Viewing: Ondoy

Moving on

it is hard to move on, isn’t it?

i feel like i should be blogging about the events of last week. not just the storm and all the discontent it stirred up in me and many of our countrymen, but also unbelievably sad and infuriating events that happened to my nearest and dearest.
but i just realized that being able to leave these events in the past is actually a huge blessing! and so is the safety and closeness of my family. we are fortunate in so many ways.
i also realized i had been feeling guilty for being to continue with “normal” life here in singapore despite the widespread tragedy back home. but the life i have here is a blessing too — although if you had looked at me all twisted up with worry last week, you’d never have guessed.
so i begin to embrace normal life again, and remind myself that i’m not a bad person, or heartless or useless, for being where i am, having what i have, and being comfortable.
(yes, i know. i can be hard on myself for absolutely no reason.)
so it’s back to regular programming for me. and that’s a blessing. it is in my prayers tonight, and for the nights to come, that all those who most need this blessing receive it too.

Oh, Ondoy

i woke late on saturday and spent most of the early afternoon on facebook and twitter. almost all the status updates on my home page were about the torrential rains in manila, and mild things like hassle of being stuck in traffic or the joy of bed weather. i didn’t give it much thought — i was going to the f1 rocks beyonce and black eyed peas concert in fort canning that evening, and i was preoccupied with figuring out what to wear in case it rained. (it didn’t.)

before i left for f1 rocks at 4 pm, i wondered briefly whether i should call mom and find out if she was ok. mandaluyong is notorious for flooding, particularly near city hall. we used to live a street away from city hall, the lowest point in town, and moved out right after suffering through a single rainy season with waist-deep floods. i brushed off the thought, thinking that the area we live in now has never flooded, ever.

at 2am, after the (incidentally, phenomenal) BEP and beyonce shows, i was cooling down with a late dinner and cold drinks with marlon at chijmes when i received a text from my sister. our house was flooded up to sink (thigh) level, the entire sala was afloat, and the ref was submerged.

TOTAL SHOCK. that meant three women (my mom, tita raquel and our maid rosiele) and FIVE dogs were all upstairs. thoughts whirled in my head (was the roof dripping as well? did they have food and water? would all the sockets downstairs get wrecked? did they manage to bring up any of the electronics?) as i realized there was nothing i could do but call the next morning. the only consolation i could think of was that my sister had sold the car after we moved abroad, otherwise it would have been heartbreaking to see it wrecked in the flood

the morning after

i called mom on sunday morning. i knew she would be okay, maybe stressed out and tired at most, but i had to talk to her just to be sure. i caught her just as the flood waters had subsided and she was surveying the extent of the damage. she told me how difficult it was to try and save as much as they could, just her and the maid. other houses in the compound have men in the house and more people in the household, so they got more things done. “hindi na ako nagpatulong,” she said. “pag ganyan, talagang kanya-kanya na.”

still, i could hear the relief in her voice when she told me that our house was still one of the cleanest and least damaged in the compound. some of the neighbors had to abandon their houses. floods were higher in the lower-situated houses. their cars were damaged. the marketplace nearby had chest-deep floods.

because she’s moving out of the house in october, mom had books, clothes and other things packed in boxes and stored on the first floor. all the boxes melted away, leaving our things in a soggy and dirty mess. my heart sank thinking about how much effort mom put into packing; now she has to do everything all over again.

still, i’m just thankful she’s ok.

heartbreaking, heartening

watching the videos and seeing the pictures posted on facebook, youtube and twitter has left me with a mixed bag of emotions.

i am proud to see the strength of fortunate filipinos who are pulling together to organize rescue and relief operations. i saw so many people who felt it was unacceptable to just watch the typhoon take its toll. people literally could not rest until they found a way to help.

i am incensed at the ineptitude of the government. the strength, responsiveness, compassion and capability of the private sector only highlights their selfishness and irresponsibility. if public funds were properly channeled and used, would our city crumble so easily? would we have been better equipped to rescue people?

i am hoping against hope. will something good come out of this? will we — both the people and the government — learn something this time around? will we take action to make sure this never happens again? i can only think of the numerous dikes and clearly marked escape routes i saw in phuket post-tsunami, and hope someone, anyone, comes up with a plan for the future.

i am heartbroken by so many images. the gleaming white walls of a friend’s newly finished dream home, turned to mud. her shiny new grand piano sinking into brown waters. a dog found drowned in a cage. smashed cars piled up on top of each other in ways i didn’t even think possible. i don’t even want to think about the dead bodies captured by cameramen roving cainta and marikina.

i am amazed by the humor and resilience of filipinos, who can smile, laugh and joke while neck-deep in water.

i am suddenly uncertain about my future, our future in manila. we had planned to finally put down the first payment for a lot in a friend’s subdivision this december. we were even thinking of paying for the lot in full after getting our christmas bonuses. but after seeing photos of all the houses in the area submerged up to the first floor, now we are not so sure.

i am thankful my family is alright, and that we have extra cash to send mom for repairs and things that need to be replaced. we even have a little left over to send to the red cross — just because my family isn’t the only one that’s been affected.

i am afraid for the storm that is supposed to hit manila this wednesday and thursday. i want my mom to check into a hotel, but she doesn’t want to leave the dogs.

i am praying. still.