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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Remembering The Onslaught (Part 1)

10/09/2010 11:33 AM

It’s been exactly 54 weeks since a tropical storm ravaged the island of Luzon and caused devastation on almost (if not all) every resident of Metropolitan Manila and nearby provinces such as Bulacan, Pampanga, Quezon, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal. 

In fact, Ondoy (International name: Ketsana) was held accountable for at least 710 casualties and 11 billion pesos in damages to property as it crossed the island Luzon, including the nation’s capital. 

It happened after a massive rainfall on 25 September 2009 that has been unstoppable overnight and lasted 'til late evening of September 26. As part of the millions of victims who already told their stories—through personal or social media—here is my share of witnessing the catastrophic day. After all, who would ever think that a tropical storm like that would cause massive flash floods and overflowing the waterways such as the Marikina and Pasig Rivers?

September 26, 2009. 

Daylight, around 8:00 AM. I was surprised the rainfall didn’t even stop since last (Friday) night. And perhaps, almost everyone felt the same way either.

Then on my way to school—and at the same time my parents were travelling to our place in Bulacan—also took notice.

9:00 AM. As we passed by C-5 By Pass road, the riverside roadway which links the major highway and Riverbanks Center, the level of current in Marikina River almost reached the gutter level of the nearby jogging lane situated around Industrial Valley. But what’s even surprising is a portion of that road in Barangka had already submerged to flood that even heavy vehicles couldn't be able to cross Riverbanks.

Fast forward; around 20 minutes later, I arrived at LRT 2 Legarda Station in Manila. There then lies a creek where the water level didn't even reach a foot high off its bed. But since the rain was quite unstoppable, I had no choice but to wait for a call of timeout from the heavens. But after a while, I got no choice but to stroll along with other commuters whom have umbrellas with them; covering myself in the process.

I was then sporting my old No Fear ghetto-like jacket, with Coach polo shirt, slacks and Kickers’ leather shoes; while I carrying a pouch bag with my school ID, Nokia 1208 phone, a ballpoint pen, and a Lukban, Quezon-made coin pouch on it.

I really hate it when I arrive at school with my jacket all wet and drowned (obviously!)

9:30 AMI arrived at school barely an hour ahead of my Radio Production Class. And guess what? I don’t have an assignment for the upcoming session. But who cares anyway? We were only few attendants there. And when they suspension was  called at 12 noon, it's not just too late, but a very bad call! 

It was way too late for me to go home. One of my classmates arrived at 11 AM, and we were on the height of our story-telling-slash-discussion forum (about which I can’t remember what we were exactly talking about). He just told us that FX rides screwed him after getting numerous times of getting stranded along Makati City.

Also, one of my classmates hailing from the nearby EspaƱa Boulevard arrived like a drowned chick (is that the right English term for “basing sisiw” anyway?); and so were the others.

Okay let’s move forward (12 NOON). As soon as I rushed myself to the South Gate of Centro Escolar University, I saw nothing but tons of people stuck in their respective grounds as floods has made the entire street of Enrique Mendiola like an extension of their creek. Yes, from Chino Roces Bridge to the Gate of MalacaƱang itself. 

I had no choice but to look for an alternate exit which is at the North Gate. And as I went on my way, I have also seen the chapel's floor submerged by flood as well as the Quadrangle and even the Student Activity Center. 

"Shit" is the only word I could utter as I was then trying to figure out on how to get away from this hellish atmosphere at once. And indeed I took the hard way out (since there’s no such 'easy passage' to go anyway), the pavement was quite slippery and even cockroaches were crossing alongside us either. And just when I thought the fun (dare I say that!) was over, I walked by past the bridge, and the water on the creek is way between knee-to-waist-high level above the ground. Much to my surprise.

I need to secure every belonging I had and started walking barefooted (and it lasted for like 17 hours.) My cellphone was zero balanced; making me unable to send a text message to anyone. So it was definitely a long day, but that wouldn’t let me deal with miscommunication, as I still managed to text my father through the number of a random stranger (well, a pharmacy student from the same school, to be exact).

And I'm grateful from her help.

The line of passengers taking the train was way too long as it reached beyond the entrance doors, not just at the Legarda Station but down there to the deeply-flooded passageway beside the creek. I was standing for like 15-25 minutes from that stretch of distance. And worse is that I almost ran short of budget after checking my purse. Shit, money's down to 50 pesos. 

Jeez! How crap is that? And the station teller was only selling 13-peso valued single journey tickets since it was the only left in stock.

I asked “Sir, bababa po ako ng Santolan Station! (I’ll be alighting at the Santolan Station!)” He replied I should add the peso charge ticket for re-validation once I get there.

And I think that also goes to everyone riding regardless of their respective destination. Then came the next train; everyone's all soaked up and we’re filling the car like a can of sardines with only a little room for breathing.

As I took the ride, I was conversing with this person who came all the way from his workplace in Pasay City. He told me that roads there were already sunk to waist-deep flood. And what makes him harder to get his way home is the portions of Marcos Highway which arenn’t passable to any kinds of vehicle anymore, especially nearby Cainta and Antipolo (Masinag). 

We took a glimpse along the way. And it is scary to witness the cars parked at the University of the East – Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center (UERMMC) at Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City getting toyed by flood waves. Terrifying sight.

Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue, Araneta Center, Cubao Quezon City. 12:45 in the afternoon. I saw from the elevated railway structure that the road vehicles down there were just parked. They're not moving anymore due to floods.

At the same time, I was warned by my father not to travel back home anymore because every single street in our barangay was not accessible to anyone anymore. Instead, he advised me to stay at the elevated places.

After the train passed by the Katipunan Station tunnel, it came to my surprise that Marikina River overflowed already. The water level was around 20+ feet high. Shocking enough to tell you, it already leveled the Marcos Bridge, and waves occurred by the strong current of the river could destroy the it with conviction. Considering its aging foundation.

1:00 PM I arrived at Santolan Station. I couldn’t look at my residing barangay like the usual. And the river, too. Some roofs of nipa huts were ravaged by flood. And some of them were found riding the stream. The parking levels of mall SM City Marikina submerged. It appeared like a lot of places had been wiped out on the map.




PART 2

Author: slickmaster | ©2010, 2014 september twenty-eight productions

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