Aunnaire Megan Cipre Uyao was supposed to celebrate her first birthday party in Jollibee at Harbor Square branch last September 26, 2009. But because of Typhoon Ondoy, O'naire's parents, Mia and Bobby Uyao, decided to cancel her party and donate the Jollibee party packages to MAGSAYSAY that same day.
September 26, 2009
It was a rainy Saturday morning. Like any other ordinary weekend, my children and I watched cartoons early in the morning together in our house ar Riverside Village, Brgy. Sta. Lucia, Pasig City. At around 10AM, we started preparing our food for lunch. It surprised me when I went out of our house and saw flood starting to get high, which isn’t normal in our village. Some of our neighbors blamed the flood to the excavation of Manila Waters.
When I was preparing at the kitchen, the rug I was stepping on was soaked I though it was just a leak from the sink. I tried to replace it, but after a couple of minutes, it was damp again, so I checked out all the corners of the house. Just then, the flood began to enter. We try to mop it out so that it will not enter my children’s room, but when I saw water coming out of the comfort room, I immediately called my brother-in-law so that he could come over to get my children and bring them to their house where it was safer.
We put everything on our house’s high places. We thought that if flood will continue to fill our house, it would reach up to knee level. We left and had lunch at my in-law’s house. When we came back, the water had already reached our sofa, so we put everything on our bed but still the water got higher. My in-laws started to help us get necessary things such as my children’s milk and some clothes good for 2 days. Meanwhile, flood water continued to enter our house, so we put our refrigerator, washing machines, electric fan, and other appliances about a table high. In a minute, our refrigerator tilted and fell in water. The only thing we could do at that time was to get all the food we could get. I tried to get back to our room to get additional clothes, but my husband grabbed me out of the house because the flood was almost chest level. He told me to leave everything. In a matter of 2 hours the water immersed all the things that we had.
September 27, 2009
It was a terrible morning; I didn’t even get enough rest because of the fear that the flood might reach us at the 2nd floor. “2 steps na lang”, I thought. Thank God the flood stopped rising! All power was cut. It was hard to get cellular phone signal, so I decided to go up the roof of the 2nd floor, and it shocked me when I saw that all houses and vehicles around us were submerged in the flood. I tried to contact my co-employees just to inform that I might not come to work by Monday. I tried to keep calling until I reached Ms. Ynas, our company nurse. I asked her for a favor to tell our boss that I might not come to work that Monday due to flood. Ms. Ynas informed me that Metro Manila was totally devastated by flood. She asked me if I needed to evacuate or need any help. I told her that we’re okay. After that call, I tried to call my family at Bulacan but there was no way to reach them. I started feeling hopeless, fearing for my sister’s welfare who was 8 months pregnant, my father, and my 3-year-old nephew.
We stayed and waited for the whole day, trying to call all our relatives. At night, we prayed rosary.
September 28, 2009
On Monday morning, the flood subsided. We tried to go back to our house, but the door was difficult to open. My husband had to forcefully open the door and when finally it did, we were saddened when we saw our things. We didn’t even know where to start again! I tried to go outside the village to buy water for my children, then I saw that many of the families in our area were also waiting for relief goods, looking for open stores to buy food from. It was a terrible experience. I had to go back without anything. We waited until somebody came to our house, and asked them if they could buy us potable water. Kindly, they said “Yes” to our favor. Mr. Sam Suarez called and checked if my family was okay, and Ms.Ynas continuously monitored our situation.
After 2 days, Thursday, I tried to call my family in Bulacan. Finally, I got to talk with my sister and she said that they’re okay. Thank God, I sighed in relief.
In a blink of an eye, everything we worked hard for was gone. But we knew that we had to be strong and start again somewhere. So, we started by cleaning up the mess inflicted by Typhoon Ondoy, grateful for the safety of everyone we loved and hopeful for a better and brighter future.
The group assembled in MAGMOL Office yesterday, Oct 4, Sunday at 6AM together with other groups helping for the relief operations for typhoon Ondoy victims.
After filling the van with more or less 130 packs of relief goods in WalterMart Quezon City consisting of rice, coffee, bread, noodles, canned goods & detergent/bath soap, the group went ahead to Rizal Province.
First stop, Taytay Rizal, we were able to meet and distribute goods for Mr Emiliano Q. CENTILLAS, his family and neighbors were happy to receive the relief goods. Also in Taytay Rizal we met & gave help to Mr. Raul Libres’ family & neighbors. They were very thankful same with Mr. Rogelio Israel’s family.
Next, we went to Binangonan Rizal where we assisted Brgy. Libis with Mr. Rolando Cloza Jr. & Mr. Christian Cervo. Around 30 families were given goods from MOL.
We also visited the flooded neighborhood of our utility, Kuya Benjie. We helped his neighbors & their families. They were glad to receive them. We learned also from some crews in Rizal that they were not affected by flood.
Since not all help from the TV networks & NGO’s come to far-fetched areas in Laguna, we decided to go for them since we were just an hour from there. On our way to Laguna, we distributed packs of goods to deeply affected families of Rizal. Milk, coffee and biscuits were given to depressed areas & families.
It was quite a rainy day again yesterday when we were on the way to Laguna. We continued giving away small help for the families on our way. We visited Brgy. Burgos in Pakil, Laguna which is still under flood waters over 5ft-high. Most families there stay in evacuation center near the brgy. We distributed around 30 packs of goods.
We also visited Paete, Laguna, my hometown where the most affected families in Brgy. Ibaba & Bagumbayan stayed in the second floor of the town’s wet market. Schools were also flooded as it is very near to Laguna de Bay. According to Brgy officials, the town similar with other towns affected by flood might get back to normal set-up two to three months from now since the flood cannot subside. The flooded areas of Laguna are in the levels of Laguna de Bay that is why affected areas & houses may wait until the water of the bay subsides pulling the flood.
Last stop, Sta. Cruz, Laguna, the capital town of the province where we gave away 25 packs of goods which some families of the depressed areas especially in Brgy. Monserrat & Pantalan would benefit. We wanted to go to Sta. Rosa and San Pedro Laguna to distribute some goods but we cannot pass through their heavy flooded streets.
All in all, seeing the huge effects of the typhoon made our hearts break. But at least thru MOL & MAGMOL, we were able to help and reach-out to families in much need. Thank you to MOL & MAGMOL.
It is unusual for me to wake up at five in the morning on a Sunday. Normally, I enjoy my weekends by overindulging in sleep. However, last Sunday, it’s a different story. I get up at five in the morning to participate in an activity with a noble cause. I gladly spare few hours of my sleep to join the Ondoy Relief Operations of MagMOL and Homer Foundation. Before I headed to Magsaysay office in Kalaw, I grab my camera to help me document this experience.
As soon as I get to the office, I saw MPs from MagMOL and different fleets as well as Cadets already busy in carrying and loading the goods to service vehicles. I was impressed to see those numbers of goods that will be given away to people who are in need. Before we finally go to Marikina, we dropped by at Waltermart to pick up even more goods to be distributed. I was overwhelmed to see the amount of goods placed in the lower ground parking lot of Waltermart. I, myself was touched to know that there are people who are so good that they are willing to share their blessings with other people especially in this time of crisis. It took awhile for all of us volunteers to load those goods in the service vehicles. Male and female MPs enthusiastically carried those packed goods and canned biscuits. Sweats were all over their face, yet you can still see in their eyes their willingness and involvement in the activity.
I joined the team who went to Marikina. Our operation was lead by Captain dela Santa of MagMOL. He coordinated with a Barangay Personnel and with Counselor Ortiz. Together with them and other MP volunteers we headed to Dela Peña, one of the most badly affected areas in Marikina. I can not help but saddened by the sight of devastated Marikina. The used to be clean city is no longer clean. We passed by at the bridge wherein many people were found lifeless. Houses were shattered. I also failed to see happy smiles that I used to see whenever I go there to visit a friend.
In Dela Peña, you can not see the pavement in their streets anymore. You can see that the houses there were submerged in the flood due to the soil marked even in their roofs. As soon as our service vehicles stopped in the middle of the street, people gather in an instant. People were asked to form a line and we start giving away the relief goods that we have for them. One by one people received their relief good and before they finally leave the line, they would always express their gratitude to us. Their sad smile somehow put off our exhaustion. It’s always been good to feel that even in my own little ways, I get to extend a helping hand and make other people happy. It’s fulfilling and rewarding.
The sight of this old woman moved me. I guess she was the oldest person to line and to receive one of our relief goods. I was glad to see her there, at least she is one of among fortunate and blessed people who managed to survive despite the flash flood her town experienced. But then it was also heart breaking to see her there. She is so old and yet she needs to go out to ask for some relief good that she and her family might need.
As much as we want to go down the car, we could not because there were no slippers available that we can use. But I really wanted to take pictures so that I may have photos I can use in my blog. I decided to climb up the van and there I was able to take pictures of the streets in Dela Peña.
This is how the street in Dela Peña looks like. People either wear boots or walk bare footed. I was also able to take a shot while one of the volunteers handed a canned biscuit to a resident.
More than two hundred of packed goods were given away that morning. Everyone there was happy. Although there were some people who were not able to get relief goods, they were able to get t-shirts instead. I can not blame other residents there who took advantage of the line. There were some I recognized that received goods twice or thrice. But at the end of the day, everyone is grateful and happy.
Before going back to Manila, we noticed that we did not totally dispose the shirts. There were still more shirts to give. What the group did, we went to Barangka Elementary School and donate the remaining shirts to evacuees. There were more or less ten families staying in the school but we learned from them that they were about to leave because classes will resume the following day. I was glad to know that at least we are not too late to give something to them.
This experience I had will always remind me to be giving. It’s true that, it’s best to give than to receive. It does not mean that sharing or giving involves money. Your time, your concern and your involvement will always be meaningful when you share it with others who are in need. I also realized that when someone does us a big favor, we don’t just pay it back, pay it forward to spread the spirit of giving and sharing.
It was September 25, 2009. Except for the news about the incoming Typhoon "Ondoy", the day started like any other normal Saturday for us - bring my wife to teach Comm Arts students at St. Joseph's College, and accompany our only child to UST for her violin lesson. Since Ima's violin class was scheduled later at 12noon, I decided to report for work tagging her along.
Rains became heavy on our way to Tondo, and the water inside the OneStop container yard started to rise. By that time, I already received a message that Ima's lesson had been cancelled due to the floods in Espana.
At around 10:00am, the typhoon continued to unleash its fury. According to news reports, the heavy downpour was quite unusual for the last 43 years. Then suddenly I remembered my parent's house in Village East Subd. in Cainta, an actual catchbasin of floodwater in Rizal. I called them up but the PLDT line was busy. I tried calling my brother's mobile phone but to no avail. I hooked up with Joy Caballero, an officemate who lives in the same village. By her own account, water was already one-storey high along the main road, forcing them to move to the second floor of their two-storey house. But ours was a Bungalow-type residence! They'd be trapped inside the house if the water continued its rise. Instead of getting alarmed, I assured myself that they'd be okay. or so I thought.
After ensuring that the cargoes at the CY were protected from the floods and the skeletal team in place, we decided to go home and fetch my wife. Like any other motorists, we were trapped for 5 hours in the monstrous traffic jam due to the flood.
Upon reaching our QC home, I made an attempt to call Cainta and then my brother's phone. It was all an exercise in futility. For countless times, I called up Manila Bulletin where my father is a correspondent for 33 years, only to be just another fruitless effort. Relatives were already texting, inquiring about the condition in Cainta. I felt so helpless. There were no electricity and telecommunications in all affected areas. Media reports were not helpful either. Grim stories by typhoon victims made my sleepless
nights more terrifying. I was totally blind to what really happened to my father and brother. Technology was no match to nature's wrath. Cellphones could be lifesavers only if they have power and signal.
On my bed I prayed the rosary, hoping they'd be okay. Then I cried. Rescue operations never got far as Cainta. I just lost my mom to cancer only a year ago, and I didn't want to undergo the same painful ordeal again. Not yet. I was hiding my tears from my wife and daughter because I had to appear strong for them. "Tomorrow we will see for ourselves what really happened
in Cainta", I bravely told myself.
Next day was a Sunday. All roads to Cainta were shocking sights. Indeed, all hell broke loose when nature's wrath wrought havoc. Houses along Marikina River were literally washed out. People who got stranded were covered with filth and mud, carrying with them whatever possession they could salvage from the flood. All were in a state of shock. Then an MMDA traffic enforcer stopped our vehicle to tell us that Felix Ave. remained impassable. We had no choice but to abort our plan. We went instead to my office at Tondo to see and take pictures of the extent of the damage on the facility. I was already restless. With a new assignment, I wanted to prove my worth and impress my superiors. I wanted to show to that I was always on top of the situation, be it with my professional or personal life. I wanted to be strong in both worlds.
During the mass, the philosophical side of me started to question the situation, "Why is this happening to us?" Having studied in the seminary, I had always showed resilience and courage that make me survive life's crisis. But this time I felt so helpless and weak. In my reflection something struck me! We could always hope! Here I was in front of Christ Who represents hope. Hope is what we need amid this chaos.
Then my phone rang. It was Ynas, our company nurse, who told me that rescue operations had been organized to assist employees' relatives. That was my cue. After I'm done with the clean-up operations and assessing the damage at the CY, I would join the rescue team. At that moment, I feel blessed to be part of the Magsaysay family. Not even multinational companies I know dared to send a rescue team to the inundated towns. Since I was familiar with Cainta, I was designated team leader of the rescue team.
With relief goods on hand, my heartbeat was racing fast as we were nearing our village. First stop was the house of Joy Caballero. She cried when she saw us. I hugged her for she was the only link to my father at the height of the storm. I could sense that her tears were those of relief and joy. Relief for she never thought her family could survive the onslaught of "Ondoy". And joy for she finally saw us again, her Magsaysay family. At that moment, I held back my tears. I hated to be emotional, wanting to
appear strong as ever.
Next stop was my parent's house that became a total mess. The appliances, my trophies and family memorabilia were totally washed out. The old pictures may have been gone forever but the memories remain.
My brother saw me first. His gloomy face was a picture of hardship and hopelessness. I could not blame him. With my mother's passing, he has been living alone with my father. Theirs is not a rosy relationship. During the typhoon, he and my father stayed in the house for two days with waters that went up to neck-deep level at one point. They did not dare evacuating the place because the flashflood was too strong for them to cross the street. I had hoped that they bonded well during the storm.
Inside the dark gloomy master's bedroom, there I saw the frail body of my father. Tears rolled down my eyes. Like the wreckage brought by the typhoon, this once proud reporter of Manila Bulletin looked totally washed out himself. He could barely walk as his swollen feet were under water for two days.
He smiled when he saw me. That was all I need. See them alive. I wanted to hug him but we were not brought that way. So I just tapped him on the back, assuring him that everything would be okay.
Deep inside I know it will no longer be normal for us. Not normal because I just realized that I have more to give. Since my QC house was spared from the flood, I am the only one who can help them. My resources may be scarce but we always get by, although it will not be easy. Tempers are already rising. People are getting sick. The wallet is thinning. Relationships can get sore. I had to be strong for them.
Most oftentimes we complain about our job, money and relationships, but this disaster taught us that there are more important things in life. Those are family, our relationship with God and charity for the less fortunate. Despite our differences, I love my father and brother. When my mother was alive, we shared happy moments together. When she died, we grieved and cried together.
For a family raised through hard work, we learn to be prudent at an early age. I realized it is better that way because it is less painful. While other victims lost their prized possessions due to the typhoon, my parents got nothing to lose. No car, no fat bank accounts, no well-off relatives. Their old house is left standing, but its luster had already faded away when my mother died a year ago.
What we have left is hope.
Last September 26, 2009, we all faced the wrath of Typhoon Ondoy and together, we endured in varying conditions. While some of us were lucky enough to be spared, others were not as lucky.
But from out of the disaster brought by Typhoon Ondoy, the best of our Magsaysay People emerged. MPs stepped beyond the imaginable and showed the WE CARE spirit of MAGSAYSAY.
We invite you to tell us your story and share your experiences of survival and triumph after the storm with your fellow MPs through this blog. With your stories, we hope to spread awareness and inspiration.
You can share your stories with us in three ways:
1) You can write your comments on this blog or start a topic or react in the forum;
2) You can write about it and send it to us; and
3) You can tell it to us personally or send us the details of your experience and we will write it for you.
We would really appreciate it too if you could send us some photos taken during your experience.
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