07 October, 2009

My Own Typhoon Experience

On Sept. 28, 2006, typhoon Milenyo hit the country (with Metro Manila as the center of its fury) and if we were to make a list of the hardest hit, you may just find my name in the list. The Milenyo trauma was what made me stay in the condo (my boss’ condo unit in Roxas Blvd.) the night before Saturday’s deluge and be vigilant. There was this sixth sense that told me I was safer there.

At around three in the morning the rain started to pour extra hard and soon water came dripping down from the ceiling of my comfort room. Not wanting to wake up the others, especially not my cranky help, I took care of the mess by taking out all the undergarments in the closet. I also got a decorative mug to catch the water dripping from the ceiling. To my surprise, water reached the brim of that clay piece in five minutes. The volume of water this typhoon brought with it was truly heavy. Before I went to bed, I replaced the mug with the biggest plastic container I could find (I have pails in that condo). I kept waking up every hour to discard the water it had collected and had to mop the floor. At around 8 a.m. I just passed out from exhaustion.

At 1 p.m. I woke up to the text of my friend Tere (she’s our nanay in Negros Navigation) telling me to leave the condo early if I didn’t want to get caught in that traffic jam caused by the flooding.

My priority was to get to our house in Bulacan, but anywhere I went there were roads that had water that was waist-deep. I didn’t panic because having worked in this city, I have been so used to floods. I had the driver with me that time (My boss told him to drop me off the nearest terminal going to Bulacan) and when faced with another waist-deep flood in a low section in Quiapo, I told him what I always do when faced with this situation: Go on full gear, step on the gas and without blinking just keep driving — fast! As soon as we’ve crossed over, I asked him to keep pumping the brakes to discharge whatever water had seeped into the vehicle. That had always worked for me, but I am not exactly saying it is a hundred percent foolproof.

When I got to Bulacan, I was surprised by the waist deep flood going to my house. Transport vehicles apparently had no way to get there. In fact, some vehicles was forced to go back. So I decided to let the floods go down til the wee hours of the morning, just to get at my house.

Good I wasn’t working in Manila when “Ondoy” hit on Sept 26, 2009. Luckily, I am able to find work near my family and not worry about things like these might get in my way.

I have to admit that when I am at the comfort of my office, I hadn’t realized yet the gravity of the situation — until I started to text my friend from Marikina that the floods were heavy and there were pleas for help, that were families close to getting drowned. I figured that if this was happening to middle class who live in concrete houses, then the people in the slums must have already been swept away by floodwaters by then. But as it turned out, it was the professionals who were suffering the most at that point — the middle class. They are the taxpayers who cannot even cheat on their income tax forms and have to declare everything. They are the ones who help prop up funds for the government in order to be able to deliver basic services to this country. Where are the funds? What happen to the infrastructure development that the government vehemently boast?
But they are also the people who need their comfort zone and they are the ones who lost their computers, TV sets, refs and, gulp, even their SUVs that most likely were purchased on installment.

I only know about great floods because my late grandmother told me the story and how people drowned by the hundreds. She also painted this picture in my head about how pigs and other animals floated on water — the flooding was that bad.

I swear this happened and now it has gotten me into believing even more that God truly has a divine purpose in everything He allows things to happen — yes, even last Saturday’s deluge. I don’t know what it is, but I just trust Him. God will reign! I thank God that my friends and their families(Tita My, Marlene, Ferie,Mench, Beng, Jopen and other friends) who suffered from this deluge are now safe and sound.

I know it’s difficult for us to accept this most recent tragedy, especially for those who lost loved ones, because as a Milenyo victim, I also experienced walking in the floods. It’s too long to explain, but I already found the answer. We must embrace our land with so much care and respect.

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