You don’t get to know someone unless you both have to walk out of a building that may or may not collapse. On September 19th, 2017, the colleagues with whom we have shared laughter, memes, and stress became our source of support and strength. Do you remember the girl who, though you couldn’t recall her name, hugged and cried with you? What about the guy from the second floor who lent you his bike so you could make it home faster? On the other side of the screen, two hundred people bring Cultura Colectiva to life every single day. Two hundred people put mind and soul into every piece of information we publish. That day of September, within a three story building right at the heart of Roma, our eyes and hearts witnessed how, one of the nicest neighborhoods in Mexico City, became one of the most affected areas after the earthquake. That Tuesday, by midday, we commemorated the anniversary of 1985’s earthquake with a drill. We had taken for granted our history with earthquakes and we thought we would be ready if one of these happened. But we weren’t; nothing could prepare us for the violent shake that came without warning.
The Earth Screamed
Mexicans are used to vibrations. In our building, we feel them every time a big truck drives past. However, that Tuesday afternoon, these vibrations were different, more intense. “It’s an earthquake!”, someone yelled, confirming what everyone else feared. We rushed, but by the time we made it to the stairs, the whole building was shaking with too much strength that made standing upright impossible. We knew there was no other thing to do but to resist along with the building. We went down on the floor and held on to our desks wondering if we had really grabbed the concept of the “triangle of life”. The lamps broke, glass fell all over us, we held our hands while we weeped or prayed as we were reminded of our own fragility.
The experience wasn’t better on the first and second floors. Those who were lucky enough to leave the building saw with helplessness how the place where they have spent long hours with their colleagues seemed so weak against the force of nature. When the earthquake stopped, we started to exit the building. Then, the news of the damages arrived. As we saw how every person in the building was safe and sound, we felt so relieved and recovered our strength. We knew we were safe, we had been lucky enough and now it was our duty to go ahead and help those who hadn’t. Looking at the building, we all faced uncertainty: What now? What would happen after the earth had screamed?
The Voice Of Silence
After the catastrophe, we at Cultura Colectiva, like many other people, went into the streets and used all the resources we had at hand. We were eager to help in any possible way. We organized our team; some of us went to the most affected areas, while others stayed in front of the computer for days in order to bring verified information to people. Every day that passed made us ask ourselves if we would ever go back to normal. Soon, we accepted that that was not an option anymore; normal as we knew it was over. Thousands of people would never see their loved ones again; many would never come back to place they called home, to their memories. As for the rest of us, we will never forget the face of Mexico after the earthquake. Eventually, we came back to the office. However, a part of us never left the streets. We kept on recording, feeling and listening to the stories of those who were affected by the earthquake. That’s how we created, The Voice Of Silence, a project that became a turning point for Cultura Colectiva.
Cultura Colectiva’s First Film
Inspired by the strength and solidarity that Mexicans showed after the earthquake, Cultura Colectiva decided to produce its first long feature film called The Voice of Silence. This documentary, which premieres on NatGeo, celebrates the resilience of the Mexican people. Jorge Uruchurtu, director, musician and composer, captures the scars of the aftermath and its effects in the present and future of Mexico City’s society.
The complex experience of September 19th is told through the inspiring and defying testimonies of Sergio Beltrán (author of Verificado19S), Rod Heredia and Ismael Villegas (rescuers), Daniel Moreno (editor-in-chief of news website Animal Político), and Olivia Domínguez (anthropologist, affected by the earthquake). The Voice of Silence is our way to place the country in front of a mirror, so we could see our reflection, so it refreshes our collective memory and honors the Mexico we met after the tremor.
The Voice of Silence will premiere on September 30th in Mexico, Colombia and Argentina on NatGeo, and on and October 2nd in Chile and Peru.
Don’t Miss These:
7 Things You Don’t Realize Until Your First Earthquake
“We Are Under The Rubble”: Rod, From Accountant To Brigade Member
12 Powerful Images From The Moments After An Earthquake Shook Mexico City
The Voices of An Earthquake: Alma, The Survivor Who Made It Out Of The Rubble