What would you feel if you slept at three in the morning only to be awaken at eight forty-five with the announcement, “Umabot na po sa critical level ang La Mesa Dam. Maghanda-handa kayo. Maraming salamat po.”
My sister and I woke up in a snap. We were really lost. Actually, we were one of the unfortunate victims of the infamous typhoon Ketsana or locally known as typhoon Ondoy. It submerged our apartment-type home with water reaching my neck…on our second floor. The six-hour rain brought by that typhoon equaled a month worth of rain which is enough to make all dams and rivers nearby spill over the Tullahan River which was just in front of our house. But with my then 17-year stay in our abode, we never experience such tragedy. Heck, we never experience flood until that painful 26th of September 2009. Less than two years after, here comes another typhoon named Meari or locally known as Falcon.
Honestly, we were all puzzled on what are we going to do in our house especially my sister and I. During the typhoon Ondoy, we were both absent in our home. I was with my father because I had classes in the morning and he has to go to a funeral service of his cousin who died abroad. We both didn’t reach our destination because of the humungous rainfall of that typhoon that even if our windshield wipers are moving like crazy, Daddy still has very little visibility on the streets and we reached SM North EDSA instead and stayed there until the nine in the evening. My sister has a little sideline in a review center for high school students who want to aim a good school for college and thus she stayed there until we fetched her that night. Hence, three people remained at our house—my mother, my brother and our house helper—that stayed on the roofs with our neighbors for seven to nine hours bringing almost nothing with them.
My mother did not take any chances and started putting her important documents and paraphernalia on the highest places of our house. I did the same too but I was so unsure with what is going to happen. She also called up our uncle in West Fairview to fetch our Suzuki APV (nicknamed ‘Doraemon’ because it was colored blue and it was two-toned with white) which was severely damage by the typhoon Ondoy’s flood and debris. Believe it our not, our beloved Doraemon were only returned May 10 of this year. It was a long story and it even involved an administrative case with Department of Trade and Industry against the company who was fixing it so we wouldn’t want it to suffer shortly after arriving home a month ago so it’s the priority. Anyway, my sister followed me in placing our things in higher places while amazingly, my brother and our house helper are not worried at all.
“Hindi na mauulit yan,” my brother quipped as he surf channels on our television.
Suddenly, strong gushes of wind blew together with the falling of those infuriated raindrops. My mind was spinning. Is this serious? I looked down our marbled floor and recalled how it was veiled with inches of reeking muck which was initially impossible to remove because of its thickness. I also remembered how our house looked at that time. It was as if an ogre picked it up, shook it uncontrollably, placed soil inside, dipped it in the sea and returned it to its original place but buried the front part of it with debris. Everything was a mess. Everything was stinking. Everything was broken including our hearts.
It’s not mainly because you lost a lot of things because of the typhoon but it’s more of you lost a sense of security. Your house where you feel you are most protected, secured and comfortable was suddenly ruined. You don’t know where to go anymore. Nothing felt safe in this world. That’s when I realized the importance of a home to a person. It doesn’t matter how you sucked on your daily recitation in school or how your boss cursed you for incompetency in work or how many hours you spent on traffic that day because of flash floods or on-going repair or vehicles clashing on the main roads as long as you reach your house, your little kingdom, safely.
We had no place to stay but our uncle’s place in West Fairview. They live practically on a mansion so we were welcomed there. But it’s still more at ease eating on your own dining table even if it’s smaller and sleeping on your own bed even if the bed is comfier. It took us five whole weeks before I slept on our house again. That was the longest time that I’ve been away from our abode but it couldn’t be helped. Our house needed major repairs.
“Tumaas na po muli ang tubig sa La Mesa Dam. 80 po ang limit at ngayon nasa 92 na. Wag po tayo magpakakampante.”
I snapped back to the present after hearing the next announcement which came after the first one. I hurriedly took a bath, packed our things, lifted the television downstairs up to our room and prayed. I called our uncle’s driver again to pick us up to their house.
Well, to make the long story short, the announcement was exaggerated. La Mesa Dam did overflow but it didn’t even reached 85 meters. But I’m not angry with them. Prevention is better than cure and Falcon is so unpredictable. The rainfall varied from time to time. Sometimes, we already felt relaxed for not having rain for an hour then we would realized that we spoke too soon as the rain plummet down tirelessly.
But I guess Falcon is not meant to be another Ondoy. Falcon is a mere warning from Mother Nature that we must continue our mutual vow after Ondoy on cleaning up our environment, improving our greenery and recycling which most of us have failed to do.
It’s a joint obligation that ALL of us must do. By this, we could see how people are connected in one way or another. We must also be ready at any time there is a typhoon brewing after all, our world is our shared home that we must always protect and appreciate. Thank God for sparing us this time but now let us do our part.
What have we done to the world? Look what we’ve done.
Did you ever stop to notice the crying Earth the weeping shores?
—Earth Song by Michael Jackson.
How appropriate. Your legend and song lives on.