Flood memories

This morning I was just worried about a leaky roof and homeless kids. now a lot of people, rich or poor are affected by Ondoy.”My Facebook status, September 26, 2009.

If others have lost everything, what you have is definitely more.” – One of my recent OOB.

Photo by: Dennis Barbaira

One of the shots during typhoon Ondoy. Photo by: Dennis Barbaira

Why do I help? The truth is, I’m quite surprised with my own actions lately because right after the news updates about the damages made by typhoon Ondoy came out of Twitter, Facebook and on TV, something in me kicked in like an adrenalin rush. All of a sudden I became uneasy, felt pity towards the victims and immediately I felt the need to do something about it. Ah, I now remember. It must be about my experience in 2006 when typhoon Milenyo hit the country where I personally witnessed the destructive capacity of a flash flood and the emotional impact it brought to those affected – my in-laws. 

Although my wife and I were not in Batangas when it actually happened (I was at work during that time), we came to help the very next day after wind and rain abated. Although I was so eager to help that time, I however wasn’t prepared enough at the sight of Milenyo’s aftermath. As soon as we arrived in Sto. Tomas, I saw that the whole area going to my wife’s place was covered with almost knee-deep mud that we had to leave our car beside the highway and had to walk barefoot for several meters to their house. Upon reaching their place, the extent of the damage became more apparent. More brownish mud covered assorted things that were piled outside, some of which were for cleaning but most of it already deemed useless and for disposal. Inside, flood marks are still visible on the the wall and the floor of their whole house still obviously muddy and the clean-up of their flooded basement still on-going.




from top left: basement, still a couple of feet deep. another room about to be cleaned. things to be cleaned & sorted. a relative looking at what was left from the flood.

Pics from the Milenyo aftermath. From top left: Basement, still a couple of feet deep. Another room about to be cleaned. Things to be cleaned & sorted. A relative looking at what was left from the flood.



In no time, I joined the backbreaking task of manually scooping the water out of the house by passing bucket after bucket to my brother-in-laws who have been doing the same thing for almost a day already after the water stopped rising and receded. The only time we took a well-deserved break was during lunch which was also when I get to hear startling details of how everything happened almost at an instant. They said that water from the nearby creek overflowed and reached their house at a very fast rate that my in-laws and their neighbors were caught unguarded. My mother-in-law added that within a few hours, muddy water forced its way inside the house, sweeping away appliances, clothing, food, important documents and precious photos. The only good thing she said was that the flood occurred when it was still daytime. If it were during night time, it could have been an entirely different story with a very high chance of a deadly outcome.

We went home in the afternoon on that same day as there’s just no place to take decent sleep as everything inside the house is still in total disarray plus the fact that power is out, food is limited and sanitation is very poor. Back at home that night I slept dead tired but I did little complaining as I know my in-laws were feeling a lot more than just body aches.

So with the recent wrath that Ondoy made, everything seems to haunt me back even if our place in Cavite, and thankfully, this time including my in-laws’, was once again spared. And with the experience I had in Batangas still fresh in my mind, I now immediately recognize the desperation and helplessness of those affected by what our weather bureau, PAG-ASA, says as a record rainfall for our country in 40 years. I now feel and understand what these victims are feeling and I’d be guilt-stricken if I’d just sit down and watch the news as it is broadcasted on TV. This time I know that I have to act. This time I know I have to help…just like the rest of the kind-hearted Filipino (and even those abroad) people.


Photo credit: Dennis Barbaira


Mood: 3/10 Honks! (happy that more people are helping)



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