Where were you a few weeks ago? When the rains started pouring Friday night, kept going ’til well into Saturday, at first enjoying the steady rhythm of raindrops lulling us to sleep and then, eventually realizing something was wrong because panicked reports on Facebook, Twitter and TV, shared accounts through text and phone calls were streaming in, quickly growing in number and urgency?
No idea what I’m talking about? Well:
A few weeks ago, Typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) happened to Metro Manila and nearby areas. It took some time to recognize the fact that it was worse than it looked from where we were. Our place is apparently immune to floods, being so high up. And there were none of the usual ominous winds, like Milenyo, another huge storm back in 2006. But what it lacked in winds, it made up for in amount of rainfall — massive amounts of rainfall. Water was falling from the sky, and for a while there, it didn’t seem like it was going to run out. There were floods in places that were never flooded before, as a result, and floods well beyond the height of a tall person occurred where only ankle high floods were almost part of the norm.
Less than a week after (Was it? Somebody correct me. I’ve lost all sense of time since Ondoy), Pepeng (international name: Parma), a storm with much stronger winds and what looked to be about as much rainfall as the last storm, decided to pay our northern neighboring regions a visit. It wasn’t even satisfied with passing through just once. It went back TWO more times! I, like most other people, I’m sure, didn’t even know it was possible for typhoons to make u-turns like that.
Because of the tag-team typhoons, people lost belongings, cars, pets, entire houses, and in some cases, their own lives. People were stranded on rooftops for days on end, because that was the only part of their houses not submerged in floodwater. Later, there were landslides, burying houses, or people alive. People needed food. People needed rescuing. People needed people to help them get back up again — literally, figuratively, financially, emotionally.
It was sad. It was crazy. It was frustrating!
I took to calling Mother Nature a bitch, and these typhoons her way of playing cruel games on our archipelago.
The weeks after the first storm hit, everybody rushed to help at the volunteer and relief centers set up by various organizations. Everybody gave away whatever it was that they could, including their time, strength, their own money, too. And I am so proud of my friends, old & new, for letting this be — no, making this — the center of their lives for the time being. For the first time in my life, I’d actually witnessed selflessness where I never thought I’d see it. Bayanihan was the word of the season.
It was brilliant, really. Volunteers seemed unwavering and donations seemed limitless, but what this was was just a temporary cure — first aid to a cancer that’s been spreading since time immemorial with little to no treatment. The amount of garbage, piled up from years and years of waste, was blocking irrigation systems, sewage lines and drainage. That was half the reason. The other half was, surprisingly apt for Blog Action Day, climate change. Rainfall was literally recordbreaking. This change would have also been caused by other forms of environmental negligence — like really bad accumulated air pollution.
After all this, 2012 sounds too close to reality for comfort.
Now, another storm is coming. And this time, I guess because Mother Nature decided she’s hurt Luzon enough, it’s bound for way down south (i.e. the rest of the country), in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. I’m hoping everyone’s just a little paranoid by the last storms and it won’t actually turn out to be as bad as everyone thinks it will be.
And most importantly — excuse the preachiness — I really hope that we know not to take Mother Earth for granted, now that Nature’s showed us what seemed to be the worst of her wrath.