Remembering Ondoy…and my car

WHO could not remember the wrath wreaked by tropical storm Ondoy in September 26 last year? Imagine the rainfall or exactly some 455 millimeters it dumped for only six hours which was already equivalent to a month’s volume of rain? Almost all of us, that’s for sure especially in Metro Manila, would not fail to recall the devastation it inflicted to lives and properties.

Upon invitation from the San Miguel Polo Brewery, me and at least six of my colleagues at the Camanava Press Corps, of which yours truly is the president, went to its plant in Valenzuela City as early as 6 a.m. in the fateful day where we were met by some of its officials before we headed on board a bus to a quite remote village in the city where a tree planting project took place.

Since no one from among us particularly the brewery executives would have any intuition that a furious typhoon was coming as only drizzles fell and the weather seemed to be fine at the time so we proceeded and, of course, I had first to park my Toyota Altis inside the plant leaving it behind with a peace of mind that it would be in safer hands rather than parking it outside.

But before we could reach Bignay village maybe two hours later, tremendous rainfall had delayed the bus from crawling down to the place which was already flooded as it’s worsened by being a low-lying area. As we reached the site, a public high school, we had to stay inside with the hope that the rain would stop and the activity could push through but Ondoy was so enraged that they decided to just have photo ops with school and village officials and we all braved the rain to get back into the waiting bus afterwards.

We were then taking a daring return to the plant as we heard over through a transistor radio of a colleague, DZME’s Jovy Lucero, that Ondoy had already inundated most places in the metropolis including the long stretch of Mac-Arthur Highway in Valenzuela where our bus was stalled like most vehicles did in the area which had already turned into like a monster sea.

Left with no recourse, we along with Polo Plant Manager Roger dela Cruz instead of staying in the bus helplessly and pointlessly moved down but only to find ourselves looking incessantly for other ways as we all eager to reach the plant. However, it didn’t happen as the road was already impassable plus a message he (Dela Cruz) got from one of his staff left at the brewery that the wall that protects the plant from Tullahan River had collapsed, allowing the ravaging flood water to penetrate and destroy everything inside the premises including my car which stayed afloat until late morning next day.

Still unmindful of what happened with my car at the time, we braved the flood water as we walked for hours, passing through flooded places as far as Sta. Quiteria, Quezon City until we reached Camachile area in Balintawak past 6 p.m.! From there, we heaved a sigh of relief as we took a jeepney that took us to our office in Samson Road.

I thought it’s all over, maybe to my colleagues but not me who had to calm myself down  after getting news from James Lopez, polo brewery’s communications officers, that my car was floating inside the plant. It’s now exactly one year and two days, many have recovered including the brewery, of course, but my car is still languishing at Toyota Balintawak.

Armed with a promise from brewery executives to shoulder the expenses, I am still confident that they would keep their words. In the first place, I and my fellow journalists wouldn’t have been there and wouldn’t have experienced Ondoy’s fury like some of our colleagues who stayed inside the office did that whole day if we were not invited to cover their activity.

But wait, those are only my personal experience and it’s just a car, just a minute thing too small to compare with the size of the earth, so to speak. As I greatly sympathize with most of us who suffered a lot due to Ondoy’s wrath, mine is nothing as compared with the misery of families of over 460 people that died, over 500 injured and more than 30 unaccounted  for and close to 16, 000 families or more than 70,000 people who were driven from their homes.

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