Monday, September 28, 2009

Where were you when...

Do you find yourself recalling some momentous event in the past and asking yourself, where were you when it happened? Or what were you doing then? I think typhoon Ondoy which hit several areas in Luzon would be one of those.

Unlike many others, I won't have a memorable story to tell. Last Saturday was like any other Saturday in my household. We stayed at home all day. It was raining, but not that hard, and there was hardly any wind. I was wondering if there was a storm but had too much on my mind to think of turning on the television to check the news. See, I was planning to pack my hospital bag last weekend to get ready for the big day. But I also had some last minute things I needed to get done for the baby's nursery so I wanted to put everything in place to see what else I need.

My energy not being it's usual levels, I was exhausted come noontime. While we were having lunch, I told my husband maybe we should start decorating for Christmas the following week while I can still move around. He told me why wait until next week when there was no time like the present. I felt like I was working towards a deadline and my attention was entirely focused on all the things I was doing at once.

Too tired to do more, I settled down around 6PM and joined my husband in the living room to watch television. Imagine our surprise when they showed footage of Katipunan under water with newscasters saying water was neck deep in some parts. We were stunned and thought the media was exagerrating. My husband went outside the house to check but can see no sign of the devastation that was hitting Metro Manila. We were very fortunate. Our street was not affected but apparently, all roads leading out of there was underwater.

(So to my friends who expressed their concern, thank you so much! We were safe the entire time. Our area in Katipunan was not affected.)

They started showing footage of other places where the flood waters reached rooftops of 2-storey houses and people were camped out on their roofs with their families as rain continue to fall, waiting for rescuers which we all know now won't reach them for hours. I felt terrible... and somehow, a little guilty. While people were fighting for their lives... I was thinking of Christmas trees in September. And then they started announcing the general areas that were experiencing heavy flooding and to my horror, the area where my mom's house and my grandmother's house are was in the list. I checked my cellphone and noticed for the first time that I had no signal. I started running around the house looking for a place where I can get a signal. I was finally able to get my phone working and called my mom. They were ok and their area was not suffering either. The worst thing that happened to my family with regard to this typhoon was that my sister was forced to walk in flood waters up to her waist from the train station to our house. It took her a few hours to get home but she was already safely at home when I called.

We continued to watch the news in disbelief all night. It was obvious that the country was not ready for a disaster of this magnitude. Sad thought. It took hours to mobilize boats for rescue operations and the best that this guy with the National Disaster Coordination Council can do is to tell people to try to understand that they are having a hard time reaching them and that the best they can do at the moment is to stay calm and "...pairalin ang self-rescue or self-preservation". That annoying phrase was being repeated by the news anchors several times. Tell that to the family on the roof, scared sh*tless as they watch the flood waters continue to rage and rise around them, who are calling for help. "Pairalin nyo na lang po muna ang self preservation nyo."

Come Sunday and we see a lot of people organizing relief operations. My husband and his friends attempted to reach one of their friends in a heavily affected area to extend their help and spent the entire day there. And then we see the military being deployed... and you can't help but wonder, where were they yesterday?

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