Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Day They Become Ordinary

Tuesday morning and I woke up late. My shift was supposed to start at six in the morning and it was already six thirty when I got out of the bed.

The rains never ceased pounding the rooftop as ribbons of ice water cascaded down from the ceiling. The carpet was soaked and so was my closet. Without thinking about the looming disaster in my room, I went down the stairs to call the office. My teammate was already there, an old lady who braved the floods just to get to work.

"Sir, hindi na passable sa Kalentong." She said. "Baha na rin po ang Pureza." I went out to check the intersection. My colleague not only spoke the truth, the boulevard was no longer passable to small vehicles. 

I had no choice but to work home. Sent word to the boss that I'd go online from my house.

But then, I was beset by guilt. Had I terminated my shut-eye at 5am, I can still reach the office without getting stuck in the floods. How can I let my subordinates leave their homes while I stayed in my room, when I'm supposed to lead? Picking my towel, I walked inside the bathroom to get ready for work. It will be a long day, and might as well be where the action is.

Kissing my mother goodbye, I left the house to go to the office.

Calm In The Home Front

The ground where the rows of apartments sits is prone to flooding. Fortunately for our unit, the brackinsh waters have not reached the driveway yet, unlike last year.

Pureza Watersports Complex

However, scenes were different a few blocks away. Say hello to the Pureza Watersports Complex.

It is highly improbable to find a jeepney driver mad enough to pass through that knee-deep floods. And should I choose to go with his insanity trip, I would have to turn around and pass through a narrow alley. I would then have to climb the overpass to get to the opposite side of the boulevard. 

But I decided to wade through the flood waters and walk until I reach the train station. If a tsunami (caused by passing trucks) breaches the rim of my rubber boots, the attempt would be put to rest and I would have to work from home as originally planned. 

Tiptoing my way to the LRT Station, I was able to reach it without so much hassle.

Home Station, Pureza

It was past seven in the morning, and the clouds have not heaved. Zero visibility renders the cityscape unseen. As for me, I had reasons for taking the train. 

Valid ones. 

San Juan River, Quezon City - San Juan Border

For I know that when the jeep rolls past the Lourdes Hospital in Santa Mesa, the San Juan River had already swelled beyond its banks taking back the floodplain and the homes built over it. 

Kalentong and Shaw Boulevard disappears under chest-deep waters.

Aurora Boulevard, San Juan

So I stepped out of the train at J. Ruiz Station and found it dry. Parts of San Juan was spared from the floods because of its hilly terrain. From there, a short and breezy cab ride would take me across the narrow streets of N. Domingo, P. Guevarra and Wilson. The odd-looking building where my office perched is on high ground, so even when a deluge shuts down the metropolis, never had we experienced work stoppage.

It was a good call that I decided to brave the rains and show up at the floor. For the boss and I would face various operation problems throughout the day. There were power outages issues. Agents who can't come to work as their homes and streets were at the mercy of the torrents. Even our salaries were delayed because the bank was closed since Monday. I would tell myself later on, that for all the complacency I show, my real job turned out to be a troubleshooter. I was there to get things done, and maybe, prepare myself for more troubles to come.

What people don't know were the other, less-heroic reasons for coming to the workplace. I needed a reliable bandwidth connection to finish my writing side-project. On top of that, a hazard pay is in the works. Rather than seek a fresh round of loan to pay for all my expenses, seeking ways to earn and replenish my dwindling savings seem to be a better choice.

I left the office at five in hopes of hitting the gym before I return to completing my tasks. But then, I learned that the gym was closed when I arrived there. A short walk back to the office to leave last minute instructions and then my day was over.

It was time to go home.

Bagumbayan Street, Floods Ahead

"Sanay na kami sa baha," a resident who refused to be evacuated was interviewed in the evening news. Another affected resident in a different disaster area disagrees: 

"Ngayon lang po kami binaha ng ganito."

In retrospect, it's been less than five years since Ondoy left a scar in people's memory. A year after the same deluge sunk Manila underwater, leaving scores swimming for their lives. Just by looking at my broken ceiling, with flaps of rain-worn wood planks gaping in mid-air, soon it will come crashing down to the floor, and I have to spend my days knowing another Habagat will breach my home and interrupt the lives we carefully live.

"Masaya po kami pag may baha." A gleeful resident of a nearby creek said in another news interview.

"Talaga lang ha?" I mused, as I curled under the blanket. Soon I will be asleep.

But before I closed my eyes, and take some rest, my thoughts fly to some worrisome truth only few get to muse these days: I wonder, how long before fear sets in when the destructive fits of nature becomes random and ordinary?


Geosef Garcia said...

You are a good boss. In spite of your personal reasons, at least di mo pa din pinabayaan ang mga umaasa sayo. :)

The scary thing is those people are already so used to the floods that they no longer see it as a threat. They see floods as an annual event in their lives, much like Christmas and Fiestas.

Mamon said...

Bait naman ni boss.

kung magiging random and ordinary na ang mga ganyan, ibig sabihin natutunan na nating mag-adapt.