Today, I woke up to what seemed like a never-ending caravan of ambulances. I thought I could hear sirens from an ambulance, only to realize the horn alerted people residing at Marikina River to evacuate. I live in a condo unit up on the 32nd floor overlooking the Marikina River and C5. I recall at about 2am, I woke up frightened by fierce lighting and thunderstorms. But in the morning, the view from my condo was simply sheets of rain. I could no longer see the buildings in the horizon.
|The view from my window when I woke up about 7am, looking out to c5|
After the mandatory cup of strong espresso to make my brain function and bowl of oatmeal, I got in touch with my parents to check if they were ok. They said they were fine. They had moved the cars to higher ground. But after a few minutes I got a panicked call from my mom, telling me the water was rising. Today, is the same day Ondoy happened five years ago. I was in Singapore at the time. Yet, I will not forget how terrified my sister and mom were as water entered our home, damaged our cars, appliances, and lost many of our things. Thankfully, they survived Ondoy.
Mom was visibly frightened. When she saw the water outside the gate, she knew it wouldn’t be long for the street to be impassable. I told them to go to my flat soonest. She said what about the flooded areas. We plotted a way for them to get to my condo, and told them to leave the house right away. In the meantime, a few friends prayed with me for my parents to get safely to my flat. As a single woman residing alone, I quickly worried about what food to serve my parents. Living solo, I stock up my flat with healthy food: lean meat and veggies. I don’t have canned food stored. What if we lose power, I thought. I don’t usually have bread ready. So I quickly got in the lift and did panic shopping in 7-11. It was the IT place to be. It was barely 9am and the store was packed with fellow shoppers. There were no eggs. But crackers, bread, and canned goods were all available. I then realized they were short in staff too. All their staff were working their second shift, for the other employees could not get to work with the floods. The cashier told me he was likely to stay for a third shift since the third shift too were from flooded Marikina. I told him, I was shopping for my parents, who had to flee their home due to the floods. The kind cashier told me, “Sana makarating sila dito” (I hope they make it here). I was touched despite his long work day and non-stop customers he still cared. Thankfully, my parents made it to my flat. Both were shaken, but just relieved to leave the family home just in time. It was pretty bad. My parents are both senior citizens, and the last thing I want is for them to be stuck in the flood.
|Typhoon Mario I snapped from my flat|
As I write this tonight, my studio is a haven for my parents. I am now on an airbed, as they sleep on my bed. I live across the mall. I braved it twice today to buy food for me and my two evacuees. As I stood in the long line in McDonald’s, I was impressed the hardworking crew serving despite a mere skeleton staff minus many absent employees who could not make it to work. The security guards and maintenance men and women continued with their work. They worried about me, when they saw me leave the condo without an umbrella. On Facebook, I marvel at the resilience of the Filipino spirit. A former colleague in advertising, woke up to a soaked car and floating refrigerator. Yet, her spirit was steadfast. She still managed to post her triumph killing flying cockroach. She also posted how she plotted to save the dog left outside in the rain by her neighbor. The Philippines is a veteran of one too many typhoons and floods. We have learned to deal with it. But more than just living with it, we've learned to become a helping hand to others. We open our homes. We serve soup to warm their bodies and feed their spirits. We offer a safe dry haven to others.
Experiencing Typhoon Mario today is a perfect reminder of how to survive storms in our life. They are inevitable. But we have to face them courageously. But as we face our own storms, we still try to be there for others facing their own storms. That’s how it goes. They’ve said the Filipino Spirit is waterproof. I believe that. I also believe tomorrow will be better. The howling wind and strong rains will end. The sun will come out tomorrow. And we will all be dry and soaking up its warmth.