A Bystander’s View

2 weeks ago, Lance and I had spent the whole afternoon searching for a place that was nearer to my new work. Our initial list included Cubao, Katipunan, Pasig and Marikina. After looking at several places, I fell in love with this nice little apartment in Rosario. While a few friends agreed that the place was a steal, there were some who had their reservations. They forewarned that Pasig, especially the one near Marikina and Cainta, is often devastated by flood waters. I choose not to listen because 3rd floor, 40sqm, no association dues, free parking and a 4-digit monthly rental fee is just too good to pass up… We furnished and moved in to the new apartment in just 2 days!

Except for  cats (??) noisily running on the roof every now and then, the place lived up to all my fantasies! Imagine my horror yesterday when we woke up to shin deep water in front of our compound. Poor Lance had to brave the typhoon and move our cars to higher ground. The fun part of the day was that it was the same day I was supposed to leave for Australia and the flight is in three hours!! So Lance carried 20+ kilos of luggage to my car and we waded through flood waters. We were supposed to convoy all the way to Alabang but as Murphy’s Law would have had it, the streets that we had to pass had higher water than our street. I started praying that the water would not reach my engine as Lance started cursing the water flowing into the interior of his car. We couldn’t drive our cars more than a hundred meters and yet we got stuck for 2 hours trying to get back to the apartment.

Listening to the news, it seemed like we were in much better shape compared to villages that were very near our area. C5-Tiendesitas (a couple of blocks away from our place) was non-passable, Greenpark (which was on the same row as Ciudad De Mejia) was slowing turning into pool of murky waters and almost all the Marikina Villages were already submerged (including Provident which was one of the nicer villages being suggested to us when we were house hunting). We spent the rest of the day worrying about our cars and food. We didn’t have any supplies except for a kilo of rice, 2 small microwaveable viands, a liter of mineral water and Oishi’s wasabi potato chips. Being in a new place for only a week, we didn’t think of bringing flashlights or candles and as we anticipated, electricity went out sometime in the afternoon.

Having nothing to do but wait, we slept until electricity went back on at around 7pm. By this time, the rain has now become just a simple drizzle so I urged Lance to go out and buy important items. Surprisingly, the vehicles blocking outside our village and Ortigas Ave were all gone. The first sign of non-moving vehicles we saw were on the flyover going to Tiendesitas, we were puzzled why one lane had a row of trucks while one lane didn’t have any cars at all. The answer came to us a few minutes later when we passed the trucks, the drivers of the vehicles have already abandoned their trucks at the side of the road! Lance kept on telling me that it was reminiscent of Racoon City. Instead of getting stuck, we counterflowed and took the road going to Libis, thinking that Shopwise or Eastwood would still be open.

It dawned on me that this was indeed a major catastrophe. Most stores were close but we found one mercury drug store and one ministop still open however, they didn’t have any more supply of flashlights, candles, noodles, water and food. We decided to stop by Jollibee and found it full of people, probably waiting out the traffic or because they were like us, who didn’t have any food at home. C5 was turned into a large parking lot. Drivers and passengers were sleeping their cars. Commuters were walking and probably hoping for any form of transportation. I think everyone was puzzled by the fact that the rain has stopped but the disaster did not seem to have abated yet. Lance and I were a bit worried about the possibility of spending the night in the car. Fortunately, Lance remembered an alternate route. Our place was 5 minutes shy of the affected areas. We were warm, dry and had food so we worried and offered a prayer for those who were still affected, hoping that the night turns into a sunlight filled day faster than usual.

I was glad to have woken up to sunlight and immediately opened the tube to follow the news. It devastated me to find out that despite the lack of rain, the water has not subsided yet. I woke Lance up when they flashed an aerial view of the affected areas; he commented that he seemed to be looking at footage of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. Chocolate brown water covered cities!!! It was sooo surreal especially knowing that this was just a few meters from our own place.

I have often wondered if Noah was really able to move the ark with just 60 days of rain. In my weak mind, it seemed impossible for a sea to form over just a short period of time. God has humbled me once again through yesterday’s tempest. The only difference about this flood was there was more than one Noah. I am eternally grateful for those who coordinated rescue efforts, to those bystanders who became instant lifeguards, to those who continue to spread awareness in every little way they can… As of this writing, it has started to rain again. 😦 😦

While each of us must move and help each other, Prayer is still the greatest gift that we can offer. In God’s grace and saving power, I lift up my spirit.

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