Kailan ka pupunta dito? Sis texted me from Provident Village. This was before the Big Flood.  I spent a lot of my weekends in the Village but at that time I haven’t been there for over a month, that’s why she was texting me.  I had been too busy at work and needed my weekends to unwind at my own home and be alone – that was why I haven’t visited them at the rented house they were staying in.

Saka na. Di naman aalis yang bahay dyan e, I replied.

Then a week later, Typhoon Ondoy came.

Well, you could imagine my regret.  Ayan tuloy. Di ka na makakadalaw uli – kahit kelan Sis laughingly scolded me.

Sis and Doc have decided to abandon Provident and are staying over at Doc’s family’s house.  The house at Provident – post-Ondoy – reeked of stench (real or imagined) from the putrid mud no matter how much they scrubbed it clean.  In fairness to the brave residents who chose to stay, the village had indeed been washed, cleaned and repaired.  However, even so, there is said to be this gloomy and tragic sentiment lingering in the air – of a haunting allusion of grief and frustration, heavy feeling of sadness, and memories of misery and destruction.  It was even worst at night. And then there is this nagging fear: for how long will one be safe and what if the nightmare happens again – and again?

Provident Village was one of the worst-hit areas when the heavy rains of Ondoy came down. Most of the village is nearest to the Marikina river – nestling dangerously inside its U-shaped path (at right)- thus, the village gets easily inundated once it overflows.

(pic courtesy of Google Maps)

I do miss Provident.  We ALL do. Despite the poor location, it is quite ideally and conveniently located near all the major areas of urban living necessities– the malls, schools and universities in Katipunan, the markets, the church, the tiangges, the plaza, sports complex, etc.  Sis misses the fresh cool wind that permeates the house even in summer time; Paw misses the peaceful silence that pervades throughout the village (Parang buhay probinsya). Levic misses riding his bike through the relatively safe streets. Me? I miss the roof deck of the house…

My most favorite part is the roofdeck. I remember I would go straight up there and enjoy watching the sunset or just eat ice cream…

On the roofdeck, Pawie (above) would sit on the ledge, too, at night and just chillax.  We even camped and slept overnight here under the stars last summer. Too bad, I didn’t take pix of us ‘camping.’ Now, it won’t happen again….

I used to exercise and walk through the streets of Provident Village at night while Levic acted as my bodyguard as he rode his bike.  He and I know the streets like the back of our hands. The scariest part of the village at night was near the village wall that separates it from the river – for it was dark there and lacks street lights, right, Lev?

Every weekend all throughout December, fireworks can be seen from the roof deck. Like this pic of a fireworks display from last Christmas season.  Well, now, no more fireworks viewing from there this year (or from hereon for that matter). Sighs…

What’s to be learned from all these? Not to take for granted what we have. Appreciate the simple things and always be grateful.  It’s better to enrich ourselves not with owning material things but with wonderful memories and life experiences instead.  So let’s build more memories! With new hopes, new dreams, and a positive outlook in life… for there is nowhere to go but up!

To be continued in Life after Ondoy

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(This is a continuation from the previous post. For more Ondoy pics, click here and here):

Sept. 27, 2009: Here are more images taken by my niece Pchie after the tragic ordeal brought about by the floods during Typhoon Ondoy.  These were from the streets of Provident Village, Marikina – one of the worst-hit areas in Metro Manila:

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Rubber boats were already deployed in the village since the wee hours of Sunday morning. But it was nearly noon when they were finally able to see one pass by their street.

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Dramatic rescue… Pchie: “Parang sa movie ko lng to napapanuod e…” Definitely NOT Richard Gutierrez doing the rescuing.  But maybe if that person was a starlet…

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Our furry friends also need rescuing. Check the water level. This one was lucky. There were plenty of dogs lying on the street dead…

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Some family’s refrigerator ended up hanging precariously on these power lines.  When Sis came out of the house for the first time since the flood, she thought the experience so surreal: “Parang yung pelikula ni Wil Smith? I am Legend ba yun? Ganun… parang wala nang tao sa mundo…

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A common sight now… Pchie: “Mayaman ang casa/talyer ngayon!” There were flooded cars being sold at the village entrance… um, possibly all over Metro Manila…

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Refugee Levic (my 10 year old nephew in yellow-green shirt above) along with his sisters, trudged along ankle-deep mud, on the move for a safer and dryer place. They are now staying over at their Lola’s house.  While getting out of the village, Pchie and Paw shielded and distracted their little brother from the sight of dead bodies on the street…ondoy_aftermath7

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while Sis and Doc stayed behind to clean and to save what can be saved…

To all those who lost their loved ones in the flood, we are offering our sympathies and prayers. Our hearts are with you… Let’s heal from this tragedy, and rebuild anew. But we mustn’t forget as well. Let us as a nation learn from this and may this serve as a shout-out to the world that climate change is real and is happening, and that we should start making dire changes now before it is too late…

In unity, there is strength. Let us all help out any way we can through Phil. National Red Cross, and GMA Kapuso Foundation.

(Continuation from previous post)

Sept. 27, 2009:

I heaved a sigh of relief when after midnight, my sis texted: “Start na baba ng water, mga 18 ft. na lang… Lubog pa 1st flr, puro ubo na ng mga tao nrrinig d2…” At 2 am: “Kita na ibbaw ng gate…” Huhu! I was near tears reading these messages, thanking God, they’re finally safe from further danger…

Here are Before, During and After shots taken by my nieces and nephew (from the third floor of their house) regarding the havoc Ondoy wreaked upon Provident Village, Marikina:

DURING:

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AFTER:

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The water started to recede very slowly on Sunday. The last time it flooded in the village was 1988, but it did not rise up to the second floor. This 0ne was estimated to have reached up to 25 ft! Truly unimaginable…

DURING:

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AFTER:

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By noon of the following day, rescuers came with bulldozers to clear debris, and to carry flood victims.

BEFORE:

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DURING:

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AFTER:

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Paw was able to take pics of the flood waters with her cellcam  as it began to rise higher and higher. The next day, lost things, debris and all sorts of garbage emerged from the receding flood.

BEFORE: Going…

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and going…

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… and gone!

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AFTER:

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The pix above show the parking area of the house. “Dpa naaninag mga kotse,” Sis texted during the storm. “Bka ntangay na ng agos.” When the water level went down, it was only then they realized -much to their surprise- that the cars were still there… Grabe.

More aftermath pix in the next post: Picking up the Pieces…

Sept. 26, 2009:

It was a harrowing experience – Typhoon Ondoy‘s unprecedented rains were so heavy, it brought on our worst nightmares – metro-wide flooding that destroyed countless of homes, properties, and lives. And it was only Warning Signal No. 1!

Worst hit were riverside cities and low-lying areas, most especially Marikina, Pasig and Rizal. My sister, Doc, Pchie, Paw and Levic were all in the village that was among the hardest-hit in Marikina when the flashfloods came.  I was safe in my home in the south but I watched and stayed up late in the morning of the following day – monitoring via TV, radio, internet, and text messaging for every bit of helpful news I could grab on to.  I feel for everyone who got affected by the typhoon across all Metro Manila but my mind was focused more on my loved ones in Marikina who were experiencing it for themselves firsthand.

Here are the pictures taken by them during the typhoon:

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Water started rising up to the 2nd floor of the rented house they’re staying in. They rushed up the third level of the house where they stayed safe and dry. Pchie: “…after lunch that day, we didn’t expect that it would really get WORST! we’re lucky to have a 3rd floor. Ang bilis ng pangyayari…”

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But their neighbors were up on the roofs, literally weathering the storm out throughout the day and night – exhausted, wet, cold, and hungry – having only rainwater to drink. They were only able to save the clothes they were wearing and nothing else.  My sis’ text message: “Wla na lubog na 2nd flr. 90%. Pls pray 4 us. mga kapitbahay nmin, gus2 lipat d2 kaso wla kami mgwa mlkas alon baha.”

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At the height of the flood, the roofs of houses in the pic are two-story houses. The water was that high, and almost reached the third floor… Pchie: “Basta puro bubong (na lang ang makikita)… kala ko aakyat na rin ako ng 3rdfloor ng bubong namen! :(“

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A neighbor awaits rescue… Just around midnight, Sis sent this text message: “Wla pa din rescue. My dumaan lang helicopter. Kawawa mga tao, konti na lang d na kta bubong nila… May dumaan nka jetski. sigaw mga tao 2big ska fud kc nga mrmi d pa nkkain…”

(The jetski that she was referring to at that moment was actually a speedboat which had actor Richard Gutierrez on it. He circled their street a number of times, looking for a starlet actress living in that area so he can save her. Not knowing who he was because it was pitch dark, people on top of the roofs were telling him to be careful [“Mag-ingat ka dyan. May pader dyan na may bubog!”] and asking him/them to come back and at least throw some bottled water or something [“Naka-ilang balik na kayo, magdala naman kayo ng kahit tubig man lang!”]. But he never did.  I don’t care what his reasons are, he’s an ass – he could have done more to help by letting rescuers borrow the speedboat or something… Hmp!)

By 2 am, Sept. 27, the flood waters were beginning to subside…

To be continued in the next post