All your dead-end fury is not enough

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.

Image from  EUMETSAT via Flickr
Image from EUMETSAT via Flickr

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.

There’s no place like home

Also known as: Moving back to our new-old house

I made sure I was free from any activities last weekend, not only because I was already running short on funds (payday is still 10 days away, sigh),  but because we were finally, finally moving back to our old house.

My family and I have lived in a one-floor house all our lives, and we were pretty okay about it. My parents didn’t feel the need to have a second floor because we’re not a big family, anyway, and even if our village is flood-prone during typhoon season in the Philippines, our street was pretty much flood-free. That all changed when Typhoon Ondoy (International name Ketsana) visited in 2009.

Our house in waist-deep (or so) flood, the morning after Typhoon Ondoy hit
Our house in waist-deep (or so) flood, the morning after Typhoon Ondoy hit

I’ve written so many posts about Ondoy in the Refine Me Vault, and it’s really no surprise. Ondoy basically changed our lives. It was the first time it flooded where we lived, and for that first time, the flood reached inside our house, forcing us to evacuate to our neighbor’s house to spend the next two nights. The security we had in our home every time a typhoon hits the country is gone. I find myself watching for every typhoon, making sure all important things are elevated, and praying everyday that there wouldn’t be any more floods.

I knew the only way I could get rid of those fears is if we would have a second floor. I was scared to find out one day that I wouldn’t be able to go home because it was flooded again in the house. I can still remember all the days we spent cleaning, how my dad had to wash so many clothes, how my brother and I had to wash and clean plates and photos, how my mom stayed up way past the time she normally stays up just washing and cleaning all our flood-damaged things. It was hard, and even if I know we were luckier than the other people, I can’t help but feel bad about what happened.

Typhoon season in 2010 came, and our house remained the same. I can still remember how many times I checked weather sites and watched for every typhoon, everyday praying for us to be spared. I remember feeling the despair when my parents couldn’t find a contractor that would fit our budget. I remember the stress of everything, knowing that my brother’s wedding is coming up on top of us worrying if we will be able to have our house renovated.

But you know what? God is faithful. I remember one day when I felt a sense of peace as I prayed. I’d like to believe that it wasn’t just me, that God was really telling me He won’t let another Ondoy happen last year because my brother is getting married. It seems silly, I know, but I held onto that, and true enough, nothing happened.

But there was more: as my brother’s wedding drew near, my parents started meeting with contractors that fit the budget and made really good plans for our house. I wasn’t really involved with it so I wasn’t sure with how it progressed, until right after my brother’s wedding, my parents started packing our things. My mom’s friend let us rent their apartment at the end of our street, and pretty soon, we were moving all our things to the tiny apartment and construction started.

That was five months ago.

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