Friday, September 24, 2010

Remembering September 26th

One year ago, we experienced one of the most catastrophic natural calamities that struck our country. Typhoon Ondoy was a very desvastating event in our lives. Many lives and properties were lost. We were caught unprepared. I was unprepared.

September 25th, Friday. After my routine classes, many were busy preparing for the upcoming Sponge Cola concert sponsored by St. Mary's College of Meycauayan Alumni Association. Although I do not have direct participation on that activity, except to sell tickets as I am an alumnus, I once in a while took glance on what's happening inside the school's gymnasium on where the concert will be held. I am planning not to attend the concert since I am not a fan, but I was advised to attend because I was assigned to join the ushers for the event. I hesitated because I am planning to take rest the next day or to spend time in Manila, but since I am an alumnus I have to nod my head. Lest that I know, that nod would later save my life, and my school files!

September 26th, Saturday. The rain that poured the previous night was so heavy that it made our barangay flodded. (Actually, a slight rain would turn barrio into a swamp with an ankle-deep flood that would subside three or four days later.) Despite of the heavy rains and if I am not mistaken, a typhoon-signal was raised earlier that morning, I still managed to come to school. Rain poured so heavy that at nine in the morning it turned the school grounds a big fishpond with a knee-deep flood. Organizers canceled the event near lunch time as the flood waters entered the school gym. My co-teachers were planning to go home because they were worried what might happened next. Its better for them to be with their family rather than at school at that time. But as we planned to go home, floods went higher and we cannot find any form of public transportation. We have no choice but to stay and wait for the next thing. Flood waters started to invade our faculty room that we to save our files atop of our tables. Flood waters rushed so fast that in less than an hour, we have to save again some files that were placed on low tables. Computer sets and other important documents were evacuated at the school library located at the second floor. We thought that waters will stop raising but to our surprise, it raised past our faculty tables. The tables, full of files papers and personal things, in halo-halo form began to topple like a domino one by one. Seeing this scene prompted us to think some plan how to save those papers. Like Lego blocks we have to build pyramids using three tables, making the topmost table the repository of our files. Rushing waters made the tables so weak that some tables toppled. After we realized that we can't save all the files, we left the faculty to evacuate at the library. Realizing that we have nothing to eat, we returned at the faculty to get any available food. Thanks to some candies and to the canned sardines we were save to starvation!

It was my first time to see chest-deep flood waters near the national highway. The place where SMCM stands is one of the few high places in downtown Meycauayan City. Realizing this, I was worried how high flood rose back our home. I was informed through a text message from my brother that only two of our ten-step staircase were visible. I was so worried that the waters might reach the second level of our house. Thanks be to God, waters stopped to rise. We are so lucky because we have evacuated everything from our silong last June as we expected floods to came. But who would thought a nearly ten-foot high flood. Never in my entire life I have seen such.

Spending that night was the longest night that I've ever had so far. All teachers that were stranded were anxious. We prayed the rosary so hard for the rain to stop. Communication was so difficult. With electricity down, we don't have any news on whats going on outside Bulacan.

Heavy rains stopped leaving Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal and other parts of Luzon devastated for almost a month. I was not easy for many to recover. Until now, I could still see some families living on shabby tents in Marilao because they don't have the means to build again their lives. What's more heartbreaking is that many people died during the storm. A family of 5 in Daungan, Meycauayan died when their house was gushed in to the river along with them by raging waters. The mother was found along with water hyacinths near Meycauayan Bridge two weeks after.

Remembering these things were painful. Maybe it is nature's way of telling us that we should start to rehabilitate our once-glorious nature. We should start now, because I don't want to another Ondoy to wake us up again.