September 28, 2009
I would not really know how to begin because this story is another milestone not only in my family’s life but also in the lives of our neighbors, our community and our own town, Cainta, Rizal.
In all of my fifty two years of existence, this is the first time that I encountered such an experience. For the last two days, I felt that the world stopped all of a sudden. Have you ever imagined that kind of helpless feeling and just cry your heart out in frustration? When all you can do is pray and hold on to each other because you are not sure if you’ll still see each other tomorrow or the following day or the next? This happened to us at the height of typhoon Ondoy.
September 26, 2009. Saturday was supposed to be another family day for us. Hubby and my daughter left early to do our weekend marketing. They arrived home at around 8am and we spent another hour of storing the food that they bought. Hubby and I were scheduled to go to Sto. Domingo Church in QC upon our friend Lovell’s invitation to visit Mama Mary at her Shrine (La Naval) before they prepare her for the procession on October 11. Although it has been raining cats and dogs the previous night, the Saturday downpour left us unaware that flood waters could reach our place in a few hours. We’ve been staying in this place for the last fifteen years and even at the heaviest downpour, rain waters only reach our gate. There was something unusual at the speed of water coming in so we spent the next two hours trying to save most of our possessions from being drenched and destroyed.
Nobody thought of having lunch although my daughter prepared one. At around 1pm, flood waters inside the house reached my waist so I told hubby that we should vacate the place. I was the first one to leave guided by my son Josef carrying a change of clothes for each one of us, cellphones which come in handy in times of disasters like this. We sought refuge at my neighbor’s house across the street. The water outside was up to my neck when we crossed the street and I only realized I was not wearing any slippers. My son painstakingly carried the contents of our freezer on his shoulder thinking that we would not have enough food if the flood goes for long. They stayed for another hour knocking on our other neighbors’ doors and helping them into safety. We were five families who stayed in that place for about three days, helping and comforting each other, sharing the meager food that we had and trying to contact the outside world for help.
When you are tense and stressed, sleep wouldn’t come that easy. I remember our neighbor Jomarie who went back to their place just to retrieve the favorite doll of his 3-year old daughter. We thought he was carried away by the raging waters because he was not answering our shouts. According to his wife, that doll that he saved was his daughter’s security blanket and that she could not sleep at night without it. The love of a father to his child. Silent tears were flowing freely when I learned about it.
We might have lost most of our material possessions but we gained extended families in our neighbors who went through the same ordeal with us. I am so thankful that my own family is complete. It might take sometime for us to have our normal lives back . It is an experience I will never forget.
The brush with typhoon Ondoy taught me many things. Your faith in God should never waver in times like this, it’s the time that you need Him most. It taught me that one could live simply from day to day, without worrying about what tomorrow brings. You are just thankful that you are given another day to survive. Thank you Lord for keeping us all safe.