One hell of an experience!
If there’s one lesson the Typhoon Ondoy (International Name: Ketsana) left us, is that a day-long of heavy and continuous rain, even without the strong winds and lightnings, can get really nasty.
I live in Marikina, one of the places in the Metro that was heavily affected by the deluge of Ondoy. I stayed at home that fateful day, unlike most of my friends who risked life and limb to wade through chest-deep, rushing waters just to get home from school. Even if our family wasn’t victimized by the flood as most others, we all felt the effect and the trauma a mere tropical depression like Ondoy had caused.
Yet it seems like I wasn’t spared by circumstances on having to go through the same ordeal that is part of every college student’s life when studying in Manila – braving though the flood and winds just to get home.
Today, our class ended pretty much early. The rain doesn’t seem to plan stopping anytime soon, but instead of going home as reasonable, sane humans do, we’ve got some maggots in our brain to go on duty for our OJT at heart of the capital – Manila.
We did some survey work and a little office work. By 4 PM, we decided to go home because our mentors weren’t at the office. Inside the intramuros, universities were already suspending classes and there was an outpour of students on rush to go home.
My two buddies and I hated the rush hour hassle so we decided to pass some time at SM Manila – our favorite hang-out mall. By the time we get to SM, the flood is beginning to rise up by the roadside. There are so many students crowding in the entrance, staring anxiously at the rain and the flood while pedicab drivers are whooping in excitement for having to earn extra income from customers who wanted to avoid the flood.
An hour later, after spending some time in a cafe shop, we decided to go home, thinking that the rush hour phase is over and the rain may have already stopped.
But man, we were dead wrong.
There were lots of people than it is before. And unlike an hour ago, they have nowhere to go. They are literally stranded, by an ankle-deep flood on both sides as well as on the roads. It’s like SM Manila is marooned on a tiny island surrounded by an ocean complete with big waves generated by the tires of the cars passing by. To go to the other side means wading through it.
My sneakers are already at their worst form. Everytime I stepped on my feet, I’d feel a sickening sticky squish squash. I couldn’t afford to damage my shoes any further by wading through the flood wearing it. I have no choice. I peeled my soaking socks off, folded my pants to the knees, and prepared myself to walk barefoot.
My two friends did the same thing. We stared at the dark, murky flood for one gut-sickening moment then plunged our feet in to the ankle-deep water.
It was damn cold! It was raining hard and our clothes were so soaked that we felt the cold to our bones. Arm-in-arm, we slowly wade through the water while trying to avoid the cars crossing through, yelping and gasping as we blindly navigated through the dark waters. There is no telling if there’s a man hole or some sharp objects that could hurt us. We relied solely on instinct and with each other.
Just imagine, the whole filth of the capital, the garbage stuck in the sewers, dried spits from rude pedestrians, rat pees and maybe human pees, could be on that large pond of a flood and we’re risking our asses wading through it!
Everytime I felt something soft and feathery in my toes, I felt a shudder ran through me. It was one of the most mortifying thing I’ve ever felt. It was the way of nature telling me that yes, I never fully experienced the wrath of Ondoy, but there’s no damn way you’ll spent the rest of your life without having to experience the trauma of the flood.
And yet, it was an experience I’ll never forget. Everytime I go to SM Manila, or walk through the Intramuros, I’ll always remember that moment where nature pushed the qualms out of me, and I have to do whatever it takes, no matter how mortifying, just to get home safe and sound.
Manila is a flood-prone area. Unfortunately, most of the universities and schools are located there. I wish time would come where students don’t have to experience the harrowing moment of unnecessarily braving through the floods. After all, college students are no different to elementary and highschool students.
After all, we’re all humans who haven’t still reached that evolutionary phase of having to develop gills.
After I got home, I doused my legs with my dad’s ethyl alcohol. My dad’s going to kill me for clearing almost half of its contents for my pruned out feet but hey, at least I didn’t have to spend the rest of the night stranded on some place.