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Surviving the great flood

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Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering. – Paulo Coelho

Since two typhoons hit the Philippines, many are still awaiting help. One of these is Santolan, Pasig City where friends dear to us live. They were victims of 25-foot water that entered their homes in a matter of only thirty minutes. “I thought it was already the end of the world,” said Mommy Ventura when asked about their experience.

When Ondoy lashed the metropolis, no one had any idea he would bring such devastation. Otherwise, the residents who live along his path would have sought shelter somewhere else. Mommy is an owner of a three-level building along M. Dela Paz. They had the lowest level rented out while the second level is owned by her sons. She and her husband with their single daughter live in the third floor with an adjacent rooftop.

Within those thirty minutes when water rumbled in their home,  the residents of the building could not save anything else but the clothes they had on. “The third floor really saved us, if we did not have that, we have not survived at all,” said Marro, Mommy’s single daughter who lives with them, in Filipino.

Waters came...
Waters came...

after 30 minutes...
after 30 minutes...

Mommy and her immediate family live with the rest of the extended family in a compound in Santolan. They moved there when Libis, Quezon City was demolished to give way to a wider road and fly-overs. They perceived the coming of typhoon Ondoy as a life-changing moment. “We have lived in Libis all our lives but never experienced this kind of deluge. When Ondoy was lashing our home, I realized that it is not good to be with the family in one compound because when a deluge comes, all members will be affected.” Only one brother of Mommy still lives in Libis since he is the Barangay Captain there.

For more than 24 hours when Ondoy visited Manila in September 26, the Venturas, along with 40 other people (also with three pregnant women and three children) were trapped in the top floor of their home not knowing what to do. Luckily, Mommy bought a sack of rice the day before. With this, they had enough to feed the people trapped inside.

Trapped on the third floor
Trapped on the third floor

Their family in Libis sought help for many hours but it was just not possible to reach them, with the height and the current of water. Finally, when dark came, a small boat without a balancer reached them. The boat can only take three people at a time and moving while in it was not an option. “It was really scary, especially for the children,” said Marro.

When the water finally subsided, they returned to their home and found it under the mud. Scrubbing the mud off home appliances has, since then, been a giant task. For more than two weeks, mountains of garbage still wait for collection in front of their home and they still try to revive some everyday things like blankets and towels.

The day after...
The day after...

Cleaning up...
Cleaning up...

Needless to say, Ondoy made them realize what “starting all over again” means. “When we returned to our home, I said to myself, ‘this will mean that we will have to start again’ but seeing how Ondoy affected other families, we are just grateful that no one among us is hurt. As long as we have something to eat, we are fine. We are very grateful for friends and family who have extended help,” Marro expressed.

Happy to help!
Happy to help!

Marro tries to live normally everyday. She already went back to work only days after Ondoy. Although cleaning up is still a task and she admits to have been deeply traumatized, “Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking that the sound of the electric fan is the sound of the typhoon.” #

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