From a different point of view…

20 10 2009

Writing about the typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines is probably starting to be overrated for some people just because it’s been in the news for a long time now. But it really IS a big deal. And this is why I decided to write about it anyway. Not just because it’s my fellow Filipinos who got affected. It’s people I actually know…Honestly, I didn’t really care about the details of the typhoon itself, I have no idea how bad it is compared to Katrina. All I know is that within hours, a lot of people that I care for got affected.

Growing up in the Philippines, I’ve probably watched (from the news) an average of at least eight super typhoons that hit parts of the country every year. But this one, it wasn’t just the news. It was actually being on the phone with my best friend who was telling me she’s stranded in a building in her school because the flood is chest-deep. It was my boyfriend telling me his family had barely ten minutes to move out from their house, bringing nothing with them but their dogs. It was my friend who was telling me how guilty she felt for not being able to save her younger sister in the flood. It was my barkada (group of friends) having an online conversation with me, telling me how they haven’t heard from at least twenty of the people from my high school class. Being seven thousand miles away from home, I felt really weak. I wanted to help so bad but I didn’t know how. All I had with me here was a not-so-updated contacts list of friends and internet. There was no way I could possibly help looking for missing people. The only positive thing I could think of was that at least my family was safe in Batangas (a province south of Manila). But besides that, I could feel everyone’s chaos back in Manila. The typhoon and the flood it caused didn’t just took away properties of the people. It took away fruits of hard work, memories kept for so many years or generations, and most of all, lives. You could just imagine my relief every time my friends would one by one appear online on Yahoo! Messenger. That was enough for me to know they’re safe.

So I guess that’s more of the personal side of it for me.

But this wasn’t the end of it. A week after Ondoy swept through most parts of Manila and some provinces, Pepeng, another super typhoon with the same strength as Ondoy, hit the Philippines. Earlier during the week after Ondoy, weather reports said Pepeng was following the same path as Ondoy. Two days later, however, Pepeng was starting to change directions. That was a relief for most of my friends and family. But it wasn’t all good. Pepeng hit central Luzon, which was the richest agriculture area in the country. Landslides in the northern provinces occurred, taking yet another hundreds of lives and destroying more houses as if Ondoy wasn’t enough. Pepeng destroyed most crop fields. My friend was even joking about how her mom can’t make her eat vegetables now because prices have gone up so bad that it was ridiculous to buy vegetables at this time. This is going to affect the countries economy for a while.

Eight more weeks before I go back home… I wonder what changes I’ll see when I go back…

Fort Bonifacio
This is a condo in Fort Bonifacio. The area is considered to be a high-end place and condos there are usually worth multimillions. But even these luxurious condos were not spared by Ondoy.

This is somewhere in Katipunan Avenue. Ateneo De Manila University, also a Jesuit University, is located here. There’s also a lot of restaurants and dorms and condos along Katipunan Avenue.

Even after the flood, Filipinos, rich or poor, can still find ways to look at something positive. *wink*

-Z. Santos




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