Sunday, September 27, 2009


Yesterday, I had received the first copies of my book, "Six Degrees of Expatriation: Uncovering Lives of Expats in Singapore." It was pretty exciting to hold in my hand (see photo) something I had poured myself to for several months. Writing a book is like giving birth. I posted on Facebook, a happy status to announce my joy. It read, “Maida Pineda:The courier guy just delivered a copy of my book. Hot off the press. How surreal to hold the book in my hands!
Yesterday at 12:07pm · Comment · Like”

As the comments kept adding, the excitement of having the book in my hands was immediately washed away. I got a message from my sister back in Manila asking for prayers. The floodwaters had already entered our home. It had reached the first step of the stairs, about 8 inches I estimate. As I was on mission to fix a glitch on my website with a friend, another Filipino. Our minds quickly raced worrying if our families were ok. She immediately called her mother, safely in the company of her brother. We learned a friend’s concern. Her father was in Singapore for her birthday. Her mother would have been in town too. But her passport had expired so she could not join in the celebration. Left in Manila in their bungalow in Marikina, a city in Manila, she was now standing in the roof clutching on her money, her passport, and the clothes she was wearing. Their dog had already died, as the rain had already completely damaged their one-level home. Her mother was now hungry in the roof, with no relief coming to help her. None of my friends’ friends could help either for they too were in a similar predicament.

Being away from your family and loved ones in difficult times like this one, you feel helpless. The emotion filled our hearts. My friend and I felt weak. And despite our efforts to try to be productive and focus on the computer problem in front of us, we failed. We then decided to turn to join the rest of the choir practicing for the six o’clock mass. Together as a community and the rest of the church, we prayed for the victims of the typhoon. The 24-hour rain fall surpassed the rainfall for one whole month.

I logged back into Facebook in the evening to find some friends online. They were safe and dry. Luckily, their homes were not damaged by the floods. But one friend told me all the chickens in the poultry of her recently deceased father all died. That meant her brother had just lost all the income he was set to earn two weeks from now.

The images from Facebook are surreal, cars even four wheel drive jeeps floating in the flood water. In some cases, only the roof was barely visible. It wasn’t real.

It is odd how quickly it shifts from the surreal feeling of holding a book you’ve worked on four months to the sobering reality of a devastating flood. According to my sister in the US, this typhoon Ondoy is even worse than the infamous Hurricane Katrina in terms of floods. My family is doing ok, picking up the pieces in the damage the flood has left behind in our home including the parts of our van stolen by some looters.

I ask for your prayers for all the families affected by this typhoon.


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