Filipino values emerge in deluge

Filipinos put their families first amid flooding that reminded them of tropical storm Ondoy, while a few take advantage of the situation

FAMILY FIRST. Residents affected by Ondoy-like flooding, such as those from San Mateo, Rizal (in photo), put their families above anything else. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II

RIZAL, Philippines – Flood was submerging his riverside community Tuesday, August 7, when his Australian boss gave him strict instructions to go to work. “Business is business,” his superior reportedly said, even as school and work remained suspended in most of Metro Manila.

The man, who works in an outsourcing company, chose to stay with his wife and 1-year-old child in flood-prone San Mateo, Rizal, one of 32 Philippine provinces battered by nonstop rain.

Importante ang trabaho pero mas importante ang buhay ng tao,” his aunt, Lea Aveño, told Rappler in an interview outside her flooded village. “Marami pang mapapasukan diyan.” (Work is important but life is more important… There are a lot of other jobs out there.)

HAND IN HAND. Even children help in salvaging their families' belongings. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II

Aveño, among 20,000 others displaced in floods in Metro Manila, considered the deluge a repeat of the unprecedented tropical storm Ondoy in 2009. In a rare weather occurrence, the southwest monsoon brings rain that is now approaching Ondoy levels.

Aveño said Ondoy also submerged their community, Felicidad Subdivision, in 2009. Residents said water rose more quickly during Ondoy, and it was unprecedented so they were unprepared.

BETTER PREPARED. Families in San Mateo, Rizal move their belongings to their subdivision's entrance as early as 2 a.m. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II

This time around, residents went on standby as early as 10 p.m. Monday, August 6. Many families left their houses at 2 a.m. Tuesday, August 7, and remain without a full meal as they stay by the subdivision’s entrance as of posting time.

The San Mateo River has overflowed and forced residents in nearby communities to evacuate.

‘That’s life’

Some of the affected families lined the Batasan-San Mateo Road that overlooks the river. One of the residents evacuated to this area with her 6 grandchildren. She said her family was prepared, and had many of their belongings salvaged.

ONDOY MEMORIES. The San Mateo River, which overflowed during Ondoy in 2009, is again sweeping away houses and other belongings. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II

Pero wala na po itong pagkakaiba sa Ondoy. Iisa na lang po ito na pagsubok sa amin. Hindi po namin alam kung bakit; baka talagang ganyan ang buhay, paikot ang pagsubok. Wala na naman kaming bahay,” the resident told Rappler.

(But this is no different from Ondoy. The trials are one and the same. We don’t know why; maybe that’s life, and trials go in cycles. We lost our house again.)

UNCERTAIN DAYS. Families line the Batasan-San Mateo Road, uncertain of the days after the Ondoy-like flood that struck their communities. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II

Other Filipinos have taken advantage of the situation, however, and have attempted to loot affected families. Residents have mauled one of the looters, and brought him to the police.

A number of residents from nearby communities, who are relatively unaffected, have also arrived in the area. “Makikiusyoso lang (We’re just curious),” one of them said. – Rappler.com


For more weather updates, visit the #WeatherAlert Microsite.

Everyone is encouraged to help out. Check this list of evacuation centers and relief operations in Metro Manila for places near you. 

 

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