Tag Archives: flood

Ondoysary

Allow me to use a common introduction to horror stories to start this post: This time last year, it was a dark and stormy night.

This time last year, my parents, my best friend and I were carrying our important belongings through chest deep flood water across the street to our neighbor’s house, where they have been waiting for us to evacuate for a while now. The rain won’t stop, and we carried all the important things that we can to their house, where they welcomed us in one room. We cleaned up, changed and prayed and listened to the rain pour down. My parents fell asleep, but my best friend and I were too antsy to do so. We talked in hopes of calming our own fears and listened and prayed for the rain to stop so the water will not go up anymore.

I was expecting the worst the next day. We woke up to this, our house submerged, on our street that has never flooded for the 20 years we’ve lived there:

One year ago.

I’ve been afraid of typhoon season starting ever since that day. Hard rains freak me out, and I find myself always, always praying for sun, and stopping myself from complaining about the heat. Better heat than flood, right?

I always said that I just need to get through this one year anniversary without any major calamity and I will be okay. Just that, and I think I can really, and fully move on. I don’t know how I could say that, but I’m big on dates and anniversaries and all that. I’m not a human calendar for nothing, you know.

But you know what? I will never really know if there will be another Ondoy. It doesn’t matter how much weather watching I do — if there’s another one, it will come and I am only human. I can’t stop it from happening. I can only do so much, I can only prepare myself so much and read about all the life insurance premiums and acts of God on insurances I can read about, but in the end, it’s all…well, God’s. He commands the weather, and everything else in this world, after all.

Ondoy really changed my life last year, and even if I know I’d rather not experienced it, I am still thankful that it happened. I don’t think I would be the person I am right now if I didn’t. I still don’t understand why it happened to us, to me. I don’t know if I will ever understand it, at least in this lifetime. But it doesn’t really matter if I understand it, or know why it happened. It’s kind of hard to explain, but trying to figure it out will just stress me out, when I can just rest in the fact that God knows and God understands and He will never ever give me anything that I can’t handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). So…why worry, right?

I will never forget what happened on September 26, 2009. I refuse to forget because I don’t want to forget how it changed me and the lessons I have learned. It will always be a part of me. But I will also refuse to worry about it happening again. My God is bigger than any other typhoon or calamity, and I rest in the fact that He is always in control, and He understands even if I do not.

I don’t know if I have thanked everyone who helped, prayed and listened to me and my family during the entire ordeal and after — if I haven’t, well, THANK YOU. You were all God’s blessings to us. Thank you, thank you.

It’s been a year, and I am never more happy when I woke up and saw sunlight shining through my window. :)

And for the record, I want to say that despite all that happened last year, I’m not an Ondoy victim. I’m a survivor. :)

Blessed be His name.

Read other Ondoy related entries in Refine Me:

Related posts and such in the world wide web:

Aftershocks

day twenty-four.

Today was sort of kind of freaky in different levels, almost like 2012 movie like freaky. That, and bad memories of the flood — yeah, I’m pretty shaken right now.

I got to work this afternoon a bit earlier than the usual, because of the scheduled fire drill for today. I was glad to have arrived before the said time of the fire drill, and I was planning to buy food as soon as we go down for the drill, just so I won’t run into any hassles. Then, my teammate asks, “Nararamdaman niyo yun?” (Can you feel it?)

Apparently, there was an earthquake.

And the building was swaying. For a long time.

With all the earthquakes that happened in the past months (Haiti, Chile), it’s very scary to be suddenly feeling an actual earthquake. Honestly, it doesn’t faze me as much, even before, because I know that the buildings here are kind of safe. But that earthquake was long…and well, just plain scary.

A few hours later, I had to attend a meeting for my boss, and it was about our account’s business continuity planning. The fancy term just means the plan in case something big – ex. a calamity – happens that prevents us from going to work, or doing work. Anyway, there was a simulation in the meeting where we simulate an event where the plan was activated…and guess what the situation was? A typhoon, with a flood.

Hello, hurricane.

Needless to say, I was creeped out. Sometimes I think I’m already over the entire flooding event, but whenever I’m reminded that there is a big possibility that it could happen again…it just scares me. I know it’s selfish of me to not wish for rain…but I can’t help it. I’m scared of it, at least, any type of typhoon, now. I’m terrified of the thought that it may happen again, that we might see our house submerged in flood all over again. They say it’s a hundred-year flood, meaning it won’t happen in another hundred years…but how sure are they about that? What if another typhoon comes and drops huge amounts of rain on us…what if?

I don’t think I blogged about it, but a couple of weeks ago, we had a fire scare at home, so we had to turn off the electricity at home to have it checked. As I was going around the house in darkness with my iPod flashlight, packing my stuff, I was reminded of that day a few months ago, when I went around the house in darkness with my iPod flashlight, and rain was pouring outside, and my feet were underwater. It was scary.

I have to trust God that He would protect us again…but in a way, I can’t help but wish for something concrete, something that I can actually hold on to that would tell me that we wouldn’t have to go through what happened that September day.

I’m still shaken at the thought of experiencing the flood again and yes, even the earthquake…but worrying about things like this is a waste of time. I need to stop doing that, and I need to turn my eyes to the One who holds today and tomorrow and eternity. I need to turn my eyes to Him and give all my fears to Him and trust that He will take care of us. He will protect us. Trust and believe that He is bigger than anything in this world.

I guess that’s faith, you know. That’s what it is about having faith and trusting God and all that — trusting that He will protect you even in the midst of all uncertainties. In calamities like these, I can only do so much, and in the end God still has the final say (Come to think of it, He always has the final say). Having faith means believing that He will carry you through even if you don’t know what will happen. It means trusting Him in the darkness — figuratively and literally. It means believing that God will be enough, and He will enable me to make it through.

*breathes deeply*

It’s been a while since I last posted this on a blog entry, but if you can spare a prayer for me, please do. Help me pray for peace, because I think that’s one thing I really, really need right now.

Hello, Hurricane

Hello, world!

I meant to post soon again after my last post, but work and my new shift got in the way. When the weather is like this, I like being on day shift, but my body clock is making it hard for me to adjust. I realized when I was looking in the mirror after my work out earlier that the dark circles under eye are back. Hello, eyebags.

On another note, Switchfoot released their latest studio album last week, entitled Hello Hurricane. Remember those Mess of Me CDs that I hid a couple of months ago (where did those go, anyway?) ? This is where this song is included.

Hello Hurricane
I bought the deluxe version of the album through iTunes (of course, get the real thing!) when it was released and listened to them in passing. Then I was distracted by Mae, so it took only today to really listen to this new album.

Then I read the story about what the title track was about from Jon Foreman himself…and guess who almost started crying? (Emphasis mine, btw)

This is a subject matter that I speak of with holy reverence. Having grown up on the East Coast I know firsthand of the houses lost, of the dreams turned into nightmares. I take my shoes off and recognize that this is a matter that is dear to our nation, especially of late- with every passing hurricane season. Last year, with Habitat for Humanity we helped to build a house for a woman who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane had taken her city, her house, and her leg. As she relocated to Baton Rouge and learned how to walk as an amputee, her mantra was this: “I walked out of my house and my life in New Orleans on my own legs, I’m going to walk into this one the same way.” This is the spirit that I wanted to capture with this song, and moreover with this record. The storms of life might take my house, my loved ones, or even my life- but they cannot silence my love.

Yes, the reactionary impulses of hate, fear, and despair really are defenseless against the storms of this life. And yet, this selfless love really might be stronger than death. Perhaps, the kingdom of the heavens really is at hand, ready to give, ready to love. And with this love as my song I will overcome. In surrender to divine love I will find my strength. “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love another.”

After everything that has happened, this song is just so fitting. Hello hurricane, you’re not enough, you can’t silence my love.

If you haven’t gotten the album yet…well get it! :-) Seriously. I hope the CDs get here to the Philippines, everyone could use the hope that Switchfoot sings about in this album.

Hello Hurricane
Switchfoot, Hello Hurricane

I’ve been watching the skies
they’ve been turning blood red
not a doubt in my mind anymore
there’s a storm up ahead
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 is
not enough
you can’t silence my love
every thing I have I count as loss
everything I have is stripped away
before I started building
I counted up these costs
there’s nothing left for you to take away
hello hurricane
you can’t silence my love
I’m a fighter fighting for control
I’m a fighter fighting for my soul
everything inside of me surrenders
you can’t silence my love
hello hurricane
you can’t silence my love

Lessons from the Flood # 2: God's Plans

A couple of months ago, a few days before Father’s Day, we heard news from my dad that his house got robbed in Saipan. When he got home from mass, he found that his window was broken, and a lot of things were taken inside, including his passport because the case looked like a wallet.

It was scary to learn that even in other countries these things are also possible, especially in a small island of Saipan. I’ve been there a couple of years ago and it’s pretty peaceful, so hearing about the robbery is kind of shaking, especially to my Mom.

For the next weeks/month, my mom questioned why it happened. We prayed for the robber and prayed most especially for the passport to be returned. It wasn’t returned, so my dad had to get a new passport and then schedule a flight back here to fix his US Visa. Since doesn’t have a US Visa, he can’t get his normal flight back home so he had to choose another airline which has lesser frequent flights coming from where he was, and he found a specific schedule so he could be home to fix his Visa¬† – September 20 to October 4.

On the morning before the flood, I woke up early, with all intentions of going to the gym to attend Body Combat class. I slept really late the night before, so I was very lethargic in the morning. My brother had a baptism to go to, and I was planning to ride with him out to the gym, but decided in the last minute not to go because I was too sleepy. We noticed the rains when my brother left, so he told me he’ll text me in case it’s already flooded at our village’s entrance. Minutes later, I got a message that it was indeed flooding already, so I stayed home. I cancelled all my plans for the morning and the rest of the day, and instead planned to go with my family to reserve a venue for my brother’s wedding.

I was all happy in the morning, too, because my friends and I were booking our flights to Palawan on December. However, when I got out after booking my flight, I noticed something weird in the street. Then my dad said, “Look, water’s rising in the gutter.”

That just about stopped me from celebrating.

And then we know what happened after.

The morning after the flood, my parents told me to stay at our neighbor’s while they started cleaning up. Everytime I went out and I saw the flood waters and the state of our house, I felt like crying. And I cried. Because how could it have happened to me? To us? Why now? Why us?

I prayed that afternoon, and as I did, I began to see some puzzle pieces falling into place:

  • If my dad didn’t get robbed, he wouldn’t have flown home to fix his Visa and he wouldn’t have been here to help us and be calm during the flood. If it were only me and my mom home? I don’t know what we would’ve done.
  • If I didn’t feel lethargic in the morning, I would have gone to the gym and would have been stranded with the rest of the people in the mall because of the flood that submerged the basement of Robinson’s Metro East.
  • If my brother had stayed home and not gone to the baptism (that didn’t push through, by the way), our car would have been at home and it would’ve been submerged in the flood, too.

I know there are more things, but these three items were enough to tell me that all the things that happened — they’re connected. And all these things fit into God’s plan, a plan bigger than I could ever understand.

Sometimes I still find myself questioning why all these happened to us…but then I hold on to the hope that this event is also connected with another event that only God knows. But that’s where I just have to trust. I mean, regardless of what happened, we’re still pretty blessed — all our losses are just material things, and we actually managed to save a lot (things that definitely has more value than cheap health insurance). I still have a home, we’re all safe and the things we lost…are just things. And those chain of events just mean that He’s watching and taking care of us all the time.

I may not understand why everything happened, but I think it’s enough that God knows and understands. I don’t have to understand everything anyway, I just have to trust Him — trust that He has plans for me, for us, and it’s for our good.

Blessed be His Name. :)

NaNoWriMo 2009: Week 1

With all the hoopla of the flood and all that, I almost skipped National Novel Writing Month this year. I know I have been talking about it before everything happened and I was really excited about it even if I have zero plot…but after the flood, I didn’t feel like writing.

But of course I had to pull myself together. If I were just a normal, official participant, I could have skipped this year and do it next year instead. But I’m not. I’m a Municipal Liaison for the Philippines for NaNoWriMo and not participating this year also meant that there would be no one to handle the region for 2009.

And I feel like I owe the Pinoywrimos a good year despite what happened.

So…two weeks after the flood, we met, planned and now it’s November. How fast time flies.

One good thing about the flood is I actually found a plot. I’d have to thank my best friend Toni for his experience during Ondoy that felt like a perfect scene in a novel. Of course I’m putting a flood in the novel. It seems…fitting.

This year’s title is Keep the Faith, under Chick-lit (what’s new? :p). I suck at writing summaries, but here’s the basic blurb of my novel for this year:

What would you do if the life you knew is washed away?

Faith Alvarez is set for life: she has a job that doesn’t feel like a job, awesome friends and a boyfriend that she’s wants to spend the rest of her life with. Her family can use a bit more improvement, but she’s not the one to complain about that with how her life is going. There’s nothing else she could have asked for…until God pulls a Job on her.

When Faith’s boyfriend breaks up with her on their second anniversary, she thinks nothing else could get worse, until other things are thrown her way. She gets paired up with one of the most immature people at work and loses her work partner to a newbie who intends to show her up. She hides from her friends who wouldn’t understand what she’s going through, and her mom starts calling her again insisting she quits her job and get a higher-paying one.

Faith knows she’s strong enough and she has God to hold on to in times of crisis, but how much more can she take? And what if God decides that it’s not yet enough? Will her she be able to keep her faith and believe it will pull her through?

I’m recycling characters from my (still unfinished) 2006 NaNoWriMo novel. This is set about two years after the 2006 novel (still deciding if there will be a story in between that, like maybe Meah trying to pay off some student loans, but let’s see), with Faith as the central character. The storyline is actually based on Job’s story. I know it’s kind of overused already — much like Hosea and Gomer — but honestly, I don’t care. I don’t think this will see publishing light (not yet, anyway), but I want to write this story down. To exorcise some demons, or something like that. :P

To be honest, I feel like I’m too slow in writing this year as compared to last year. I remember hitting 5000 on my first day, but this year, I barely reached halfway. I’m way beyond my word count quota, but the slowness of my pace is something new. Then again I have more work this year…so it’s a different story.

I do have a different feeling with this story, though. I managed to outline a bit more this year and I actually have a pseudo-outline up to Chapter 8! That is so new. I kind of have a feeling that I will be able to actually finish this novel by end of November and not leave it hanging like three other works in progress I have now. That gives me some hope. :P

I’ll be posting some excerpts and character guides or whatever novel related information here sometime soon. But right now…I really have to work. I’ll squeeze in some writing time later. ;)

Lessons from the Flood # 1: I care.

So, after Ondoy and everything else that happened, I realized one thing (out of the many things).

I care.

I talked about my being apathetic a couple of months ago, when things are still…well, normal. This is sort of the post that is a follow up on that, and I honestly still don’t know how to write it down correctly…but let me try.

Ever since Former President Cory Aquino passed away, I’ve felt a bit disturbed. Not disturbed because of her death, but disturbed at how I’ve been acting for the past 23 years of my life. Like I said, I’m never the one to make a stand or care about what happens around me, unless it affected me directly. I rarely care about politics, or elections and all those stuff. I used to say it’s because I don’t believe in anything anymore and it’s my right not to care, but now as I look back, I realized that it’s just plain laziness to care about these things.

So when Cory passed away, I felt that I owed her something. Here’s a woman who did everything in her power so I will be born in a freer country. Here’s someone who held onto her ideals and cared about the country and her fellowmen, even if it feels like its hopeless. I never knew her personally, but I felt like I have to respond to that, to rise up to some kind of challenge and somehow say that what she did way back and up to her death wasn’t wasted.

So by August, I finally shook a bit of my apathetic self — the one who said she’d never vote — and went to our municipal hall to register.

Now, registering is another story in itself, so let’s skip that. When I first got that piece of paper that signifies I am now a registered voter, it didn’t feel like it was a big deal first. Until a couple of days later, I realized how much power that little piece of paper has. It meant I had a voice. I had a say in what happens in the country. It gave me a reason to care, because I realized how important my vote would be in 2010. It may be just one vote, but sometimes it takes only one vote to make a whole lot of difference.

I was determined to make sure that my vote would count and I’d vote for someone who would have the country’s best interests at heart. I thought that that determination was enough…but God had to bring another circumstance in my life to make me think more.

I guess we can say God literally used waters to wake me up even more. It’s one thing to be a volunteer to help the victims of a calamity. Being a victim changes everything. As a volunteer you want to try to help relieve other people even if it’s only temporary. As a victim, your main concern becomes finding a permanent solution to prevent what has happened. A lot of the permanent solution may lie with the victim/survivor itself — like move out from an area that always gets flooded and into someplace safer, like Tucson apartments — but there’s a lot more that the government can do given their resources.

And I want someone who can help give a permanent solution. Not just a band-aid, but an actual fix.

It’s highly idealistic, I know, but that’s really not my point. The point is, because of the flood, I’ve learned to care even more. I am determined to make my vote count, and to make sure I use my power to do my best to help put the right person in the positions in 2010.

Not only that, but I’ll be doing what I can do help to make things better. I will start taking a stand, even if it means I’ll be shot down at some point. It’s because I care. And if every single one of us would care about something, well, I’m pretty sure a lot of amazing things will happen. We just have to choose to care.

I remember one line that I got from a YFC conference years ago that struck me: If you don’t stand for anything, you will fall for everything.

I don’t want to fall for everything anymore.

Because of the flood, I will start caring.

Christmas Air

Did you feel it yesterday? And this morning? The air. It’s cold. Not rainy cold, but Christmas cold.

That definitely made my week. :)

It’s been a month today. I’m staying at our house now, and even if I don’t have a bed (or a desk) and my room still needs to be sorted out (as well as all the other clothes), I’m good. I’m starting to get back to the groove of the old things, and I’m learning to let go and trust more now. At least, I think so. :) I think I have found a new devotion to the Rosary, though. How many times have I found that praying the rosary helps me focus on the One bigger than all of this? I’d like to believe that God answered our prayers by sparing the country from Ramil. So thank You.

I still mean to post more thoughts on everything I learned, but right now my mind is being consumed by three things: work, work out and NaNoWriMo. How about that. This is probably why I end up having dark circles under my eyes, because I can’t sleep with everything I’m thinking about! I promise to post about them though. :D

But all is good. :D That Christmas air just assured me that everything will be all right.

So did you feel it?

Checking In

Hi friends. I’m still alive. *waves*

Exactly three weeks ago, my life changed.

I never thought I’d say that line above in all seriousness. I mean, I’ve had life-changing experiences but it was never of this gravity. Sometimes I still feel like it’s so surreal,¬† but little reminders get to me every now and then. Every time I go home, I see how everything was turned upside down to clean the house. Every time I go “home” to the condo, I remember the reason why I’m there. Whenever I see tweets, read messages or hear news about how relief operations are going, or God forbid, another storm is coming, I remember what happened that Saturday, when the flood came.

It sounds so dramatic and all, but I believe everyone’s lives were changed by the flood. Even if they didn’t experience it firsthand, it’s really something that took us all by surprise and threw everything out of whack. Every time I try to remember something before three weeks ago, I feel like it’s such a faraway memory, that I’m not even sure of the exact details anymore.

Yes, my life changed that night. And I’m thankful.

I wanted to make a long post about the things I learned from this entire thing, but I’ve got some stuff to do for now. The past weeks have been terribly busy with work, NaNoWriMo preparations, cleaning up and moving from one place to another, that sometimes I forget to breathe and I feel like I’m all rushed. But that’s life, gotta deal with it. I promise to post about all this, though, once I can breathe easily, and maybe, maybe at that time, I can finally look back at the entire experience without any bitter or sad or scared feeling.

I’ll be okay. We’ll all be okay. God will definitely lead us through this, and I believe in it with my whole heart.

So just checking in. :)

And on a final note…RAMIL, GOD IS STILL BIGGER THAN YOU. :)

Stay safe, everyone.

I feel like I'm Job

For those who are curious: I live in Cainta.

Obviously I’m blogging so you know I’m okay. Normally rains don’t bother me except the fact that it’s so hard to commute, because our village entrance usually gets flooded and I get stranded inside the village. Plus rains mean brownout and no internet, so you know.

Saturday gave me a whole new reason to be scared of rains. I woke up with a plan to do the following: go to the gym, go to NaNoWriMo volunteers’ meeting, then buy the bag I want and go home. However, I woke up late so I didn’t get to ride with my brother so I told myself I’d just commute. He then warned me to not go out anymore, so I just went online to book flights for our Palawan trip this December. I knew there was a typhoon but I didn’t think much of it, since it’s just rains and like I said, it doesn’t flood in our street. I cancelled the meetings and was fully prepared to be inside the house the entire day and enjoy the bed weather with my new books…but then a few hours later, I went out and my dad said, “Look, water’s rising up to the gutter.”

Again, let me reiterate: we never get flooded in our street.

By lunchtime, water was beyond our gutter, and by three in the afternoon, water was in our garage. Four, water was inside our house. By eight, we crossed waist-deep flood to get to our neighbor’s second floor with our valuables and prayed for the rain to stop.

Waking up the next morning was surreal. Our house…is…I can’t describe it. The things we put up so they won’t get wet tumbled down into the water anyway. My brother’s camera got wet because we didn’t see it. Our clothes are safe, thank goodness, but most of our furniture are wrecked. We’ve cleaned up stuff yesterday and today, but we’ve got a long way to go. Some of my books got wet, I lost a lot of files, my brother’s clothes all got soaked. It’s surreal.

I’ve helped out flood victims, but I never thought I would be a flood victim myself. I try to laugh it out and say it’s time to clean up anyway, but tell me: how does one go back to normal after something like this?

I know I’m luckier than the other ones because most of my belongings are saved and we have good neighbors and our house is still intact and everyone I know is safe (well, still waiting for the other people to text). But my heart is unsettled, and I want to be brave but I feel like I can’t. Sometimes I wish I had the power to magically make everything okay, but I can’t. How can I ever go back to functioning normally again after this?

I’m not mad at God, nor I am questioning His purpose. I’m trying very hard to trust Him right now, to trust that this is a part of His plan. I’m trying very hard not to be afraid, but I feel like I will always be afraid whenever there is rain. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sleep soundly with the sound of rain. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to work and hear the rain without worrying about my mom at home. I don’t know if we’ll even be able to restore our home.

It’s just so, so, surreal.

And then I remember Job.

My situation isn’t anything like Job’s of course. He got it so much worse. But there was this verse that I remember from his book that I am trying to hold onto:

I was born with nothing, I will die with nothing. The Lord gave and now He has taken away. May His name be praised! (Job 1:21)

What strength and faith he has to be able to utter that. Imagine me, losing so little and saving so much and I find difficulty to praise and thank God for it. All I could think about is “What next?”

I want to find the strength to be optimistic, to be brave and to start again. I want to be brave for my family and my friends. I don’t know how, but I know I’m out. And I know He’s got more. And He’s bigger than all of this. And He’s the only one I can hold onto in this time.

Interestingly, when we got back after the flood has gone down, we found that the altar in our house wasn’t moved at all. Everything else tumbled down/was wet, but the water didn’t even touch the Bible enthroned on our altar. If that isn’t a sign of God’s strength, I don’t know what is.

I don’t know what will happen next, and I have a feeling I’ll swing from happy to sad and back and I don’t know when we’ll be able to recover from this…but I’m going to try to hold on. I’m going to try to praise God regardless of what happened…because He is God. And I am not. And He knows and understands more than what I can understand now.

It’s going to be a long week. Maybe even months for others. Thanks to everyone who texted and sent a message through all kinds of social networking stuff. :P Thanks to our neighbors who we stayed in for two nights and to everyone in the street who helped out. It’s far from over, so please keep on praying. Not only for us but for the other people who got devastated by Ondoy.

I will do my best to echo Job in this situation. God, please give us the strength to hold on. Please don’t let us go.

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

(Blessed be Your Name, Matt Redman)

We’re okay. We’ll be okay. Other people need more help than we do, so please send donations their way. You can visit Philippineaid.com to see how you can help.