After the Storm

I was having second thoughts in posting this. I think it’s a bit late or I don’t think I have written this well enough. But here goes…

It was a Saturday. We had a shoot for the yearbook for a college near UN Avenue inManila. I recall hearing in the news that a tropical storm has entered the country that morning. They were hoping that the storm would be weaker after it moved across the Mountains of Sierra Madre. But by noon, classes were cancelled due to the heavy downpour brought by Ondoy (international name: Ketsana).
Few students still came for pictorial that afternoon. We packed up at around 4:30PM. As we head out the building, we soon realized the difficulty in going home. The streets are flooded. Jeepneys no longer head for our area due to the flood.
There is no way that I’m going to wade in the flood. I said to myself. My co-worker (who also live along the same road) and I hailed a bike with sidecar and for a hundred pesos we head for Quirino Avenue.
As driver pedalled, I hoped that the road where we live is not as flooded as the other areas in Manila. As soon as we reached the street, my hopes died.
Floods are a perennial problem in Metro Manila.
The Region lies on an isthmus with an average elevation of 10 meters. It is flanked by theManila Bay in the west and Laguna de Bay in the south east. The Pasig River, Metro Manila’s primary water, runs across connecting the two bodies of water. The MarikinaRiver stretches across the eastern side.
The geography itself screams flood plain all over. Floods would certainly be inevitable. But it’s not like we live in the ancient period. Technology has developed ways to prevent the areas like Metro Manila from experiencing disastrous floods. Defences like levees and dams are designed to help prevent such catastrophe.
Ondoy seemed to be too much to handle. The tropical storm surpassed the record amount of rainfall set around 40 years ago. The Hurricane Katrina which brought 380mm of rain in Louisiana, USA was no match to the 410mm of rainfall Ondoy dumped in the country. It was a month’s worth of rain poured in the span of 12 hours.
The storm left the Philippine Area of Responsibility Sunday evening with at least 250 dead and thousands more displaced from their homes, 80% of the region submerged.
The people are quick to point fingers to the government. Apparently, the government claimed that such calamity was unforeseen. The inaccuracy of PAG-ASA’s forecast might be the cause of this disaster. PAG-ASA would retaliate that due to the lack of support from the government and funding for newer equipment, a more accurate prediction is not possible. With that, the fault is not entirely theirs. The government can direct the issue to the people who just dump their garbage anywhere, everywhere thus clogging the sewage systems, causing the flood.
We can’t just use the ‘blame card’. Finding someone to blame solves nothing. It just covers up the guilt. Biting off from someone else’s back won’t remove the mud from the houses, fix broken structures or even bring the dead back.
Take responsibility for our actions – the loggers, illegal or not, those who throws garbage irresponsibly, people who refuse to segregate their garbage, people who use their power for their personal gain disregarding the effect to the community, people who neglects the problems in the environment. Everyone had a hand in making this disaster possible.
We are all living as a community, as one. Humans are not created to live alone. We all affect everyone in the community. Thinking only of our selves could only make things worse.
The pain of the calamity still lingers. But we must rise up from this as new individuals. Let us learn the lesson the flood brought us.
For those who are spared from the ordeal, a helping hand is greatly appreciated. A great way to show how thankful you are is by being a candle of hope to others.
For those who are still suffering, keep faith in your hearts. It is easy to say that we must think positive on the situation at hand. With the number of destroyed homes, displaced families and traumatized victims increasing, finding hope amidst the devastation might be hard, but it would lessen the burden in the heart.
We can survive this. We are resilient.

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