Mandatory Post-Cataclysm Blog Entry

29 09 2009

I think D and I win the Philippines’ Biggest Morons award for our total unawareness of last Saturday’s horrors. We had acknowledged that it had been raining  scary-hard nonstop, so much so that no daylight was coming in our windows, and decided we would just have to stay indoors, diminishing supply of food and DVDs be damned. But we still had no idea apocalypse was on-going most everywhere else.

Our ignorance stemmed from a few things: our apartment has incredibly shitty signal on any given day, we had not applied for internet yet, we didn’t watch TV once, and we just plain lucked out choosing to live in a place that was calamity-free then. Thus, the people who were trying to contact us couldn’t, we remained oblivious to images of Hell on Earth, and we ended up just bumbling around in acts of lazy assholery. To make us even more naive of Ondoy’s actual wrath, we even managed to have dinner at a nearby resto complex which, save for a couple of closed establishments, catered to the usual rowdy barkadas and familias. We thought it was a particularly wet and only potentially dangerous day.

The reality check commenced first thing Sunday morning, when terribly delayed text messages started trickling in — friends and family asking where we were, if we were okay, if our apartment had gotten trashed, if we had managed to stay safe somewhere somehow. Getting more and more shaken by this eerily belated stream of panic, we turned the tube on and got hit by the very harrowing realization that whole chunks of cities were completely underwater, so many people’s lives had been wrecked, and that our own friends and family could have gone through Very Bad Shit too. Our families, fortunately, are fine, but some of our friends didn’t fare as well, with stories of floating refrigerators, all-night hunger, practically swimming down Commonwealth (and being verbally molested and pickpocketed by tambays in the process [I heard some cops have even raped stranded women they’d brought to motels for ‘shelter’]), but we are immensely relieved to know that they’re safe and dry now, that their ordeals were a fraction of what so many people are still going through now.

Since then, it’s been totally Twilight Zone in Manila. For instance, supermarkets are crammed with folks cramming their carts, as if post-nuclear fallout, cleaning out shelves of basic edibles both for donations and themselves. The woman in front of me yesterday bought two carts-full of Lily’s Peanut Butter, while the guy in the opposite aisle filled his cart to bursting with Lemon Square’s Cheese Cakes (useless aside: Lemon Square doesn’t sell lemon squares, and those are technically cheese cupcakes). Other people were stocking up on candles, instant noodles, towels, and other oh-my-god-we’re-gonna-die goods.

And amidst all this post-traumatic stress, I feel perturbed not only by the actual chaos that occurred, but by the fact that I knew squat about it until afterwards. I’ve been bound to the TV since Sunday, staring in dismay at blurred corpses, wrecked homes, lives that had been dragged all the way back to zero, forced to start anew. Something abominable had slipped right past me, and it was sheer luck that the worst hadn’t befallen me or the people I cared about.

To the people who dropped a line, I really, really appreciate it. And for the Powers That Be that bestowed upon me the title of  Complete Dumbass in the Face of Calamity, I totally deserve it, thanks. Here’s to getting wiser.

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