... seeing the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy (international name Ketsana) really put things into perspective.
Our TV at the pad is not working so we don't really have access to the news and our area was not really affected so I did not really realize the magnitude of what happened. Yesterday I went back here to my parents' house and was already able to see photos online from various sources as well as watch local news updates. And I was floored. To say I was shocked was an understatement.
photos from Time
photos from Jonas
Last Saturday I was at the office praying for 2pm to arrive quickly so I can go straight to the Candy Fair. My Seventeen Sigaw sisters and I decided to still go even if it rains so by 11am I changed into my Candy Fair-clothes already. By 12pm the rain still hasn't let up, if anything it seemed to go even worse. One by one my Sigaw sisters cancelled, saying it was already flooded in their area and I, too, agreed it would be unwise to go while a storm is raging outside. Still, I felt upset. I have waited for this fair for a year (we started planning to go to the next fair while Candy Fair '08 was ongoing) and it seemed unfair for this storm to rain on my parade (literally and figuratively!). By 1pm we were already hearing news from outside that the Philcoa and Quezon City Circle area are already flooded and motorists were stranded. A quarter before 2pm (our shift's end), no one from the afternoon shift arrived to take in calls (they were all stranded) so (for the first time in my almost three-years with the company) we were asked not to log off and continue taking in calls. TL Julius was so calm, collected and composed even when we were already complaining. I suddenly got my period and the colder than usual temperature in the office got to me and by 6pm I was already chilling with fever so they allowed me to rest. Our 5am-2pm shift extended to 9:30pm! I was so tired, fever-y and aching to go home and clean up. My Ma and Pa called to urge me to just stay in the office though because they saw videos of flooded QC on the news but I was adamant to go back home to our pad and rest there so I just assured them that if the cab passes by anything remotely close to a knee-deep flood then I will ask the cab driver to go back. Thankfully I did not get any of that so by 10pm I arrived at our pad safely. Good thing I was on VL the next day (Sunday) so I just stayed holed up with my friend/housemate Asther and rested.
But sadly that is not the case for the rest of the Manileños. While I was in a dry, albeit cold and air-conditioned place, 80% of Metro Manila was filled with water. While I was upset over not experiencing Candy Fair this year, my countrymen experienced the wrath of nature. And while I am begrudgingly taking in calls, people lost their loved ones, their houses, and their belongings. I feel so idiotic now.
I know what it's like to lose all your belongings. On January 1, 2001, we lost our house to a big fire that swept more than 50% of our neighborhood. Everything I held dear in my 14 years of existence - my Barbie dolls, my playsets, my books, my clothes and shoes, my medals and certificates, my study table, and most importantly, our photos - perished. Add to that other important stuff like documents, jewelry, and appliances. We weren't there so we were not able to save anything. Not one of my family members were hurt, thank God. Our family pet, a talking maena we named Koji, died a few weeks prior to the incident (must have been a premonition). That's all too well for him, it would be heartbreaking to imagine him prancing in panic in his cage while the rest of the house is burning :( But all those seem nothing though when you think of which roof you're going to stay under in the next few days. We stayed in my paternal grandparents' house while we picked up the pieces and my parents had our house rebuilt. Meanwhile help poured in from everyone; I received clothes, uniform and other stuff from my classmates and teachers. I felt so blessed because even when we were at our lowest, people (even those we don't know personally) still stepped up and did what they can to help.
It's quite ironic that my hometown - Navotas, considered the flood capital of NCR together with Malabon and Valenzuela - did not feel the blow of Ondoy that much.Forget the Candy Fair. Forget the other stuff. I am thankful that my family and friends are safe.
It was really awful, and I pray this never happens again. I feel for the people who lost their stuff and their homes... But most of all my heart breaks for the people who lost family members and loved ones... Material things can be replaced, but nothing can match a hug, a kiss and a smile from a loved one. My prayers are with you on this difficult time.
On Thursday I will bring clothes and food to donate to HSBC-HDPP's CSR program for the calamity victims. Dane also wants to volunteer so we are looking for organizations that can use our services. We cannot rely on the government alone for these things (especially when funds for public welfare are just being pocketed by greedy megalomaniacs)... A little goes a long way! Our people needs us. It is high time we stepped up :)