When Ondoy happened to us (and the rest of Metro Manila) in 2009, we had to leave our dog Batman at home as we evacuated to our neighbors. Batman wasn’t a friendly dog, so bringing him to the neighbor’s house is not really something we can do. So we left him at home, making sure he had food and water and he was on a table while we crossed the street through waist-deep flood to get to safety. Of course, Batman thought we were leaving him in the midst of that scary night, so he tried to follow us. But we were already gone, and he couldn’t climb back to his table…and I honestly thought I wouldn’t see him alive after that night. He was still alive the next morning, but he was petrified after that. He was so traumatized by the flood that he wouldn’t leave our side while we were cleaning up, and when we tied him outside so he was out of our way, he dug a hole and burrowed there, turning his white coat into…well, brown. Then he would start crying, whining at certain times of the day and we’d wonder if he was just hungry or something. As it turned out, he was whining because he could sense the rain, and he was scared.
Batman recovered from that soon after (but he still hated getting rained on after that), but me? I was terrified of tropical storms and typhoons after that. Like my dog, I was pretty much traumatized with what happened during that flood. I disliked rains with a passion, and whenever the rainy season rolled around, I would pray for the sun everyday, because I didn’t want a repeat of the flood. When there’s an approaching storm, I kept on checking weather reports, and I was the one who kept my friends updated with what I know. I wouldn’t sit still until the storm has passed, and I fretted, worried about so many things and so many people because I really just don’t want Ondoy to happen again.
(And it sort of happened again, with Habagat 2011 and Habagat 2012. But that’s another story.)
There’s a record breaking super typhoon right now. If you Google its name, you’ll see so many articles talking about how “catastrophic” this is, speculations on how much devastation it will leave behind. The world watched as it formed, as it grew stronger and moved — with only the Philippines, my home, in its path.
There isn’t much to say right now, because as of this writing, I am at home, waiting for Metro Manila to feel the wrath of Haiyan/Yolanda. Honestly, I’ve been waiting for it to happen in the last few days, especially since there was nonstop news about it, in an effort to let the people along its path prepare. But as I read and waited and prayed, I realized something: I’m not that scared of rains anymore.
I don’t know exactly what changed, but somehow I started to not really mind it when it starts raining hard. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel as scared as getting flooded here in our house after we had it renovated. Maybe it’s because I know I can automatically head for my brother’s place in case I can’t go home from work. Or maybe I’ve just learned that there’s really only so much I can do with these rains and typhoons, except prepare and pray. It’s not like I’m Storm or something so I can move these weather disturbances away (can she do that?). I can worry myself to tears, but what can it do?
I’ve written about how I’m learning to pick my battles, and Haiyan/Yolanda is another exercise in that. Last night I was fretting about a lot of things, especially because I was supposed to have an event tomorrow, plus some friends were in or are heading for Visayas over the weekend. I felt like maybe I should do something, but I couldn’t come up with anything. So after I read articles, updated myself with the location of the storm until I could no longer take it, and then I sat down and prayed. Because it was really all that I can do where I am right now.
Maybe I’ve learned to not be afraid of the rains because it’s not useful. Maybe, in the past few months, I see the rains and these winds and these typhoons as an opportunity to learn, to prepare and most especially to pray and to trust God that He is still King over the storm. Any storm.
And that it will pass. It will always, always pass.
Sometimes, it takes something like this to teach you what surrender can mean in a more personal level.
I guess that’s what it means to “weather the storm” sometimes.
There’s a super typhoon here right now, and it’s not over until late tonight, or maybe even tomorrow. But like what one of my favorite bands wrote in one of their songs: Hello hurricane, you’re not enough / Hello hurricane, you can’t silence my love / I’ve got doors and windows boarded up / All your dead end fury’s not enough / You can’t silence my love.
Hold on tight, my Philippines.