It was a normal-looking rainy Saturday morning when I woke up early for my French class. I figured there was a storm but I never thought it would turn out to be one of the most unforgettable experiences I would have in my thirty years of existence.
Almost the entire French 5 class braved the heavy rains and went to UP Diliman that morning. We could barely hear our teacher Cinddi's voice because of the angry pouring outside. A few minutes before noon, my Dad already called me up and told me not to go home yet. Our street was flooded, and even my big SUV wouldn't be able to make it through. Water already made its way inside the vehicles of my brother and sisters. That has never happened in all the eighteen years that we've lived in BFQC.
My brother's XTrail and my old car, Sweet Cheeks, now Adie's. Plus my other old car, the Getz, now Andrea's. All three took a swim.
My friends couldn't go home just yet, as news of Katipunan being flooded already were sent by their families through text messages. So we all trooped to Bahay ng Alumni to have lunch at Chocolate Kiss, with high hopes that somehow the rains would stop and we could get home after a few hours. But the few hours stretched on until 10:30PM. We were stranded big time. My beau, Alvin, tried to make his way home after work. To no avail. He ended up joining me at Bahay ng Alumni.
We sat on hard wooden benches, telling stories and playing games. The laughter eased a bit of the panic and frustration we were all feeling. Alvin was beside me all the time, and that gave me a sense of calmness. We were like refugees huddled together in a dimly lit corner, sharing rations of crackers, cheese and bananas that my classmates managed to buy at the UP Coop. When night time fell, the mosquitoes swarmed in. Cellphone batteries were slowly starting to drain. The rain quieted down by 8pm. After two hours, Shiela's husband came to fetch her. Alvin and I were ready to go home. I offered the others a place to stay. Our home was spared from floods and power outage, so it was the best place for them to spend the night. After spending ten hours at Bahay ng Alumni, it was such a relief to come home to family, warmth, comfort and food!
Taken at 10PM. UP Bahay ng Alumni. Anne, Alvin, Cinddi, Rocky, Connie, Edna, Ian, Liezl, Shiela and Dan - All smiling despite the experience.
But I know that our experience is nothing compared to the suffering that so many people have gone through. I was already getting updates on Twitter about the floods, people getting trapped and stranded, Provident Village residents on rooftops. Cars and houses being swept away. Villages completely submerging in water. It was terrible! I couldn't help but whisper grateful prayers to God. Yes, we were stranded for ten hours. But we were kept safe and dry. We were lucky.
Typhoon Ondoy brought about disaster, destruction, and so much loss. They say it is the worst rainfall in Philippine history. It is even more disastrous than the Hurricane Katrina that hit the United States in 2005.
Lifted from Inquirer.net:
"The 15th weather disturbance that hit the Philippines in 2009 dumped a total of 455 millimeters of rain in Quezon City alone in 24 hours, compared to the 250 millimeters of rain that Hurricane Katrina brought to New Orleans in Louisiana in the United States in 2005."
photo courtesy of www.boston.com
As of 8:30AM today, the death toll has risen to 83. 300,000 people displaced by the typhoon. Many areas are still flooded. Many families are still not rescued. Many are still missing. 95 million pesos worth of crops in Calabarzon were destroyed. Although the nation is in a mourning state, it is heartening to see everyone uniting with but one goal: to help. Donations of cash and relief goods are continuously pouring in. People here and there are volunteering to help in any way possible. Even Filipinos abroad are sending their support from different places across the globe. It's a marvelous thing to watch. A clear sign that the bayanihan spirit is not dead, and will never cease to exist.
Weather reports say that another storm is brewing two to three days away. I say we beat Nature with Prayer. The force of a whole country in prayer is far stronger than any force of nature. Our God is a merciful God. Never will He forsake us.
My heart goes out to those who have lost so much in this terrible calamity. Prayers promised. My family continues to donate relief goods to different rescue teams and organizations. Let's all help. There is a relief operation center near you. Give what you can.
During trying times like these, there is one line from the Bible that holds true: GOD WILL MAKE A WAY WHEN THERE SEEMS TO BE NO WAY.