FLOOD WARS

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on my site and for that, I would like to apologize. My blog was blocked for over a month and when it finally decided to stop going bonkers, I was way too busy and I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what I wanted to write about. In the end, I ended up doing what all the Greats (Shakespeare, Austen, and Poe, to name a few) have probably done before me. I twiddled my fingers and counted invisible sheep in my head. Thus begins the inevitable cycle of a frustrated writer suffering from writer’s block.

A lot has happened in the last 3 and a half months. There have been life changing experiences, cheap thrills, heart-breaking losses and crazy adventures in between. Having said that, I know most of you understand my dilemma over choosing the “perfect” story to share. It often feels like the best moments can’t be put into words and the rest of your anecdotes have become too run of the mill for other people to care. When you think about it, it’s a wonder how any of us can get a good word out when there are so many hitches that get in the way… Sometimes though, something larger-than-life happens and in that moment, the story seems to write itself.

I guess the only question that’s left to ask is… Why now? Why this story? Well… It all starts with WATER. Lots and LOTS of water…

The rain started around Friday last week (August 3rd) but it wasn’t until Monday evening (August 6th) that the droplets of water from the sky started pounding on the pavement with a vengeance.  By Tuesday morning, classes were suspended and the flood wars began.

Students balancing on top of chairs to avoid the flood…

The University of Santo Tomas. FYI, that pond/lake in the middle isn’t usually there. On a normal day, that’s the field…

 

Storms are never a welcome sight but this one in particular was an unabashed traitor. It came like a thief in the night, unexpected and DEADLY. As I rushed home from the University on Monday afternoon, I was told I left just in the nick of time. It wasn’t long before the downpour started lashing out at the train I was in; almost as if it had something to prove.  As the train swayed a little more violently than usual, I found myself praying that I’d make it to my stop before the weather got any worse. Every gruelling inch that train took was one step closer to me getting home and for that… I was grateful. Unfortunately, my other friends weren’t so lucky. Most of them were forced to set up camp in other people’s houses because it was getting impossible to travel. At that moment, my only goal was to get home. Thankfully, I did. The next morning, I watched in horror as the floods quickly engulfed the streets of Manila.

The streets of Metro Manila completely submerged in flood water

Search and rescue teams trying to get everyone to safety.

 

It was an incredible blessing to be safe at home but I couldn’t help but think about all of those people who weren’t as lucky as me. I was worried about my friends who were stuck in their houses and dormitories with limited food supply. I was glad they kept updating me on what was happening but aside from actually knowing how they were, I could do nothing more but sit at home and pray for their safety.

Tuesday evening (August 7th) was probably the worst day. I kept receiving text messages from my friends saying that water was invading the inside of their houses and that they needed to carry as much of their belongings up to the 2nd floor. Some possessions that were too big or too heavy to carry had to be sacrificed. One of my friends’ who is currently a piano major, watched helplessly as the flood began to lick the bottom of her piano. After a few hours, she knew that those beautiful piano keys were tarnished and the piano itself now belonged to the water.  Despite having to go through all of that, she sent me a text message later that night telling me that she was grateful that she and her family were dry and safe up in the 2nd floor of their home.

To add insult to injury, SOS tweets started coming in at a rapid pace. News of people stuck on the roof of their homes needing rescue were rampant. Relief centers tweeted about needing more supplies and reinforcements. Anyone who was willing and able to help was welcome. Then came the tweets about hospitals being flooded, patients running out of provisions and hospital generators slowly dying and needing diesel. Somewhere, someone out there needed help. People were hungry, tired and sick but still, the rescue operations continued and volunteers kept packing relief goods non-stop until the wee hours. At that point, everyone knew… It was definitely going to be a long night…

UST Hospital Emergency room. FLOODED!

UERM Hospital SUBMERGED!

 

By Wednesday morning (August 8th) the clouds were still dark and trickles of rain still fell, but the weather lightened considerably. Floods dropped and more roads opened for cars to pass through. There was still water in some areas but canoes, rubber boats and “submarine” like vehicles were no longer needed to get from point A to point B in most parts. Volunteers started flooding into relief centers in droves.  Everyone wanted to help in whatever little way they could. These people are the unsung heroes of this calamity. These are the people who were willing to give of themselves to help others. 🙂

Packing relief goods for the flood victims

At around 2pm on Wednesday, the clouds shifted, darkened and the flood wars continued. Though the rains weren’t as strong as the previous days, new water mixed with the flood equals even more flood. Water started to rise AGAIN but thankfully, the rains were not continuous. 😦 Night came, the rains were in and out and there was nothing left to do but pray.

Today is a Thursday (August 9th) and it looks as if this day marks THE END of the flood wars. Not a drop has fallen from the sky, Mr. Sun has come out to play and I couldn’t be more thankful. The battle is far from over. There are still people who need our help. A lot of people have suffered valuable losses and this should be the time when they’re allowed to lick their wounds and feel sorry for themselves. However, instead of catching people wallowing in self-pity, I see folks desperately striving and utterly willing to help their fellowmen. The beauty about being a Filipino is knowing that when push comes to shove, you are never alone. At the end of the day, we’ve got each others backs. 🙂

I salute the Prisoners of Muntinlupa Jail!!!

 

When tragedy strikes, picking yourself up and trudging on is always a choice. Amidst all the hardships my country had to go through these last few days, I am proud to say that I saw determination, sincerity and HEART. We may not know each other from Adam but we’re always there to lend a hand. We may not be a perfect people but we know when to put aside our differences and work towards a cause so much greater than any of us.

We are Filipinos. BANGON PINOY! (Rise!)