Life has been pretty unusual for the past two weeks and I have so many stories to tell, share, but I'm overwhelmed of how things turned out since Ondoy and Pepeng hit us. I have my own share of Ondoy experience and maybe starting to narrate it will hopefully inspire and awaken everyone of the realization that life is short and that life, however we plan it, may be taken away from us in just one click.
September 26 - I woke up at 5am with rains starting to pour. I anticipated the traffic even if it was a weekend so i left home really early. I met up with my staff at 730am and turned over the materials and deployed them to their respective tasks for the day. I was on my way to quezon city when i found myself stranded and can't get myself out from the traffic. I tried three different routes already and the last route i tried almost got my car submerged from the flood that's rising on a very unusual fast pace. as soon as i was able to get out from that turn, i immediately decided to park my car in a supermarket nearby. I chose it because it had a covered parking space and the parking space was high, subconsciously i was thinking of it getting flooded or something. It was the same time that my client decided to postpone the party and re-schedule it. My two other parties were also postponed but my staff were there already and they were done with all the decors so they had no choice but to pack up as soon as i gave the go signal. I, together with maru and another staff, waited for hours in the supermarket hoping that the rains might stop but that did'nt happen. I noticed the water rising and at 3pm when the clear flood water turned muddy in color, that's when i decided that we'd have to walk thru the flood. I thought that since the supermarket closed already, we won't have food for the night should we decide to stay there. I also thought that we won't have a decent restroom there so we opted to walk along the others who were also attempting to do the same. It was my first time to walk thru a flood and I had a very memorable first time experience. the first block was easy, knee-high. i thought to myself, "hey i could do this..." and by the time we were on the corner of the street, it suddenly reached waist-deep and i found myself pausing in the middle of the street while everyone around me was walking. I said to myself, "i cant do this." but i knew i had to go home. i knew i had to be with my daughter. that's the only thing i wanted to do. so we walked thru waist-deep water. after a few blocks, the flood came to zero, as in nada. so we just walked until we saw a tricycle and road up to the gate of the village of my parents' house. that's where simone was at the time. i was super happy seeing the gate of our village and i was so excited that finally i''ll be able to see my daughter. The minute we started walking, two men told us not to attempt to pass by the street as the water is 6ft high already. i could'nt believe what i heard. 6 feet?! and that's when i thought, "this will be a long walk" we changed route. we passed by this small street supposedly a shortcut from manggahan to sta. lucia. that's the only alternative route i knew. the water was chest-deep, the deepest i had to walk thru, but it was not that deep all the time. there were parts where it was just knee or waist deep. Walking thru waist-deep water was actually easier than knee-high since we were against the current of the water, the force was twice harder. I think the walk was over an hour. There were times that i really felt my legs are shaking from the cold and that i can't move a step further anymore. I wanted to cry but would literally talk to myself, "jacque, konti na lang." when maru (our yaya) sensed that i was having a hard time, she'd encourage me and said lines such as "ate, nakikita ko na yung ilaw ng poste, lapit na" where in fact the lightpost was the size of a raisin in sight. but it helped me get through. My legs and feet were hit by a lot of hard rocks, hollow blocks, and branches with thorns even. There were times when the water current was so hard, we'd walk on the sidestreet and hold on to the rustic gates of the neighborhood. The residents there would coach us, "o mas mahina agos sa kabila, dun kayo" so we would cross to the other side and would walk on the "island" hoping that there were no unclosed manholes. The last turn before seeing sta. lucia mall was the hardest part that i had to do. The current was so hard that no one can cross the street unless you were accompanied by a man or that you hold on to a rope. We were blessed that three guys helped us crossed that street and it felt like we knew each other for a long time. I even teased the guy who helped me and said, "kuya, close tayo ngayon ha" they did'nt want anything in return for helping us but i gave them a little something. They were simply there to help us who wanted to go home and i just could'nt be more thankful.
When we reached the mall, starbucks was even open. haha. i wanted to buy a venti size cafe macchiato but i never had the strength to do so since i just wanted to go home. Just right after the mall, the flood was waist deep again and the current was as hard. it was the longest 50meter walk of my life. The used-to-be-walking distance was the longest i have to make since i knew i was so near but since it was hard enough to walk thru the flood, we had to stop and think of strategies of how not to be drawn by the floods.
As we were entering the gate, i saw our neighbors' cars, SUVs, luxury cars literally floating in the middle of the street. I even came across a man who decided to stay on the street for the night to see his new Montero sport SUV submerged to the flood. he just got it that day from the 'casa' and all the billet grilles were worn out and scratched. When we finally reached my parent's house, i was greeted by my daughter who wanted so bad to hug me. i wanted to kiss her right away and hug her but i was soaking wet. I immediately went to the bathroom and removed my soaking clothes. The moment i sat on the bowl, i cried. I cried because i suddenly felt how weak and tired i'am already. I cried because I saw my baby and knew that we'd be together from then on. I cried because I don't know how we did it. It was God's protection over us. Some say it's the adrenaline but i knew, God was with us. He protected us from any form of danger and I thanked him for that. I cried because it was so surreal. It happened so fast and i could'nt believe that after 30 years of us living in that village, this is the only time it flooded...the only time.
I have'nt eaten for eight hours but i did'nt have the energy to take a bite. When it was night time already, around 9pm, the water went inside our living room. My parents and brothers started to pray again and asked God to protect us and to stop the rain so the flood won't go higher. We put an invisible marker that if the flood reached that high, we would immediately go to the rooftop. We all did'nt sleep. My dad stayed at the living room to monitor the flood. It did'nt go higher than our knees but the basement rooms, kitchen, dining room were waist-deep. We were on the second floor and grateful that the flood stopped from rising. We prayed and prayed and decided to sneak a quick nap when the rain finally stopped.
To be continued...