Ondoy Outrage.

Last Saturday, I experienced what must have been the craziest day of my life.

It was competition day. Maximum Groovity, the annual inter school dance competition, had finally come. I’ve spent two whole months preparing for our competing piece, so naturally, you would expect me to look forward to this day.

I woke up late that morning, tired from the Rhythm-in-Blue concert hosted by the Company of Ateneo Dancers, of which I am an active member of, the night before. I went down the kitchen to tell my driver, Morrie, that I needed to go to school and meet my teammates. We were scheduled to meet at school for lunch and go to the venue of the competition together to make the 2:30 PM call time. Morrie, however, was still in the shower, so I went back to my room and told my cook, Lita, to call me when he was finished. The winds were getting stronger and stronger then. I could only see white fog and the raging winds outside my window. The rain always scared me, and I silently wished for it to stop.

While waiting for Morrie, I went on Skype to talk to my family back in Cebu. I showed them how strong the rain was getting through my webcam and told them how frightened it made me. I told them how excited I was for the competition that night, and how sad I was that they could not be with me to watch it. After a few minutes, Lita came in my room and asked me if we should turn off the circuit breaker. The rain was starting to flood over it, and she was afraid that it might cause even bigger problems afterwards. After hearing that, I quickly ended my Skype conversation and went down stairs to check it out. When i opened the main door, I was shocked to see Morrie waist deep in water, trying to push the gate open. Who was I kidding? I couldn’t leave the house in weather like that, competition or no competition.

The water just kept rising up. In about 10 minutes, the water creeped into the house and rose from ankle level to hip level. I was in a state of panic. I called my dad and he told me to salvage whatever I could. I tried to carry two refrigerators up the stairs with a sprained foot. Talk about adrenaline! Lita was helping us rush the things up the stairs when she suddenly gave a small yelp. All the floating furniture and broken glass that came with it sliced her toe. I had to rush her up to my room and remedy her wound with undeniable amounts of teramicin and band aid. I told her to stay upstairs and rest while we finished carrying up everything we could, but she was so ashamed to be sitting in my chair doing nothing that she frantically paced around, which led to a whole lot of blood on the floor of my room. She kept saying “Mor! Akong butang!” (Mor, my things!) Apparently, she wanted to save her ATM because she thought that losing it meant losing all her money. Morrie and I saved what we could: my late grandmother’s photo albums, our old karaoke machine and my mom’s favorite vase, but the water wouldn’t let up, and we just could not keep swimming any more.
It came to a point where both my cars were completely submerged underwater, and the gate of my house showed only about 6 inches of its head. All the furniture was floating to the ceiling, and if i went down the stairs, I’d be a goner. We waited for around 4 hours before the water slowly subsided back to knee level. It might not seem too long, but the wait was excruciating. I didn’t even realize that I hadn’t eaten anything since the night before. I prayed the rosary and the entire prayer book hoping for the rain to stop. Thankfully the water is gone now.
I’m very lucky. Yes, the long awaited competition didn’t take place; yes, most of my house is destroyed; and yes, both my cars are most probably junked. However, my little tale can not compare to those whose families who completely lost everything they’ve worked so hard for. Thousands of families are now homeless, hundreds of people are missing, and up until now, some of them are still on their rooftops, waiting to be rescued.

So what now? How do we get out of a crisis like this? The question that most of us must be asking is what CAN we do? What ARE we doing?

EVERYONE, please. If you have time and some extra things to donate…

Let’s go Philippines, mobilize! If the world doesn’t care, we have to at least be here for each other.