It was a relaxing Saturday. Usually, I spend it with my family in the mall the whole day. But last Saturday turned out to be so different. It was our first time to decide to head out to the mall late in the afternoon and stay until dinner. SM Megamall has always been a weekend stop. Every weekend, we're there. Night of January 26, as always, Sm Megamall was full. Mostly, are families.
After visiting a furniture shop, my husband said that he needs to withdraw money. We were in Bldg. A at that time. So I suggested the ATMs at the 2nd and ground floor of Bldg. A. But since we need to check on some things at bldg. B, guitar shops, toy shops and a quick look at Ace Hardware, we decided to cross the basement bridge going to BDO bldg. B. While in line at the atm, my son Frankie suddenly asked if we could have barbecue for dinner. Right in front of BDO was Bar-B-King. So my husband said, "okay look for a table and order".
Before I continue, I mentioned all these stores and point of locations to bring a lighter view on our whereabouts when the shooting happened.
Our table was located near the entrance of the restaurant. There, we were enjoying our food, laughing, we were really having fun as a family. As I was finishing my food, my husband told me that he wanted to order another round of barbecue. I said, yeah, "go, join me, I still have a bunch to finish". "Usually, we don't go for second rounds". He ordered a barbecue meal and while waiting, I got Mikee from the high chair took him for a little walk around the restaurant. Then we heard a commotion. At first, we saw "few" were running away from "something". Then, I heard 2 gun shots, that's when the rush of people panicking "swarmed" the basement floor headed for bldg. A, it was chaos!
The restaurant manager of Bar-B-King immediately locked the metal door of the resto and ordered everyone inside to stay down on the floor. Slowly, one by one, we all crawled towards the back part of the restaurant. In my mind, I was thinking... "okay, we're trapped!". At least the people outside can proceed to the other building and scatter out the exits, but us, we have no other place to go, and we don't even know what was happening, what was causing the hysteria.
You know what's unbelievable that went through our minds--- zombie apocalypse. If you have seen "the swarm" of people running with their terrified faces...(lahat na iisipin mo).
It took about 15 minutes when we saw people out again. It feels like there was a sudden pause. Then, another commotion. Everyone went inside the shops and we saw SM guards running away from the scene. With that--- " all I thought was, "okay that's it!" "what now dear Lord". We were all at the back of the restaurant again when the manager shouted that "someone was trying to open our metal door" that "someone was forcing them to open it". All the men, the staff and crew of the restaurant went in front to hold the door down and to secure it even more. At the time when someone was trying to open the metal door of our restaurant, I looked at my 2 kids and prayed to spare them if something was about to happen to us.
It took another 30- 45 minutes before it was cleared. We saw security everywhere and the people started to come out from their hiding place. Immediately, we rushed to bldg. A where our car was parked. The basement that was once filled with families and happy faces was empty. Stores are closed. We saw people lying on the floor of their shops crying (mostly women). I came across a lady who was hysterical looking for somebody and a kid who was with a guard whom I assume has lost touch with his parents or companion.
I've always felt safe in SM Megamall. It's one of our favorite places to go to and hangout as a family. I've heard of previous reports of shootings in other SM Malls, but I was still sure that nothing similar will happen in Megamall, until last Saturday's robbery happened. Maybe it will take some time before I can get over this.
On the news, we found out that the gunmen robbed the jewelry shop inside the department store. It was just on top of us. It's the part that's very near an escalator that connects the ground floor and the basement, it's where our restaurant's at that's why everything was very clear. The chances of those armed men scrambling down to take the exit near our restaurant was big.
If you noticed, I've highlighted some sentences. Those are the important things that led us to where were at during the shooting/ robbery incident. Tiny decisions it may seem, but it made a big impact both good and bad. Please read on to the next post entitled:A Traumatizing Evening in SM Megamall--- Part2