Presently, tropical storm ‘Mario’ is flooding the streets of Manila and other Regions of the Philippines. Typhoon season is no fun guys, especially if your area is prone to flood water. Flood is more like the snow counterpart of the tropical countries. You kind of hate it but you have to deal with it. You prepare for it as much as you can but you can’t really anticipate the amount that you’re going to have to deal with.
As I watch the updates on the typhoon, and watch flood water rise and swallow vehicles whole, it brings back sooo many memories. Memories of me braving the storm, like literally walking the streets while trees and street lights go down from the strong winds. It’s like being in the movies, only less intense, because lack of intense background music. Memories of me going home, soaking wet, and even with the signal#3 advisory, you still have to report to work, well because your bosses is being pressured by their bosses, who do not live in the Philippines, to report to work or else they are going to have to let go of some people. I don’t know, that may not be as accurate. But it is true that people – especially if they work at a call center – is obligated to go to work, which sparks genius meme’s such as this:
The other day, I had a conversation with one of my internet friends. John, who lives in Indianopolis was kind of shocked when I told him that in the Philippines we wade through waste high rain water and I told him how normal that is. And it is a normal thing, especially if your area has to deal with the same amount of rain water time after time a typhoon hits. And this is, to not at all, downplay the dangers of a typhoon. It is dangerous. And it doesn’t matter how high the rain water gets. Apart from the flood, we have to deal with neck breaking winds and brave the streets as drivers drive through the pelting rain.
But as a nature of Filipinos, we do try to make the most out of everything. We re-use ice cream containers, not because of recycling, not because we ran out of plastic containers, we just re-use it simply out of principle. One of the most worn out phrases in our language is, “Huwag! Sayang naman!” or loosely translated to, “Don’t waste that!” And even in the middle of a raging typhoon, we uphold to this principle. We are Filipinos goddamnit!!
I’ve had my fair share of braving through a storm. The most intense was when typhoon Ondoy hit. It was the second most devastating tropical cyclone in the 2009 Pacific typhoon season.
I just finished a grueling 8 hour shift in the school hospital. Those that lived a long distance from the hospital was advised to go home but since I had a friend who has an apartment in front of the school, I wasn’t too worried.
By the time I left the hospital, every student was either fighting their way to ride the few remaining jeepneys that are still commuting or finding shelter in the nearest eatery where they can buy cheap brandy and sing karaoke. I know, we are not the best in times of crisis.
I however, was desperate to go home and get myself in some dry pajamas and with the notice that I don’t have to report the next day, I am looking forward to a good long sleep. When I woke up, few of my friends were there, looking out the window, exclaiming and taking pictures of the streets below. When I finally got up, I saw our school entrance completely submerged in flood water. People have to literally dive under to get in (because some left their cars and other buildings in within the school vicinity) like they are entering the lost city of Atlantis.
One of the worst things that can happen to you during a storm is to not have food. You don’t know when you can go outside and even if you can, stores may be closed. And the few stores that decide to open would have already ran out with the good stuff. So you tend to get kind of desperate.
Once we’re brave enough to see the damage from the outside, we wade through knee high rain water. One of us had to get cellphone credits and I’m just praying for an open McDonalds.
Rain kept coming and going, completely undetermined when it’s going to stop and when it’s going to start back again. By night time the electricity was out, more of as a precaution than anything because several posts were down and the electricity wires are swimming in the water.
The streets were completely vehicle free and if there were, most of them were abandoned because it got stranded in the flood. People in the area have started to come out. Most of the flood water are now rushing down the places lower than the main street.
Everyone started to take pictures. Because that is what Filipinos do! (We are Filipinos goddamnit!) Some people took it upon themselves to set up a place for break dancing in the middle of the street. I think I started the dance party to be completely honest, and I swear I was not drunk during the time this happened.
Typhoon season, in any place, can be a bitch. It’s an inconvenience and a death trap. Even though this post, along with the pictures, are meant to be light-hearted, I cannot stress enough the importance of being prepared and staying safe indoors. Any type of extreme weather is a nuisance and it’s also something that we have to deal with, unfortunately.
To everyone back home, stay safe. If you’re already at work, please don’t risk going home and vice versa. Let’s all strive to better our level of preparedness every year. Stock up on good food!! Or stay inside a McDonalds! Charge up your portable DVD players and marathon the season 3 of Downton Abbey or watch re-runs of Lost. Better yet, take the time out from the internet and technology and have a discussion about what that string theory is all about.
Stay dry everyone!