Typhoon Ketsana: Surviving the Deluge

hirty six hours of continuous rain – one month’s worth in less than a day – fell on Manila, submerging 80 per cent of the Philippine capital. The city couldn’t cope, the provinces couldn’t cope, the people coped as best they could.

Jessie Cayabyab. Mary Villaroel. Maribel Aquino. Lino Sabredo.

Although unrecognisable, these are the names of some of the people making the headlines from the Philippines.

Tony Mariñas. Leopoldo Bepinosa. Fe Cabiles. Rizaldry Seño.

Each one with an astounding story to tell of surviving the biggest deluge Manila has ever seen. Eighty percent of the Philippine capital submerged.

“Nanay”  Dolores.  Mayette Reas.  Diosdada Reas. 

Flood currents so powerful – they created a whirlpool of mini tsunamis along the city’s streets…  

Rafael Herrera.  Dolores Herrera.  Teofila Mahinay. 

Destroying everything in its path .  Raquel Diotay. Patricio Estojero.  Jennifer Galang. 

25 other provinces across Northern Luzon also under a state of calamity. June Villanueva. Jenilyn de Lara. Millions of dollars in damages. Vilma Arcega. Elsa Doble. Homes. Vehicles. Agricultural land – gone.

36 hours of continuous rain. Nenita Capiño. Dalton Solis. One month’s worth in less than a day. Renato Bonifacio. Madega Eustaquio. The city couldn’t cope. Herminia Blusa. The provinces couldn’t cope. Daneth Reyes. Lorna Sengo. But the people… Wilhermina Bañador. Rostum de Lara… the people… Pido Babor. Marrin Babor… they coped as best they could.

Nora Marcelino. Nimfa Palana. “The flood came all of a sudden…” Corazon Salon. “We thought it was just another storm…” Morillo Ostia. Lander Jacinto. “Waist-deep in seconds…” “Waist deep? No way! It was 4 metres high!” “I had to SWIM to stay afloat!”

Ambrosio Reyes. Joseph Lubang. Conie Diotay. “The rivers over-flowed…the sewage… there was debris everywhere…” Jomel Cabessas. “We had to climb onto our roof and were stranded for hours…”

Marisa Babor. Aida Parra. “There were no rescuers…”

“Rescuers? How could anyone come help us in that torrent?”

Erel Basihan. Josepa Asimas.   “I put the baby in a bag and passed her across a cable to my neighbour on his rooftop…”   Edithta Anyas. Cristina Simpur.   “I tied my children to my waist…”

Mayet Pelayo. Rosalin Bañador.  “ My pregnant neighbour gave birth on the roof in the storm… 8 hours before any help came…”  Samuel Bluzo.  Maylin Alboro. 

“I have nothing left… nothing…”

“I saw my nephew run down the street when the wave came… a rock hit his head then the  electric cables fell…he was all tangled up…electrocuted… he didn’t stand a chance…” 

Elena Bepinosa.  Fr. Danny de los Reyes.  “ Everyone was screaming for help…”    “People tried to toss ropes down a bridge as a family swept by using their roof as a raft… but … they didn’t stand a chance…”  Jimson Alfaras.  Aira Lubang.

“We don’t know who those children are… their bodies washed ashore when the currents slowed… I think they’re from the next town… they didn’t stand a chance…” Anabel Barrera. Dennis Reyes.

“We had to help ourselves…” Marilou Lubang. Obet Jacinto. Maribel Marcelino.

“Yes we helped ourselves…” Angelina Cabusao. “It was the only way…” Maricar. Judy. Noel.

“The only way we stood a chance…” Ramon. Felipe. Eduarda. Diana. John Carlo. Caren.

And the list goes on…

2 million people affected. Over 400,000 displaced. Several hundred killed. A nation pulled together, and stunned out of its apathy. Volunteers from all walks of life. Helping each other, helping themselves. The Filipino spirit of “bayanihan”. Standing together shoulder to shoulder. Rich and poor. Old and young. The government. The insurgent. The priest.

The waters… the deluge… the great equaliser.

Each one with a heart-felt tale to tell … each one wanting to be heard. Their individual stories comprise the collective headline. Like heavy raindrops that make up a tropical storm. A chorus of shared anguish… falling incessantly on parched land. A symphony of sympathy… a celebration of life.

The threads that make up the patchwork quilt. They pulled together…

and survived.

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