Alvarez, Kerby Clado. 2023. “A Cultural Minority’s Disaster Survival Experience: The August 1968 Luzon Earthquake, the Ruby Tower Tragedy, and the Chinese in Manila.” China and Asia: A Journal of Historical Studies 4(2) [Special Issue: Chinese in Philippine History]: 286-323.
This paper narrates a history of the August 2, 1968 Luzon earthquake that severely hit the capital city of Manila in the Philippines. The central site of this earthquake disaster was the collapse of a premiere, high-rise residential building in downtown Manila, the Ruby Tower Apartments. This tragedy reflects the projection of nationalism in terms of collective disaster response, and the Philippines’ complicated dealings with a specific segment of the population. The Ruby Tower tragedy was an emblematic representation of the country’s disaster response capacities and Filipino society’s perception and treatment of the Chinese and Filipino Chinese residents in Manila. Using newspapers, magazine articles, and scientific reports about the earthquake, this study aims to present a microhistory of a cultural minority in Manila, specifically on how the sordid story of earthquake disaster survival projects a poignant picture of ethnic dynamics and disaster politics in the country in the 1960s.
Keywords: August 2 – 1968 – earthquake – Ruby Tower Apartments – Chinese in Manila – disaster response – disaster memory