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.


Also known as: Appreciating the rain

I am not a big fan of rain.

Photo from we heart it.

It’s kind of obvious with what my family and I went through almost 3 years ago. But thinking back, I realized that I never really liked the rain. You know those people who sang and danced and were just pretty joyful whenever the skies open up and release torrents (or not) of water on the earth? I’m not that kind of person. I can only count several times when I really, really liked the rain:

  • Back in elementary and high school, when rain meant no classes. (Didn’t everyone like this?)
  • On the second night of the YFC ILC in Davao back in 2006. We got rained in the first night and that got us all running for cover, but on the second night, the rain came right in the middle of a worship session and we just…stayed there and kept on singing. It was an amazing night despite all of us being soaked to the bone.
    Right after the rain. (YFC South A, circa 2006)

    And there I was, all smiles even if I was soaked. (Circa 2006)
  • And finally, there was that moment during the WYD 2011 vigil. Oh, I was scared at first, but after some time, I was able to calm down and maybe even appreciate the rain just a little bit. After all, we prayed for it, and God just gave the water to us.

Okay, so maybe other than that, there were several times that I liked the rain, and I felt like one of the many, many people who smile when the rain comes. But when you get flooded, and the sound of rains can set off a certain kind of fear in your heart…well, it’s kind of hard to find reasons to smile.

It’s the rainy season again in the Philippines, and as always, I’m wary of the impending rains and typhoons that will visit the country. This is one of the many, many times that I miss summer terribly and I can’t help but wish that summer here was just a bit longer. I can’t help but start weather watching again, checking the path of the typhoons and all that. I can’t help but sigh whenever I hear the rains when I wake up, and feel worried about how I’d get to work or how I’d get home.

But you know what? Lately, I feel that that part of me is…well, changing. Okay, maybe a part of it is because I got myself some trusty rain gear in the past months (rain boots from my brother and a pretty good rain jacket just a couple of weeks ago). Somehow, those things just give me comfort that I can at least commute without getting too soaked in the rain. I know this is shallow, but it’s given me a bit of confidence and its made me less annoyed whenever I have to go and commute in the rain.

And there’s another thing. I realized lately that the rains make me appreciate seeing the sun. You know how they say it — you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Or something like that. But being under a rainy spell for a while makes me want to dance for joy whenever the sun decides to peek from the clouds and bless us with its beautiful, beautiful yellow warmth.

So maybe I’m not one of those people who dance in the rain. (I tried once, it wasn’t really my best moment. But I am willing to try again as long as someone dances with me ;) ) But I am one of those people who’s learning to see the rains for what they are — a necessary moment, a much-needed cleansing and a cooling respite that prepares us for when the sun comes out again. :)

Literally, and figuratively. :)