Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Remembering The Disaster That Was

If you were in the Philippines in September 2009 then you would know of the great disaster that took everyone by surprise. It is a typhoon named Ondoy. Many lives and properties were lost due to this calamity and as I look back on the damages, the past reports, the stories, second hand accounts and so on, I realize how much time has passed since it happened last. Ondoy did catch everyone off guard. Nobody knew that the non-stop not so heavy rain pour for days would cause floods of massive proportions. It wasn't long before the water started rising and there was nowhere else left to go. So many people didn't want to leave their houses, their properties as well as their things which is most of them tried to find shelter somewhere near their place which ultimately led them to being stranded. Some people on the other hand braved the water and brought their loved ones as well as some things that they might need in order to find a safer place to stay. Nobody knew it was coming and nobody was prepared. In this kind of calamity it showed us that whether you are rich or poor, you willl still end up being affected by it. This kind of disaster is something bigger than all of us combined. It might Mother Nature's way of lashing out on us as well for being so careless of the world we live in.

Me, my parents (both 50 somethings but my Dad works abroad so he wasn't there when Ondoy hit our country) and my younger sister who has mild cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair used to live in Youngstown Village, Cainta. We moved to Mission Hills, Antipolo either on the same year or a year before Ondoy actually happened. I was stuck at work when it did and being in Ortigas, Pasig City, I didn't know what was going on outside. I only found out what was going on when my mother told me to stay in the office and not go home since all the roads are heavily flooded. I immediately went to our pantry and saw some of my co-workers watching the news. I saw the live coverage of the flood in different places and I recognized some places along Pasig and Cainta that made me realize how serious this was. I immediately asked my mother if they were alright and if the flood did not reach our new house. Luckily for us, our new house wasn't affected. My mom was also able to fetch my aunts, my grandmother and my cousin from Angono, Rizal knowing that it is prone for both floods and landslides. They all stayed in my home as I constantly sent them messages to say that I am okay and that I will come home as soon as the flood's water level becomes lesser and the roads become passable again. 

Unfortunately, I had to endure being at work for another night as the roads only became passable again by Monday morning. As the jeepney I was riding into passed by Cainta, I was shocked to see that there were so many unusual things that you would see on the road. There were cars that were flipped upside down, some people gathering their things and there was mud everywhere. I felt like I was in a post apocalyptic world or better yet in a war zone. There was chaos everywhere. I was glad to be able to get home that morning. As I tuned in on the news, I realized how many people lost their lives, their properties and most of all, their things in the said calamity. I said a silent prayer for all of them. I was overwhelmed by the different situations everybody had to be in and I wished I was a superhero somehow in order to rescue those in need however I wasn't. So, I merely stood and watched. Sending relief goods and sending out prayers were the only things that me and my family were able to do. I cringed at the thought of me and my family being stuck in our home in Cainta if we actually still lived there when it happened. I probably would not have forgiven myself for being at work when my family needed me most. I guess we were just lucky to have survived it all but I know that not a lot of people were as fortunate as we were. I had friends and relatives that I had to make sure were safe after the incident. I was just glad that all of them were okay. 

So, why am I remembering Ondoy now anyway? Sure, it happened years ago but that doesn't mean that we should go about forgetting about it. I may not be sure if such a thing would happen again anytime soon but I think it would be better to be vigilant as well. Maybe God is trying to tell us to change or maybe Mother Nature is trying to tell us to take care of our surroundings better, we don't really know. But I know that mankind still has hope of becoming united when we are all faced with great challenges such as these. The Philippines might not have been 100 percent ready for Ondoy but at least it tried to do what it could to save those who were affected. It's 2011 now and we have survived while some have lived to tell their tales of bravery or fear, others will go on living remembering what they had lost and never wanting to live the nightmare all over again. Our lives are short, that is a fact so we might as well do what we can to make our lives better while we still can. Let's just hope and pray that our country will be spared the next time something like Ondoy ever hits the Philippines again but if it does happen, let's make sure to be more prepared this time. This goes out not only to those who are in high positions in government sects or agencies out there but also to us, simple individuals, who should do everything to survive. Ondoy was indeed a tragedy that willl forever be etched in the minds and hearts of those who were here in the country when it happened. Let it serve as lesson to us all.

It has been two years since Ondoy hit our country. 
What have we learned from then?

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