On the wee hours of the morning of September 26, I couldn’t sleep. Nick and I were chatting about nothing in particular, although we were bantering on Facebook about the the PAG-ASA website, which was triggered by my post on the satellite image of the big blob over the Philippine archipelago that was Typhoon Ondoy. Turns out, I couldn’t sleep because I was worried about the typhoon although it seemed like no one else was. I even woke Ryan up at 2am to show him the satellite image, and he said, “Huhhhh? Whaaaa…? Uh, okay….” Zzzzzzz. Exhausted and sleepy he was after drinking all night with his friends in Eastwood. I kept thinking that it had not stopped raining all night.

10:30 am September 26, 2009

Lia woke me up the usual way, “I want to play Mama…” Ryan came into the bedroom, after just having had coffee in the garage. The three of us played, with the baby rolling and creeping around on the bed, such is the usual activity on a Saturday morning.

11:00 am

All three of us went downstairs to hear Siony telling us, with a little bit of panic in her voice, “Water is coming up from the kitchen out back and from the drainage in the bathroom.” We went to the garage and true enough, water was coming up from the streets. I told Siony to tell the landlady next door that water was coming in into the house from out the back. She came back to tell us that they told her, “Sa amin rin!”

We started moving things from the floor starting with the carpet. We started moving everything on the floor to the second floor. I took out my camera to start documenting.

12:15 pm

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Kitchen

The water was steadily rising. Ryan started putting other things, like the sofa bed and the sofa, on top of chairs.

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Living room

We went out to hang out in the garage, to look at how things are progressing and the water was to our knees.

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Garage gate from the inside

I went out into the street to see our car half-submerged.

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Car parked half on the sidewalk and half on the street

It was too late now to bring it to higher ground. Unlike the neighbor’s Isuzu Trooper which the neighbor frantically drove to the end of the street and parked onto another neighbor’s garage entry which was a little higher than the street.

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Isuzu Trooper on the driveway at the end of the street

Standing under an umbrella, I caught a glimpse of a man walking at the corner of ours and the main streets in waist-deep water. We were horrified. We hastily had lunch, still sitting on the dining chairs, taking turns as the table was half-filled with things taken out of the refrigerator. We already shut the main power off.

2:15 pm

The water was almost waist-deep inside the house, deeper out in the garage, even deeper out in the street and deepest at the corner of Bonn and Soliven Streets.

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No more sitting for tonight's dinner eh?

4:05pm

We were having a bit of a rest from all the carrying and moving stuff up the stairs and hanging out in the garage.

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At least the water is not murky?

Our landlady said, “Iniwan ko yung kotse ko sa opisina. Lumangoy ako pauwi. Yang pagkalubog ng kotse mo, marami pa sa labas na mas lubog pa. Bumili na nga ako ng salba-bida para lang makauwi!” I went out in the street to look at the car and the street. Not a car in the street, except ours.

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Nor is there any current...

I felt really bad for ours.

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Too late now for the stuff inside the car

Then after a few minutes, our landlady came out to check on the neighbor across the street. Dala niya ang kanyang dolphin. Hahaha.

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5:30pm

With the remaining light and whatever resources were still downstairs, we cooked dinner, cleaned and sterilized baby’s bottles and prepared for the night. We had dinner on makeshift tables on the second floor hallway. Prepared the second-floor balcony as a makeshift kitchen and bathroom. Lia had been amazingly calm the entire time. I suppose, so were we.

7:00pm

We prepared to sleep for the night. Water was still steadily rising and was past the dining table.

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Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Ryan had moved the refrigerator on top of the table. The sofas were moved on top of chairs that were on top of chairs.

10:00pm

It was still raining and water was still rising.

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...Who's the sturdiest of them all?

We watched how the staircase steps steadily disappeared under the water. We hoped for the best and went back to sleep.

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Row, row, row your sofa.. gently down the flood...

2:00am September 27, 2009

We have been fanning the baby to keep her cool as it was hot and humid in the bedroom. She woke up nevertheless for a bit of play time. It had stopped raining at least. I went downstairs to check on the water and it was the deepest yet. The refrigerator on top of the kitchen sink was floating, and so was the sofa. The light switches on the wall had completely disappeared under the water. I was too tired to take a photo. Of course now I wish I did. I remember jokingly telling Ryan, “Isuot mo na yang snorkel and fins mo, check mo kung andiyan pa kotse mo sa labas!”

6:15am

I woke up four hours later and the water was going down. I could see the light switches again.

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Inabot rin ng umaga

Through the windows, I could see the rays of sunshine coming in. Sunlight reflected on the mirror on the wall and on the water. It was going to be a sunny day.

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Sun shines after the rain

We had breakfast, whatever was left from last night and some canned food.

9:00am

Ryan was out on the roof. I joined him to take a look at our neighbors. We walked on the fast-becoming hot tin roof of the neighbor at the back, which was accessible to us by way of the fire exit. Some residents in the neighboring village were wading in the flood with whatever belongings they could carry.

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Neighboring village

On the street in front of our house, we caught a glimpse of a sandwich walking above the flood, oh no, it was being held by a hand right above the water. Some one must sure be hungry.

The a flock of birds started circling above the muddy waters at the border of our village and the next.

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Hope

I went downstairs to check on the water. I still had not ventured to wade in the water because I have a baby who is breastfed and tap water was running out. I could not afford a bath. Uh no, we didn’t even have a bathroom.

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Receding but very slowly

Some neighbors without second floors spent the night on their roofs. The night before, we were kept awake by the whimpers and howls of dogs that were drowning in the flood. It was hard to sleep with thoughts of poor little animals dying.

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Camping on the roof

Globe cellular signal disappeared the day before. We were using my Sun celullar number to keep in touch, though not without problems. Though I could receive text messages and could even at times be called, I was unable to send text messages. We made use of the internet and whatever battery life was left on the laptop.

11:30am
We had an early lunch. Some canned tuna and rice that was cooked the day before, before the water made the LPG tank float and before we had to evacuate the gas burners to the second floor. The balcony on the second floor was too small for us to be able to cook anything. Still, there was enough food for all three of us. We all took to napping right after lunch. My brother Carmelo was texting to ask how we are and that he was coming over. I could not reply back.

2:00pm
We woke up to see my brother standing in the doorway of the bedroom, soaked all the way up to his chest, holding plastic bags with red Jollibee printed on them. He brought us food and a lot of stories. He said the deepest flood water he had to wade through was at the corner of our street.. but that at the village gate, water was just about waist-deep. He said people out in the flood were asking him, “Jollibee delivery? Jollibee delivery? Bukas ang Jollibee?!” And he said, “Uh yeah, bukas. Dun sa C-5.”

4:00pm
Carmelo asked us how he could help. We told him we were okay staying at our place. He offered to buy us supplies. We asked him to get us more water for the baby and some candles. We told him to bring the baby’s bathtub to help him carry stuff. The water was slowly receding and we could see the mud settling on the walls and surfaces slowly being exposed. It was a good time to start cleaning. Baby refused to stay upstairs in the bedroom while we splashed and cleaned around. She wanted to stay in the staircase and watch. Interesting she must’ve thought.

6:00pm
Ryan’s parents arrived on a rubber boat for which they paid P200 to ferry them from the village gate to ours. They brought food but forgot to bring us some candles. They thought of staying the night but we told them there wasn’t any space. They asked the enterprising boatmen to pick them up again after an hour and a half.

7:00pm
We were getting worried about my brother. We thought he was taking so long just to buy water and candles. He arrived shortly bearing three 5-gallon bottles of water in his bathtub. He told us candles were all sold out everywhere and that he had to plead his way into a closed 7-Eleven with almost-empty shelves to get the water. He told the guard he needed the water for the baby. The guard took a look at his bright blue bathtub and let him in. Upon leaving, he was told, “Please don’t tell anyone you got the water here. Maraming gumagaya eh.” He laughed when he told us how embarrassing it was to lug the bath tub around in Amang Rodriguez Avenue where there was absolutely no water but that the bath tub was very helpful in getting inside 7-Eleven and carrying three 5-gallon bottles of water in the flood. Sabi sa kanya ng mga nasasalubong niya, looking at bathtub floating in the flood water, “Wow, okay yan ah!” Sabi namin sa kanya, “Sikat ka na ano? Sikat! Bida na ang bathtub mo. Hehehe.”

8:00pm
Ryan’s parents and my brother all left at about quarter to eight. We were left wondering to ourselves. Ryan’s friends/officemates arrived shortly and found us trying to catch a big, bright colorful koi out in the garage. They had brought a car with them, which was parked out in the basketball court where there wasn’t any water anymore. We thought they were just visiting too like Ryan’s parents and offered them softdrinks. Hahaha. Apparently, they had come to take us to Eastwood where one of the office’s condo was waiting for us. We really didn’t want to leave because we were fine where we were but we were all in need of a bath, use of a bathroom and it was getting generally stinky. They said the water was only deepest at the corner of our street and the main street, but that in there, it was about waist-deep and shallower in other areas. We decided to make a go for it. If only for a little respite.

We packed things enough for an overnight’s stay, made sure baby was comfy and warm and waded out. We wanted to lock the house but was unable to do so because the door wouldn’t close. The wood had expanded and did not fit into the doorway anymore. Afraid of looting, we stored our valuables in one bedroom and locked the bedroom. There was no other way.

I remember walking in the dark, in the flood waters, looking at baby. Ryan, being the tallest of the group, had her in his arms. She was really calm. Just curiously looking at everything. We were telling her, “Look baby! What an experience! Your first flood! So sad you won’t remember it though.”

11:00pm
We were finally able to shower, get into fresh clothes and have some hot food. We were quite exhausted. We spent some time having hot pizza in Eastwood.

Ryan came back with Siony the next afternoon to clean up while I stayed in the condo to take care of the baby. Power was back up by about seven in the evening Monday night and we were back in our own already-clean home, with running water and electricity by about midnight. Lia especially missed our house.

In the neighborhood, we are actually considered lucky. We finished cleaning the house ahead of the others. We did not lose a lot of things. Maybe because we did not have a lot of things to begin with. We did not lose our dog. My brother said jokingly, “In your dog-loving community, those who have dogs who died are being ostracized.” Our only major damage, aside from the broken dryer and the soaked sofa, is the car. The car is now in some shop somewhere. We don’t know when we will get it back or how much we will have to spend on repairs. Well, at least it’s still intact.

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