Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Resilient Pinoy

The Resilient Pinoy

December 18, 2011
The trip to Dumaguete for some much needed R&R was something I have looked forward to for many months. Finally, two days ago, I was on my way, with Mia and her nanny, and a huge suitcase in tow.  A storm was also headed for Dumaguete. And what a storm it was indeed.

Yesterday, December 17, started out rainy, but the rain seemed to go on forever, and it was a very heavy downpour.  Around 9 am, we decided to brave the weather for a much needed trip to the market for food supplies.  Along the way, we saw panic in our neighbourhood. Little kids sobbing on the side of the road, drenched to the bone.  The river that runs around our neighbourhood (Banica river) has flooded again.
 On the way to the market, we saw a lot of people on the road, shouting, crying, panicking. A young couple with their kid asked if they can ride with us. She was in her houseclothes, and it was obvious they had to leave in a hurry. The water rose quickly and they were not able to save everything.    Everywhere in the market, everybody was talking about “bakwit”—the colloquial term for evacuate.

The remains of one of our neighbor's house
Halfway through our market round, my nanny texted—the water has reached the house.  No matter how bad it got in the river area before, the water never reached our house. But this time it did.  

So we hurried home.  The water didn’t reach ankle height, but it was really muddy. Mama’s bedroom was covered in a silty soup. Our room, which was elevated by at least 20 cm from the rest of the house, was spared.  One hour later, with us bailing the water out with whatever means possible, the water was finally out and we sustained major water damage on the floor of Mama’s bedroom, but the rest of the house was intact. There were big cracks on the walls though, and the silt covered floor will take at least a full day to clean.  

There was no water and no electricity also. The house will have to stay dirty until the water in the taps return—or it rains a bit more so that we can store more water in the rain pails.  Then I went out to survey the damage around our neighbourhood, with my camera in tow.

Onlookers and scavengers alike at Rizal boulevard after the storm
At least 6 houses totally gone or destroyed beyond repair, with only the walls left.  Dead chickens and dead piglets everywhere. All the geese and ducks survived. Some families lost everything, as they had time only to save themselves and the clothes on their back.  Later, in the boulevard, the full extent of the damage was clear.  A ship tipped over.  Memories and the things that symbolize a life together washed away in the flood. Driftwood—the remains of washed out houses—littered the entire stretch of the boulevard.  And it seems there was a fiesta in the boulevard, with salvagers and onlookers alike having fun.
Filipinos are indeed a resilient lot.  We can still manage to smile in the face of adversity. Living in this archipelago of storms, typhoons, earthquakes and natural calamities has somehow selected for character traits that will ensure joy and a positive in the in the midst of constant upheavals.  As a biologist, I believe in natural selection, and I believe that this applies to the spirit and character of a people as well.

We are experiencing climate change and its worst effects, no doubt about that.  Our government needs to have a better disaster risk reduction and management program to mitigate adverse effects of the changing climate, no doubt about that.  But we, as a people, will continue to be resilient and adaptable despite all of the calamities that are happening to us, no doubt about that. That is the mark of a true survivor.

Below are some more images i took at the aftermath of the storm

Mama's bedroom got flooded...

...but it was nothing compared to the 6 foot deluge that out neighbors had to deal with.

Lost houses at the back of Ginny's store in our neighborhood

What remained of someone's kitchen

If the flash flood happened at night, as in CDO, many more lives could have been lost

Our living room, after the flood

Among the debris in the boulevards, the remains of a suitcase...

Many snakes were washed down, and were probably killed by people who feared these harmless species.

Memories of a life together, washed away, and hopefully found again...

This guy found a beautiful wedding gown among the debris

Despite all the destruction, we as a people will always find a reason to smile.... mabuhay ang Pinoy! :)


  1. Hi Gang.
    im the 1th to comment ;)

  2. so typical papi :) But as you can see, even though the storm put a damper on my vacation plan, it turned out OK. Was able to play photojournalist for a while, hahaha! :)

  3. This is a wonderful blog for a tragedy turned into a happy post :) Hope everyone's safe after the storm. As you said, Mabuhay ang PINOY!

  4. nice blog...expectin for more stories to share...inspiring! GOD bless!