Typhoon Ulysses and the rest of the Philippines

The year sure knows how to cram at the last minute. It seems that 2020 has yet to rest from all the challenges fate has poured into humanity’s lives. Heartbreaking sights are seen everywhere.

Our country, the Philippines, was not spared from the wrath of nature as multiple typhoons destroyed numerous properties, devastated massive land areas, and took precious lives. The most recent one, and is still an ongoing concern, in the aftermath of typhoon Ulysses which entered the country last Wednesday and have caused numerous flooding across various regions.

Flashback: Ondoy Memories

When the strong winds began on the night of November 12, it felt such a long night. Memories of the past became my family’s company as we listened to the roaring winds which angrily hit every surface it could find. This is not the only concern, then as the winds came with continuous rain. The rainwater sure brought my family back to the past worries when we faced the unexpected rush of water in 2009.

I could still remember clearly how, as a 16-year-old, I was oblivious of what was happening in Metro Manila during that time. I was in university, miles, and miles away from home. In the early morning of September 26, 2009, I thought it was just another rainy day. However, it was the first and only time it took me an entire day to reach Mandaluyong City. I spent the morning on the bus, stuck in heavy traffic with no food or water. Luckily, I was with my roommate then. However, reality just hit me when we reached Crossing, and no public transportation was in sight at around 5:30 pm already.

Fast forward to that entire weekend, I got to walk to knee-deep water with no lights available and had to retreat as the flood got a lot higher than expected. Found a good Samaritan along the way and slept in a building just for the sake of rest. Walked for more than 10 kilometers to only reach a dead end as I got scared of the ocean-deep waters that covered our barangay. Fate brought me to another kind person who let me stay with her family even though they, themselves, were in dire need of help as they live near a floodway—no mobile connection, no electricity, no other way home.

God was and is good then and now. I survived with the help of strangers who saw the need to extend their hands to another person. Surprisingly, I did not cry during the entire ordeal. I felt that I had to be strong and find my way back to my parents and siblings.

Monday morning came then on September 28, and the kind woman who helped me walked with me home. The water level in the nearby subdivision was relatively low, so we walked our way through the muddy waters until I found my way to our street’s dry roads. There I finally saw the familiar environment I know of, yet all were covered with mud. Then we walked further and finally saw my mom. This was when tears came rushing as I heard my mother’s voice, which sounded both of fear and relief.

Only the photos my parents got gave me the heartbreaking experience they had to endure over the weekend. Not to mention there were three families who had to stay on the second floor of our house. They were our neighbors and, honestly, our house was not big enough for them. There were adults, children, and even dogs who had to squeeze themselves for safety.

Now comes Ulysses

I know that even after Ondoy there have been other extreme natural phenomena that the Philippines had to face. However, for now, the sudden flooding took people by surprise as the country is just getting back on its feet after overcoming typhoons Quinta, Rolly, Siony, and Tonyo. The year has not been a peaceful one for millions of people. From the worries of a global pandemic to various local disasters, the end of the year was something many wished to see through for a better tomorrow. Yet, 2020 sure had to cram these typhoons before saying goodbye.

Even my family experienced the seemingly last straw among this parade as our area got flooded as well. Thank God, as we are still safe and relatively better than the rest of the neighborhoods affected by the typhoons.

However, the present still has not presented a good break from all of these as there are still various regions in the Philippines that are flooded. Cagayan Valley, Isabella, and even some metro areas are suffering from the typhoon’s onslaught. I hope and pray that individual Filipinos would not lose hope and get tired of extending a hand in these trying times. Sometimes with too much to handle, people get exhausted and may withdraw from all of these. There is always that security with escaping reality. It is time to reflect and perhaps try to be more understanding, compassionate, and connected to the people even though it is difficult. That fine line to empathy sometimes is so tough to handle as many have not experienced any of the ones they see or hear about in the news. However, there is still time to take a step back to simply detach from our preconceived notions of Philippine reality at present. Try to use a wider lens to not miss any crucial detail that may help us better comprehend the Philippines’ current state, the Filipinos’ needs and struggles, and our own stand in all of these.

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