw 'yung tubig, so nagtakbuhan kami papunta ng city hall."
The TV co-stars were referring to fears of a tsunami reaching where they stood. Alarmed by approaching screams from the coastline, Panganiban and her companions raced to find higher ground. The actress recalled this to be the "scariest" moment of the ordeal.
"Noong nagtatakbuhan na 'yung mga tao, kasi wala na talaga, nagkakatulakan na, nakikita mo umiiyak na lahat ng mga tao hanggang, wala, takbo lang kami nang takbo, bahala na talaga," she said.
"Lahat ng nasa beach, nagtakbuhan, so nag-stampede na," Gonzaga said.
News of PHIVOLCS assuring the public there would be no tsunami in quake-hit areas had yet to reach them.
Comedian Pooh, in a separate interview, said they traveled some 3 kilometers on foot before finally reaching the Tagbilaran City Hall.
Actor Cesar Montano, who was in Manila at the time, received news of his colleagues in Bohol running short on food and water. Speaking with ABS-CBN News' Mario Dumaual, the actor said one of the "Banana Split" producers told him of their dire situation there, prompting him to send help through his business based in the province.
On Instagram, Panganiban shared a photo of a meal served on a styrofoam container, captioned, "Maraming salamat sa may mabuting puso na nagpakain sa'min. Mabuhay kayong may mabubuting kalooban."
'Grace of God'
The facade of the Tagbilaran City Hall after the earthquake. Photo from Angelica Panganiban's Instagram page
Just minutes earlier, the actress posted a photo of the Tagbilaran City Hall, whose facade appeared to be destroyed due to the quake. In the accompanying caption, she said: "Hindi na matanggal sa isip namin ang nagyari ngayong umaga... Ngayon alam ko na ang pakriamdam kapag akala mo magpapaalam ka na sa mundo."
At the city hall, Panganiban recalled feeling relieved upon seeing her "Banana Split" co-workers, who were scattered during the panic of fleeing from the coastline.
"Nagkita-kita kami, nagkaiyakan kami," Panganiban told ABS-CBN News. "Mahirap kasi malayo kami sa mga pamilya namin eh, kaya nung nakakita na kami ng familiar faces, parang medyo um-okay na kami ulit."
Later that afternoon, Panganiban and a number of her colleagues boarded a chopper to Cebu. In another post on Instagram, the actress said the "Banana Split" cast and crew were being flown back to Manila, with actors Ryan Bang and John Prats managing to arrive home earlier.
"Siguro talagang we were saved by the grace of God," Gonzaga said. "Iniisip namin kasi kunwari nangyari 'yun (earthquake) habang kumakain kami, habang nasa loob kami, sobrang wala kaming idea. Buti nalang talaga nando'n kami sa loob ng bus, papalabas na lahat, everyone's leaving na."
"Right after, tinawagan ko agad mommy ko kasi gusto ko mag-pa-pray, gusto kong ipaalam sa kanila, kasi whatever happens... Talagang praise the Lord we're safe, wala namang nasaktan sa amin," she said.