According to reports, yesterday’s tremendous tempest dumped the heaviest rainfall on Metro Manila and nearby provinces in more than four decades!
I was stuck in our office in Alabang, Muntinlupà City for hours after my shift. But the downpour never ceased. I was supposed to attend a kid cousin’s birthday, but I thought it best not too.
Seeing that it was hopeless to wait for the rain to cease, I just barged outside using my dilapidated umbrella. And I was disgusted by what I saw — stranded motorists! It reminded me of my college days getting stuck in the same situation. I remember one time when I had to walk from Adamson University in Manila all the way to Parañaque City! It was a scary flashback because yesterday, I didn’t plan of walking from Alabang all the way to San Pedro, La Laguna.
Little did I know that a tragedy was already happening all over the metropolis and its surrounding provinces.
I waited for almost an hour under the Alabang viaduct. And underneath the viaduct, traffic was hell. Counterflows where virtually everywhere, and many commuters were already soaking wet. Whenever empty jeepneys pass by slowly, exhausted commuters surround them, like vultures waiting for their prey to die. Luckily I was able to catch an apprehensive jeepney driver (I saw the look on his face; he was still undecisive whether or not he should just drive home or still pick up motorists). I ran as fast as I could (the veteran that I am from all these flooded moments), getting the choicest jeepney seat — the front seat.
In just a few seconds, the jeepney was filled. Initially, the driver decided to drive us only up to Muntinlupà (the población), but no one seemed to care. We all had one thing in mind: to go back to our respective homes as close as we can get.
The driver chose the old National Road (Mahárlika Highway) instead of the South Luzón Tollway because the traffic flow in the said expressway was almost immobile. But it was even worse in the national road. Many parts were flooded. I was surprised. This was no ordinary rain. I’ve never seen Muntinlupà flooded that way before.
I started sending text messages to friends, asking them their situation. I learned that even in Manila, it was flooded. It was no surprise because floods in many parts of Manila is almost “normal” (no thanks to litterbugs).
Surprisingly, we noticed that there was no more traffic jam in the población. So the driver decided to drive us all the way to San Pedro, La Laguna (which is supposed to be a couple of minutes away). I wondered why there was no more traffic jam. I found out minutes later.
When our jeep drove past Susana Heights, it started to rain heavier again (I already threw my useless umbrella in the garbage bin; anyway, I was already prepared to get wet myself). I got the shock of my life to see that the highway in front of me turned into a virtual sea of flood!
So that’s why there were no more vehicles! And the few vehicles that remained were those whose engines were flooded already. Poor owners! And there were people everywhere, braving the rains and the waist-high floods.
Our driver was still apprehensive: should he drive through the waters or not? I egged him to “go for it, dude!” The guy was cheerful all throughout the trip, and was very thoughtful of his passengers (may God bless his career). And yes, he did decide to drive on. The secret to it was not to remove his foot onto the pedal. He must continue driving through the flooded road without stopping or else the waters will enter and engulf the engines.
And so he drove, turning his rickety public utility vehicle into an amphibian-jeep, creating waves along the way, splashing commuters who decided to walk through the floods. And other vehicles who were coming from La Laguna made more ripples and waves in the flood. Some of the flood waters even entered where I was seated.
For some odd reason, the sight excited me. And I was very, very disappointed for not having with me my wife’s Motorola v3i (the only “digital” camera we have). I should’ve taken pictures of the flooded scene for this website and for ALAS FILIPINAS.
When our jeep neared San Pedro, La Laguna, the floods got worse. All esteros overflowed, destroying the shanties along its coast. The boundary between Muntinlupà City / Metro Manila and La Laguna province has become water world. I suddenly thought of San Pedro’s mayor, Calixto Catáquiz, who is a family friend. His home in Barrio Sto. Niño lies is near Laguna de Bay and is not in an elevated place. I hope he’s OK.
Driving through the boundary is the most difficult drive we encountered. The flood was much higher, and there were so many standed people who were blocking the way, slowing us even more (I wasn’t ready yet to “dive” into the murky, garbage-filled flood). But luckily, we went through. I was confident that as soon as we get to the San Pedro bridge, we’ll be OK because the bridge was built very high above the river.
Although the river didn’t overflow on top of the bridge, the place has been converted into a “parking lot”. I’ve never seen the bridge filled with so much vehicles! There were so many parked cars, jeepneys, and even buses that I feared we might not get to the other side). But we did.
When we got to the other side, I dropped off because our apartment was just near. It was no longer raining heavily, but it was still drizzling enough to soak me. But I never got the chance to walk to our home which is what I usually do — the road was flooded with almost-knee-high waters. I had to take a trike. Luckily our apartment is situated in an elevated place. And even if it gets flooded there, we’re on the second floor. I later learned today that others who have two-storey homes, such as sexy actress Cristine Reyes, were not so lucky:
Even this year's FHM Queen wasn't spared from Ondoy's wrath!
Funny thing is that after breakfast I was just reading a copy of FHM Philippines 100 Sexiest Women for 2009 where she won the number one spot, hehehe! I wasn’t able to watch TV news because we still have no cable (and no internet connection yet; I’m now at our neighbor’s internet shop). F*ck, we even lost our water supply. Yesterday was even worse: when I got home, there were both no electricity and water supplies.
Now that I’m online, I just realized the magnitude of yesterday’s massive downpour:
‘Ondoy’ leaves 72 dead and missing
‘Ondoy’ like ‘Katrina’
Tropical Storm Ketsana 2009
Typhoon Ondoy, Emergency Disaster Relief Numbers
Typhoon Ondoy displaces 153 families
And here’s a really scary video of Marikina River uploaded by INITIATE360 in YouTube. Typhoon Ondoy turned the river into a mammoth killing machine:
Below is INITIATE360’s account of the above video:
“I just got back from the river’s edge 5 minutes ago. A 10-15 feet height differential between the Marikina River and the embankment has now been reduced to the point that water is splashing against the high-rises of Eastwood, Metro Manila. A security guard for this sealed off area approaches me and covers me with his umbrella while I snap pictures from my phone. “Where are the police or firemen?” I asked. He first points at a speck in the middle of the river 300-400 meters out to my right. “That was a woman with her 2 year old infant clinging on to her. She passed through here in the middle of the river – waving at us for help. There was nothing we could do – she had passed though within 5 seconds. We’ve been seeing other people washed away.” We watched helplessly at the 20+ people 200 meters away that are now sitting on top of their corrugated roof-tops as the river rages beneath them on their submerged homes… waiting for emergency personnel yet to come.”
Marikina River, as well as other rivers in Metro Manila, overflows from time to time during typhoons. But not like this. And according to Reyes herself, she has lived in Provident Village, Marikina City for many years. This is the first time her home was inundated.
In other news, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro has his hands busy working with the National Disaster Coordinating Council with all rescue and relief operations. According to him, this is the worst typhoon tragedy he has ever encountered. Even the Philippine Navy claimed that this was the first time that they had received so many calls for help at the same time.
Since Gibô Teodoro is at the helm of all rescue and relief operations, I’m afraid that this tragedy might be given a “political color” to it because this is actually the best time for Gibô to up the ante with regard to his presidential aspirations. He might win (or try to win) the hearts (and votes) of thousands of Filipinos who were affected by the typhoon. Nevertheless, may his rescue team be successful with their endeavors.
It’s past 4:00 PM in the afternoon. The rains have slowed down, but hasn’t stopped yet. Malacañang Palace has already declared a state of calamity in Metro Manila and other 25 affected provinces. Close to a hundred people lost their lives. And thousands have been displaced. Eighty percent of the capital is underwater.
May this serve as a GLOBAL WARNING to all those who disrespect Mother Nature (such as litterbugs, smoke belchers, illegal loggers, etc.). Like countless others, I am mighty sure that climate change has something to do with this.
Click here for more photos of the tragedy (culled from various Facebookers).