Surviving Ondoy – Hope, Family and God

It’s been like the first day of the year for us, we are starting a new life and a new day after Ondoy crushed here in the Philippines. Thankfully our family is safe; right now we are still in the process of healing the scars Ondoy made when he left. The tragedy made us stronger than ever, and became much closer. From day 1 of the landfall of Ondoy the concern for each other has greatly increased. In my blog post today I will tell the timeline on how up to this day we are still together as a family.

Day 0 Friday – It was pay day! I and my wife are happy cruising’ the aisles in our local grocery store. We are talking about the coming storm. It was already raining then, and it was the sign of it that the rain will never stop.

Day 1 Saturday – Like any other Saturday morning, we are preparing our breakfast and I am preparing myself for office. My mother came with very good news, an invitation from our neighbor in Pasig. I left without worrying about the coming storm. The rain is still pouring, since last night; still we have no idea on the coming tragedy that we will encounter. 10am in the news, Marikina is now flooded. Everybody is still calm about the situation because it was a given fact that Marikina is always flooded. The rain never stopped, this rain is all over the news and the waters in Cainta and Pasig is already rising.

The clock strikes lunch time and the electricity is decreasing power, lights begin to flicker and power surges are frequently occurring. The water is rising outside the office and this is the first time that flood waters reach these streets. The tension arises when the water outside the office is knee deep, the first time ever happened to those streets in the village.

2pm we left the office concerned to the relatives we left, and on how we can go back home. My body is already half submerged in flood waters. I never thought that was just a tip of what is happening outside the village.

We started to walk in flood waters, our feet is chilling in feet and in cold. Disgusted with our situation we have no choice, we do not want to stay in the office no knowing the status of our relatives waiting and worried. As we continue walking we are stunned that many residents already going to a higher and safer place. It is like an exodus in the bible, many of them the waters are already 6-8 feet high, I will be drowned if the water is that high! We continued walking and the scene was so unreal, a few meters from our office our feet is already tired. The water current is very strong that even a football player will be washed away with it.

Flood in Ortigas Extension
Flood in Ortigas Extension

I and my officemates reached the summit! The village gate is waving to us but a bigger challenge is yet to come. People outside is already in foot, people coming from all directions; wet, exhausted and hungry. Now I am on my own, I started walking and still stunned on the situation at hand, startled with what is happening in the world today. Then a familiar face came across my eye, it’s my officemates a relief that I am not alone with this. The current on a nearby creek is very strong the females will not make it. We rested for a while and charge our legs to face a more complicated situation, moving across the current!

4:30pm we decided to walk, the water now is chiller than ever! Our jaws are rambling; we are like woodpeckers as our teeth create friction with one another. The people near the creek are waiting for their turn in the ropes, tied in the trees across the flood current. The females will not make it, they decided to go back and sit on the steps of the nearby club. I and my officemate, a guy, decided to cross the ravaging flood water. As we grasp the rope, we say a little prayer, Lord you are my shield and protector. On the way to the promise land, a few steps more to safety my feet slips and I almost glide in the flood waters.  Luckily, I was able to put my feet back on the ground, safety at last. We walked again, and smiles are the next thing written to our faces, we have conquered it. When I was sliding in the ropes I only saw the rope, my things and flood water, now I saw people walking with us. I saw one man saving the bulk of toasted bread for his kids that almost killed him, and then he smiled with a relief that his kids will not be sad anymore. We reached the safe ground quarter to 6pm of Saturday. I messaged my wife that I am coming home. Then we rest all through the night, safe. Where is my mother? That will be the next question next day.

Day 2 Sunday – Still no report where is my mother, the wrath of Ondoy now is all over the media. Flood waters still covering ortigas, and all exit points to pasig is still not passable. We can do nothing but wait till Monday. We monitored every hour in the news to what happened outside our safe ground.

That night all we can do is pray for their safety.

Day 3 Monday – No message from Pasig that they were safe, communication became scarce that many telecommunication lines were down by the winds and rains of Ondoy. Many already have died in parts of Rizal and mostly in Marikina. We monitored our way to Pasig and Hi ways are now passable including Ortigas.

9 in the morning we set off to Pasig, bringing money, water, cellphone and cellphone credits. Cellphone credits are nowhere to find but in Masinag, so we loaded and prepare ourselves to go to Pasig. The flood has subsided but traffic jam is still heavy. Army trucks are all over the streets, walking is now faster than riding a jeep but we have no choice, we are conserving our energies to evacuate my relatives in Pasig. We reached junction and started walking, no jeep is passing towards Ortigas Extension. We reached Countryside Avenue 10 am and went to my cousins house if ever they have news about my mother and brother. Still they haven’t heard about them since Saturday, so we have to know it for myself first hand.

10:30 am 10 meters away from our house the water is still chest deep.  Me and my wife called for the man made balsa and saw, felt and smelled the horrific results of Ondoy. The “bangkeros” of the balsa are happy as they guide us towards our house. As we sailed the flood waters, many are calling them to pick them after us. Where are the rescuers then? In the news they said that there were enough rubber boats for rescuing people? One woman whispered to one of the bangkeros to pick her lolo and lola who were bed ridden.

It was a smooth and happy ride in the balsa and just seeing my brother and my sister-in-law safe I was relieved and hearing the voice of my mother is a blessing, they were all safe. Then the next action became very fast, they prepare for evacuation. They prepared all of their stuff to go to a drier place to stay in. All set, we all walked in a chest-deep flood on the streets of our village, first stop in the house of my sister-in-law. Even though we are all exhausted in all of the events, we pursue to get out of the place and gather more strength as we wait until the floods subsided. As we reached my sister-in-law’s place they settled their things and we headed to my mother-in-law’s place. As we walk to junction I saw in Ever Gotesco Ortigas the rubber boats just sitting to dry up, But there are still stranded wanted to go somewhere safe! As my mother tell the story of the many lives she saw on the way home, I just can’t help but wonder? Why are they just sitting on a mall while many families are still stranded in the flood?

Then the story ends in here in antipolo as my father arrived from Saudi we are still in flood waters in Pasig and offic

Flooded Pasig
Flooded Pasig

ials do not care about the pitch black water that still hanging in the streets outside our village. We are currently in the rehabilitation of the whole place just starting to get dirty to clean up the mess that Ondoy made.

Lessons learned? Do not rely on the government help! Just keep yourselves together and pray for the better tomorrow.


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