I took a long rest from social media today, reflected on what I felt about what’s happening, and then summarized them in this blog. My eyes swollen, my head throbbing. My heart is aching for the people who are affected by the consecutive downpours.
Ulysses gave me Ondoy flashbacks: I had to sleep inside a Robinsons mall, scared, cold, alone. Although thankful that I had my whole allowance with me at that time, I just wanted to go home and be with my family.
Fast forward twelve years later, I was on my bed when the strong winds of Ulysses hit my windows. I really thought that they would break, that the satellite (or maybe a huge antenna, I’m not sure) would crash them anytime. I slept at around 4 a.m., close to my wall, hugging my pillow tight. You see, our house is located at quite a high elevation, thanks to my late mom’s foresight. But this was not the same for our nearby villages. Karangalan was flooded. Brookside was flooded. More parts in Cainta were flooded. I could not help but worry for those who reside in Marikina, which was greatly affected by Ondoy in 2008, more so that I knew Ulysses was much stronger.
I was not able to do much the next day as I’ve exhausted more than half of my battery (I slept with my flashlight on because I needed light to sleep). On November 13, I continued working while I kept myself updated. That same day, however, a reader who was close to me, Ally, asked me to retweet posts about her town, Tuguegarao.
I retweeted it and, again, made ways to donate. It infuriated me. Since January, we have been giving, and it seemed to me that the government has been making this as a scapegoat. And then the questions followed: Why was it allowed for the dam to open seven of its gates before the information was disseminated properly so people could evacuate immediately? Where were the authorities? Why was this less covered by the media? It was already four in the afternoon. Time was moving, the city was slowly being submerged underwater, people were slowly drowning, but no one was taking action.
I was awake the whole night, keeping myself updated. At one point, I cried, thinking about these people, especially those stranded in Linao. They could have been hungry, exhausted, worried. Worse, they are begging for help in the dark. No one wants to feel scared, cold, alone. They might have probably thought it was their last.
I felt useless. I wish I could give more. I wish I had a bigger platform to create a donation drive of my own, but realizing that I was also mentally unstable (and was super anxious) made me step back. I wish I were a billionaire, ready to share my helicopters and save more people. I literally locked myself inside my room and prayed and cried, once again, for those who are affected. I avoided Twitter until gained back my composure, and when I did, I continued disseminating useful information about credible organizations where people can donate (for those with severe trust issues, you can go for this option) and donate as well, reminding myself that there’s no such thing as little help. Every effort goes a long way.
Still mad at this government and how badly this was handled. How dare they? How could they have time to enjoy themselves when people continue to beg for rescue? In the middle of an ongoing storm? Why do we have public officials who lack empathy? Why can’t they be accountable for their actions? How could people defend incompetency? How could people have the audacity to say, “Can’t you just wait?” These people are scared and hungry and worried, and you blame them for wanting to be rescued immediately?
Disappointed with opportunists. With people who use donation drives to scam. With those who arouse public interest through fearmongering. With those who are hungry for attention and use this as a premise to give. Kindness should not be conditional, should it?
This anger is mixed with fear and worry for my fellow countrymen. Today I kept on thinking if these people have eaten, if these people have already been rescued, if these people could still hold on. I could not imagine how traumatic this is for them. If I, who is in the comfort of my own home, could not eat and think properly, what more them?