(Reposted from Multiply)

Many thanks: Recovering from the storm and preparing for the next one

Oct 26, '09 3:25 PM
for everyone

Today marks the first month since Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) hit us. The cleanup plus the moments when we race with time due to the intermittent power supply are totally exhausting, and yet these are favorable signs that say we are finally moving on amidst the ruins of the storm (photos below).

Our neighborhood is recovering from the disaster and for that I am thankful. But my heart goes out to many of our people who have lost not only their homes but also their families. I wanted to tell friends who asked me if there was anything I needed to give instead to these families through our local agencies receiving donations. But I admit that I've become apprehensive to tell them this, as reports circulated concerning local agencies hoarding the relief goods intended for typhoon victims. Add to that familiar reports on politicians who wouldn't distribute relief goods unless their acts of kindness had media coverage.

What's the implication of all these? The Holy Bible is clear in saying, "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act" (Proverbs 3:27).

Could it be that we remain poor as a nation because we are incapable of handling bountiful blessings that come our way? I hear people say that the main problem of our country is the lack of education. But I wonder, how much education does one need to learn to uphold integrity even when no one's looking?

Incubation period. Nearly 20 days after the storm, I began monitoring myself for symptoms of leptospirosis. I had fever, coupled with migraine and body pains the past few days. But these were perhaps signs of fatigue due to the busy cleanup after wading through the flood. The good thing is that I feel better now. I must be well. The hospitals here are still full!

A message of thanks. This is a late post. But I take this opportunity to thank everyone who had expressed their concern and support for me and our family during and after Typhoon Ondoy:

Cheli and Roland Aguilar together with their family and friends for rescuing us, for lending us dry clothes, and for sharing with us their home with another family they rescued through the night of the storm. With these families were four stressed-out dogs that they also welcomed, fed, and sheltered in their home. We're likewise grateful for their extended kindness in bringing us food for lunch the following cleanup day. 

Emy dela Rosa, our lady cleaner (her photo below) who showed up in the house just to check on us. It wasn't even her cleaning day but she gladly helped in the cleanup, almost daily right after the storm.

'Mother' Rebing Buhian, our 'wardrobe custodian' for over 15 years, for washing the fabrics soaked in the flood and for lovingly washing some of them again when our washing did not pass her standard! Mother also helped in the cleanup. Oh, what a relief to have her and Emy around!

My sister Manang Sol and my brother-in-law Raj, with our two adorable nieces for adopting us the following days after Typhoon Ondoy and during Typhoon Pepeng (Parma). We're grateful for Raj's driving us to and from Alabang in spite of his aching back. It certainly was a pleasure to meet his visiting mother Patty and sister Sanggita from India, even during this troubled time in our country.
Tita Lelot Arce for constantly monitoring us, praying for us, and extending to us the much-needed help for the repairs of the damages.

Elvs Hermano for the days of braving the heavy traffic to help in the cleanup and to cook for us real food! How we missed home-cooked meals!

Nenet dela Cruz and Moon Manrique for the visit and for the 'comfort food'--roast chicken, bangus relleno (stuffed milk fish--a sure first winner!!!), a box of chocolates (a second placer this time!!!)--blankets, towels, and more. 

Nina Endencia for the visit, clothes pegs, 'comfort food' (we're so touched, she cooked for us when normally she wouldn't), powdered laundry soap, and others.

Ma'am Sonia Araneta (Manang Teya's boss) and M'Teya's colleagues for the visit, for bringing us pandisal (bread) and coco jam (photos below)--we enjoyed them so much!!!--for washing our three bin bags of flood-drenched laundry, and for praying for us.

My official receipt printer, Dino Paz, who had been likewise devastated by the flood but managed to save two of my O.R. booklets.

My brother Manong Alex for coming home to join us at this time, taking charge of the auto repairs; Mang Mayo and company of the Mayo Auto Repair Shop for the guaranteed repair service of our father's 26-year-old car.

My dear colleagues, friends, and relatives who extended their concern: Vicky Ado, Mira Alvarez, Ants Fugoso, Paul Garton, Rovie Olaya, Myra Lazarte-Orozco, Jo Pablo, Ana Gaceta-Payson, and Rene Tanoy, among many others. 

My listmates from the Editorial Freelancers Association who took the time to check on me: Mark Farrell, Christine Hunt, and Katharine O'Moore-Klopf; also Barbara Curialle, Kristine Hunt, Nancy Reinhardt, Patricia L. Van Horn, Sandy Young, and others who have expressed similar concern for me and our family.

For last Wednesday's special home delivery, Ma'am Hilda Abola (M'Teya's boss) for her generosity in providing us Uratex mattresses.

And above all, Jesus Christ--my Personal Lord and Savior--for everything...

I am certain that this list continues, with my siblings and father thanking numerous people as well.

Thank you, all of you...


On September 26, 2009, around 8:28 a.m., I was writing a prayer to the Lord Jesus, telling Him about the rains that many people hoped to be less frequent, now that Christmas season is fast approaching. The conversation was interrupted when my eyes caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a damage: our neighbor's roofing badly needed repair. I hoped not to meddle in other people's business, but I requested the LORD to grant our neighbor the budget for both the repair and renovation of their home. I was clueless that later on, I would be praying for the same thing not only for our family but also for our neighbors, our city, our country, and other neighboring countries that similarly experienced disasters in overwhelming magnitude.

In a short while, my sister Grace alerted me; the flood was seeping into our house...

Shatzie stays outside but we let her in when the flood began to rise and pour in the house. What seemed to be days to accumulate the knee-deep flood that entered our home in August 1999, just took a few hours of downpour to submerge houses within over 20 feet deep of floodwaters this time.

Lunch time! Manang Grace in the dining area. This must be one of those times when I couldn't taste the food.

"Shatzie, food!" Some would call her a spoiled dog. But during this stressful time, it was certainly best to hand feed her. Still, she would catch her food that slipped into the floodwater.

My home office. I was still able to pull out my books underneath the computer, but they dove into the flood as well.

Oh, Shatzie... Are you okay?

"With [Jesus] Christ in my vessel I can smile at the storm... / until He takes me home."

We'll be okay, Shatzie baby.

Oh, Manong Alex, so sorry. We couldn't lift the boxes on top of the sofa bed. We tried to elevate as much as we could. Without a second floor in the house, we just left the rest afloat in the flood.

Disheartening... but a sense of how other people might be struggling for their last breath helped hold back the tears.

Our parents' 40-year-old home...

That wooden table was our late Uncle Romy's carved masterpiece, now afloat in the flood.

But what's most important at any time is the safety of our loved ones.

With me at the time were my dad, who would celebrate his 80th birthday on September 30, 2009, and Manang Grace, the sole OB-gyne oncologist of Marikina City.

M'Teya, who was stranded and sheltered in the office that day, was already in tears but managed to constantly coordinate with Cheli (Aguilar), who rescued us and sheltered us in their home the night of the storm. Meantime, M'Teya instructed us to secure ourselves with the life vests which got stuck in the submerged and collapsed cabinet at the back of the house.

We kept telling Pa to stop moving around and to just stay on top of the sink. But he continued to search for things to at least place on the piano. He spotted the phonograph and a treasured set of long-playing albums that he collected with Mama.

Shatzie is a heavy dog. I hope it didn't hurt her as I struggled to place her on the sofa where the floodwater had to be scooped out to keep her from having hypothermia.

Checking on Shatzie... She was okay but whimpering.

Hours later, M'Grace and I went outside to check the option of climbing the roof, in case the flood continued to rise. The strong winds indicated that going on the rooftop was equally unsafe and so was wading through the flood. But we had to evacuate the house immediately.

The hallway leading to the bedrooms was already slippery with scattered pieces of paper
swept into the flood.

We forgot something--the main power switch was left on until the power was shut off late in the afternoon...
God was really good, and He still is, all the time.

Shatzie shouldn't stay too long on that sofa filled with floodwater.

And so Papa assembled a 'higher ground' for Shatzie, now in life vest and still whimpering.

Papa overseeing everything--almost.

Thumbs up! This is the man who won our mother's heart, of course. Mama later relayed to us that she was initially worried about even considering Papa because he usually donned an all-white attire whenever they would meet. Good thing he changed his fashion sense after they married--with all this flood coming!

Shatzie wiggled out of the life vest and realized she could swim!

Shatzie: You okay back there?

Papa was insistent in staying home, a decision I couldn't contend with. Definitely, we wouldn't leave him behind. At last, he yielded to leave his home awhile when M'Grace cried. So we left, at least for the night and for the storm and floodwater to subside.

We're now on our way to meet up with Cheli along upper Molave Street, corner Russet Street.

Floodwater on the road was nearly chest deep.

Go Shatzie, go!

Our neiborhood. "See you tomorrow neighbors."

It was a good thing that one of our neighbors reconstructed their second floor that sheltered three families in our street during Typhoon Ondoy. We learned afterwards that the third family, a father and son, already bade each other goodbye. Thank God, our beloved neighbors remembered and rescued them!

At this point, we discovered that M'Grace's car has a special function where the window beside the driver's seat automatically pulls down to enable the driver to get off the car when it sinks in deep water. The one thing required is that the driver should know how to swim! With hundreds of cars soaked in deep flood, M'Grace's car is number 37 on queue along with similar automobile brand at the auto repair shop. Most probably, it's ready for pick up in a few months. Auto repair shops throughout the city and nearby places have skyrocketed in revenues--unusual but a blessing, indeed!

We're now nearing a higher ground, a place for rest.

But we didn't sleep. We couldn't... My mind lingered at the thought of everything afloat in the house. Pa would turn on his flashlight to check the time, almost every 30 minutes. Shatzie kept barking, while M'Grace listened to her. We literally waited for the sun to shine again.

The next day...

We're going home...

Where do we start the cleanup?

The first cabinet of our parents as newlyweds back in 1963.

How timely it was to be greeted by Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms" lying on the flooded kitchen floor--a floating journey from M'Grace's bookshelf in the bedroom.

An evening with my darling niece Rama, the time we relocated in their home in Alabang. On photo, Shatzie awaits her piece of bread.

Checking on Mr. and Mrs. Orozco, Myra Lazarte-Orozco's parents-in-law at Gold St., few streets from ours, after the storm (October 4, 2009).


Mama Nila and Mr. Orozco also stayed on top of the sink during the flood.

Exhausted but beaming parents of Joey Orozco, Myra's hubby.

Back home, clothes line everywhere to let things dry before they get molds.

Goodbye to many things, hello to plastic bins.

Good morning, M'Teya and Papa! Ten days after the storm.

This must be our first 'real' breakfast after the storm: pandisal with coco jam from Ma'am Sonia, balut, fried fish, cucumber salad, corn soup, and orange slices, plus brewed coffee on the side.

My work buddy, recovering...

Hoping the CPU would be safe here and it was!

Hmmm... let's skip this one...

Depressed Shatzie, in the midst of 'chaos.'

In preparation for the next storm, I've now labeled the connecting wires and freed them from intertwining with each other. I hope that by doing that, I could easily pull out everything in the next flood!

I took a break one day and went window shopping. I spotted this lovely living room set called Tindalo Bilog from Abubot at SM MegaMall. I dreamed of buying them but my father said they're too bulky for our [small] house (Jeff, the store manager, looks on). So, goodbye Tindalo...

I also wanted to buy this for Papa, but he said that would make him old.
Goodbye too rocking chair...

My next stop was TCA at the Cyberzone and spotted this Acer desktop with a CPU that is a lot smaller than the one I struggled to pull out during the flood(!). The 20-inch flat-screen monitor seemed to yell, "Buy me!!!" It's lovely to look at but my PC at home is just three years old and only needs minimal repair. Then it's ready to work again! Goodbye, Acer...

The recent storm is a screaming reminder that says we don't need much in order for us to live this life.

My first Tagalog Bible is drying up! Yehey!

And so are M'Grace's pocket books on top of her bed.

This is Emy, relocating the books outside so the bed gets cleaned and used by M'Grace.

Pa is repairing the cupboards, third week after the storm.

We're recovering... (October 14, 2009).

The birth certificates and other documents are still on top of the piano... in preparation for the next flood? Maybe...

On our way to relocating in Alabang

This same time last year, I was still able to do my assignment in our documentary class under Prof. Roehl Jamon: a three-minute city symphony. Mine then was of course about Marikina City, my home city, which was at that time considered the cleanest in Metro Manila.

But that changed the next day after Typhoon Ondoy hit us.

Three weeks after Typhoon Ondoy

Marikina City and its people are moving on.

Back to work...

Back to school...

(Sta. Elena High School served as an evacuation center for the typhoon victims. Thanks to the Philippine Air Force together with the city firemen for cleaning up the school area in time for resuming classes after the storm.)

"Bangon Marikina, kaya natin ito! (Arise, Marikina. We can do this!)"
--City Government of Marikina