It was a dark night.
But the Filipino have had many a dark night, and have had endured many a storm.
But the storm that one Saturday night was different.
It started out like ordinary rainfall, just a drizzle, in fact. There was wind, yes, slight howling, barely noticeable, dark night eclipsing the dark clouds. Just your ordinary night. Two nights prior, the resident storm-forecaster PAGASA issued storm warnings, but in those warnings, they have relegated Ondoy’s (international codename: Ketsana) category to that of a minor storm.
Nothing to worry about.
No one was prepared.
The rains came. A deluge.
It was a different kind of rain. It was harsh, it was hard, it was constant. And the constancy was alarming. We Filipinos are no strangers to storms. We fear them, yes, but we have known no other life than a life with storms. We would build our lives around them, and welcome the majestic sunsets that were their peace offering. Our storms would come in gusts, but then fade into light rain, and then pummel us again, accompanied by aggressive winds, great lightning, and even greater thunder.
Oddly, there was no thunder and no lightning and just slight winds that day. But there was rain, continuous rain, and dark clouds that drove, to us, more rain.
A month’s supply in six hours, they say. Those six hours of rain claimed 171 lives, to date, and billions of pesos in damages.
Some said it was the fault of the government, inefficient and buckling at the weight of disasters (although this government have had much practice). Some said it was because PAGASA was underfunded and archaic. Some said the flood was enhanced by the waters in the two dams that were released without warning, which swelled the canals and the rivers, which swelled into streets and finally into homes – climbing to the first floor, then the second, and then swallowing houses whole. Some said it was the garbage problem. Some said that global warming said hello and delivered a wake-up slap.
Devastation could be seen everywhere.
Cars were on top of each other. A refrigerator posed precariously on electric wires. Snakes were seen slithering in murky streets, along with janitor fishes (plecostomus), stout branches, boulders, sofa sets, television sets, slippers, microorganisms, people. Debris, they say. They belonged to someone, to something, somewhere, once. Helicopters flew the day and the night, looking for survivors, people to rescue. Boats plied what used to be streets. People waded in neck-deep waters, what remained of their possessions hoisted above their heads. Wanting only to escape. To wake up.
And then there are the bodies. 171 and counting, because there are still those who lie uncollected and uncounted. The numbers of the missing continue to rise. Those who lived to tell their tales could only utter with placid acceptance: We are back to zero.
But there is lightness there, there is hope, there is faith. If you look even closer, you can see that they cannot wait to be alive again, to stand again, to start again. After having lost everything. Such is the spirit of the Filipino.
Please help us give them and the Philippines a chance. You can stretch out your hand and be part of the Spirit of Bayanihan. Please send your support to:
- ABS-CBN Telethon Hotlines: 4152272 local 5471 to 5474 #ondoy #manilaflood
- From Demi Moore and Twitter: Typhoon victims in Philippines in dire need of food/clothing. Call the American Red Cross to help. 18004357669
- For North America/Canada donors, please call the ABSCBN Foundation in Redwood: toll free (800)5272820 (via RT @ANDREWdecastro)
- Through Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III: TULONG BAYAN VOLUNTEER HOTLINE: (02)9137122 (Look for Mary, May or Cam)
- For UP students, teachers and alumni, through AKBAYAN, 433-69-33/433-68-31, #ondoy (via @Punzi @ephemere)
- UP College of Law and the UP Law Student Government, through PNB Bank Account Number 393046000019. Please text transaction details to Chris Fernandez at 0917 5320151.
- Manila Waldorf School through Carol 0927-798-5317
- For Pasig residents through Atty. Raymond Pasiliao 0917-5260355
- Alumni and Members of Sigma Kappa Pi Fraternity through Freddie Sarangaya 0920-908-8001
- For the Mandaragat ng Paete through 09154388727 or 09159250783
Much work is to be done. Much help will be appreciated.
To those who volunteered, donated, helped, will help, our heartfelt thanks.
Article by Issa. Art by D. Copyright 2009.
Email: [email protected]