Friday, October 02, 2009

When Nature Strikes

September 26-27, in the wake of Typhoon Ondoy (Typhoon Ketsana -international name).

Cuddling her 3-year old son, the mother put down her belongings and sat beside me. Her husband left them to save their daughter from possible danger. On their way to Marikina City, they left their residential place to save the family from flood only to find out they were heading to a more flooded area.
Slouched in the corner was a college student who had been sitting silently for hours . I initiated a conversation. She left her school to purchase materials for a class presentation and when she's about to go back, the University was surrounded by flood. All her personal belongings including her money were left at school. Unfortunately there's no way for her to go back.

Sitting between them was me. I left the office at 4:00 PM to make my way home. Jeepneys and buses stopped their operations. In lieu of the usual path, I took a different route. But whichever route I may take, I'm trapped. Main roads were already submerged into flood. Vehicles were not moving and there's no way to leave the place but for me to fly. It was lucidly impossible to go home. I was handling my niece's mobile since mine was recently stolen but due to poor reception, I couldn't make a call to let my family know where I was.
We were three of many people stranded at Katipunan LRT station. I didn't make it to Santolan Station, the last station. There was an announcement that it was already flooded. Passed 9:00 PM, my stomach began to grumble. Most of the stores were closed and I was fortunate to have the last order of tuna sandwich. I had my dinner. It was 11:00PM, we were still slumped on the floor. I tried to keep my self awake by reading a book that I always carry in my bag. Then I played with the 3-year old kid, we talked though the only word he kept saying the whole time was "daddy". The hand of the clock reached 1:00 AM, my eyelids turned heavy and the kid slept with comfort wrapped by his mother's arms. I took off my jacket and used it as a blanket. Never in my life that I imagined myself sleeping at a train station in sitting position. From time to time I had to wake up, other than the uncomfortable situation, I was hoping things will get better. It was 5:00AM , vehicles began to move but a walking turtle is much faster. The college student began to cry, she doesn't know where to go. She was able to call her father and after learning that her family was fine, the line got cut off. Her father told her to go somewhere else, their place, Tumana Marikina City was already engulfed by flood. She had no money for fare, not a single penny. I don't have much cash that time. With 100 pesos in my wallet, I handed her the 50 and asked her if that would be enough. She was reluctant, wiping her tears. "Come on, take it", I said with a smile for her not to feel shy. I took her hand and tucked the money in. We exchanged names and said goodbye.
As I struggled to make my way home, Typhoon Ondoy continued to devastate the Metro Manila.

Photo courtesy of ABC News Australia

Photo courtesy of ABC News Australia

Photo courtesy of ABC News Australia

Photo courtesy of ABC News Australia (Reuters: Erik de Castr)

Photo courtesy of ABC News Australia (Reuters: Erik de Castr)

Photo courtesy of ABC News Australia

From Santolan Station, I had to walk few kilometers to reach Sta. Lucia East Mall . It was still dark, the road turned to a field of mud. Private vehicles were abandoned, no streetlights and there, on my way was a flood. I could see the other end of the road and it seemed feasible to pass through. The water was below my knee, I began to stride. Trucks also began to move and from the motion of its wheels waves began to form, it was coming to my direction. I had to find something to clutch on, if not, my exhausted feet will helplessly let me plunge and I'll swim like a frog. Thanks for that sturdy tree.

I reached the other end where crowds were swollen. People spent the night inside the mall. I had to stay under a waiting shed. I leaned on, covered my face with my jacket, closed my eyes and unknowingly slumbered. When I woke up, I was still with the same volume of crowd. I had to ride in a cargo truck where I and a friend bumped with each other. We have almost the same story. My friend recognized her neighbor who was a truck driver, we transferred to a 14-wheeler truck. A field reporter was roaming around, I ducked in to make sure I won't be interviewed or captured by the rolling camera. I have no plans to let my self seen on TV miserably like that and yes, I'm a camera shy.

My usual 1 1/2 to 2 hours of travelling time was off -the-record. It took me 22 hours to get home. After all I'd been through, I couldn't complain much but to thank God I was safe.

For all the victims of Typhoon Ondoy, it took my heart out. I pray that resilience will take over and everyone can start again. Life goes on.


goatman said...

I was wondering how you were when I heard of the flooding in Philippines but didnot know how close you were to the area. I am glad that you are safe; and you know that you are an Angel in the eyes of the student that you helped.
Our true nature is exposed in times of confusion and destruction. And yours is that of compassion and helping.
I am happy to call you my friend.

iriz said...

Goatman, thank you for a heartfelt concern. My family was safe and our residential area was not flooded but the way to get through was really a struggle since affected areas were close. About the student,i just thought "what if it's me?", one way to understand other's situation is to put your feet in their shoes and i know you do that. Yes, of course, we're friends. And im glad too.

You have a great day. :)

Heavenly Muse said...

well..nature has its indifferent course of action...

Jerick (the former Curbside Puppet) said...

you're right. life does go on.

Nessa said...

I am glad you made it home safely after all of that. I pray for you and all those affected by the floods.

iriz said...

heavenly muse:
i agree, a course of action that results to catastrophe yet unites our nation.

as long as we breathe, we have to keep going.

thanks, affected areas are now recovering from the devastation.i hope safety for everyone.

Heavenly Muse said...

hi..thanks for ur kind words

iriz said...

hello heavenly muse, thanks for dropping by again. i guess those words are just byproduct of your opinion. you let it out of my mind. nice day! :)

Seraphine said...

the typhoons and floods were in the news here in the u.s. it becomes real when you see the pictures, and hear from the survivors, like you. at least, people helped each other, and your family is safe. i'm sorry all of that happened to you. hugs.

iriz said...

hi seraphine, the experience was really unforgettable and some are gradually recovering. too bad, another typhoon did hit our country and we pray that all help is provided.

thanks for dropping by!!! :)

polona said...

see you were in for some rough times. i'm glad things worked out for you and you are safe...
nature gives but it also takes...

Aggie said...

I'm so glad you made it home safe and I hope the student did too ...

gillboard said...

been a long time since i was last here... sorry to hear about your Ondoy experience... 22 hours... wow!!! good to know you're okay... dami akong friends from marikina who lost everything...

Keshi said...

OMG Im so v glad that ur safe Iriz! Im sorry I couldnt be here any earlier but Im so glad I came to a post where u said that u were safe. God bless all! X


iriz said...

i agree, i guess that's how nature puts balance.
thanks polona. im safe, alive and kicking. :)

im thinking of that student too. i could feel that she made it home but just what was expected their house is one of those engulfed by flood. i feel for her.
i made it, thanks :)

oo nga e di pa nagextend ng 2 hours , isang araw na. nung dumating yung father ng 3-year old kid, nagkwento cia ng sitwasyon ng marikina.nagtanong ako ng mga places na sobrang apektado. i was worried about my friend's family living in glad they're safe. yun nga lang talgang binaha pa rin.
im ok. salamat. :)

that's the same reaction i had when i saw the flood on my way.
it's ok as long as you pass by, thanks for reading it through. im safe, thank you. :)