“Northern Luzon is Philippines too”

When Typhoon Ondoy hit Metro Manila, it was all over the news. People rushed to help those who were affected and the response was truly amazing. Granted it wasn’t perfect, but it certainly showed that the spirit of bayanihan was alive in the Filipinos. Even Filipinos abroad did their part, hosting fundraising events to help Ondoy victims.

The sun is shining as I sit here typing these words. On my way to work I passed by places that were greatly affected by the storm and they’re recovering nicely.

I shared the car with people who had just come from the areas that are currently being hit hard by Typhoon Pepeng. The typhoon that had Manila residents scared because it was supposed to arrive days after Ondoy left and and they haven’t been able to recover from it, but thankfully, it avoided the metro. However, that didn’t mean that Pepeng was creating problems for people elsewhere.

The whole week, my friend Yvie in Baguio has been keeping me updated about the weather in Baguio. Rain hasn’t stopped, and signal number 2 has been given all over the Baguio-Benguet area. I had been talking to my sister too on a daily basis, asking her how she is and how the storm was. Saturday palang daw, people in Baguio were in panic buying mode. That was Saturday, October 3.

Last night, Yvie said that power was out and plans to keep it out until the storm passes was underway. Some barangays are flooeded, and roads to Baguio are closed due to possible landslides. Imagine that, if Baguio residents need to leave, they can’t.

Even the lowlands are experiencing some problems. Many Botolan residents have been living in evacuation centers since August, when Typhoon Kiko hit the province. They have no place to go back to as the river claimed their homes.

My mom said that it was raining hard during their entire trip from Zamables yesterday. Earlier my mom received a message from her brother that Aringay, La Union is also flooded. We have relatives there, and we are trying to get in touch with them to know how they are. My friend Den said that it’s flooded in their family home in Tarlac.

I am not the only one who is frustrated with the lack of news and updates about Typhoon Pepeng, as well as the lack of help that’s being given to these locations. I am not saying that the victims of Ondoy aren’t important and getting them back on their feet isn’t a priority. But they are recovering, thanks to the generosity of Filipinos. It’s now time to help those who are still suffering.

Here are others who are as frustrated as I am:

N.Luzon is getting less attention bec. it’s not as ‘sexy’ as the images of flooded Manila streets. Prove me wrong. (via mcg at Twitter)

Northern Luzon deserves the same, nay, better help and response that Metro Manila got for Ondoy. (Francis Ballesteros, Twitter)

n.luzon is phils too!! why aren’t we getting the same help ondoy victims did?? come on pipol!!! we are holding on to dear life in here!! (Jacquie Doria, Twitter)

Jacquie’s family is in Mangaldan, and she hasn’t heard from them yet.

As of this writing, I’m slowly seeing movement towards helping our kababayans up in Nothern Luzon. Please pass any information you could. We need your help. Thanks.

Typhoon Ondoy updates

I got these links from Manuel Quezon III’s Twitter. It may help you greatly in this time.

List of Places to Donate
Map Update Form (places that still need rescuing, etc)
Ondoy Victim Directory

Today, a few of my officemates and I went to help the relief drive in the neighborhood. There were a lot of people there: students, residents, employees — that we really didn’t get to do much. About an hour or so, we left, saying that we’ll go back later.

This afternoon, we went to talk to some of the families who took refuge here. They told their experiences and some really made me cry. They were all devastated that they lost so much, but they weren’t angry, and many of them had the same sentiment: “We’re glad to be alive and are with our families. Our things are the least of our worries.”

Thank God for that.

Typhoon Ondoy weekend

I’m finally online. My ISP went down on Saturday afternoon, and I couldn’t get a signal on my mobile, so I spent most of the day reading or playing Ravenhearst. Around early evening my brother Dion told me to look outside.

Brown, muddy water had completely covered the street where our building was and water had reached the first step of our building. Some of the residents were outside, looking at it and talking with the security as to what could be done next. Others, who had cars, waded into the water to pull them to higher ground.

Later in the evening, the water had risen to the second step and was slowly creeping up the elevated parking areas. Around 9 pm, the water was about an inch or two the first step, which was level with the building lobby.

My brothers had gone down to buy some food from the store on the first floor. We had a small sack of rice that our parents brought (which they regularly do) so we were good. We managed to get some canned goods and water, and decided to stock up a bit just in case.

We could only look at the water outside and monitor its rising. Thankfully, the water stopped and began to decline around 10 or 11. One of the neighbors, desperate to get provisions, took a rubber raft (the one for kids) out to the grocery at the crossing. It was a spot of humor in a rather scary situation.

With my meager signal I managed to keep in touch with my dad, who went to Bambang earlier before leaving for Zambales. He was stuck in Bambang, but thankfully, dry and not in a flooded area. He stayed there til Sunday morning, and reached Zambales around 8 in the evening. My sister was also texting us, asking for updates.

Victims
I had also received some messages from friends and family about their situation. My mom told me that her siblings in Marikina had to evacuate their house and move to a neighbors as the water had submerged their home. My classmate had to flee with the family he was staying with as well. Last I heard they were at the evacuation center, so that’s good.

My brother was worried about his friends who lived near the creek and the river in our area. So far the news about them seemed to be ok.

Aftermath
Sunday noon Miks and I decided to check up on the situation at the Santolan/Manggahan crossing. Since there were no tricycles available we decided to walk as it wasn’t far. I figured that many of the drivers and their families were also affected and driving was the least of their worries that day.

Upon reaching the crossing, we saw this really long line at the Ever supermarket and Pan de Manila. Residents were stocking up on food and water as possibly 90% of the barangay was heavily affected. Since Miks and I weren’t really out to buy anything, we didn’t go to the supermarket. We just walked around trying to look for a place where we could have our cellphones reloaded with credits.

McDonald’s and Chowking were closed, so was Mercury Drug and the Mini Stop stores in the area. 711 was open but their shelves were literally empty of food. Julie’s Bakeshop was also not selling any bread but pandesal, and they were still baking it. We tried buying load but the stores that normally carried them said that all they had was Talk-n-Text and TM, services we don’t have.

One of the buildings at the corner had a basement parking and that was fully submerged. I saw a car floating in it and the water was already level with the street. Some men were trying to pump water out of it but with the size of their machine, it looks like it’ll take days.

On our way back, Miks ran into some of his friends, who updated us on the conditions of their other friends. Many of them, as expected, lost their homes and belongings. They told us that SM Marikina’s basement parking was really messed up, what with the Marikina river overflowing. One of the security guards lived in the area that was completely covered in water. He was here earlier and the residents gave what they can. I was glad that we could give something but I didn’t feel that it was enough.

Nunik was able to buy some groceries. The grocery store at Anonas wasn’t full, he said. It seems that since the area wasn’t really that affected, people weren’t in a hurry to buy supplies but for areas like ours, there’s a rush for them.

We were able to get updates from family who had Internet and cellphone service. Nunik was able to go to his shop and check on the status of various relatives. Some of them had their houses flooded, while others were stranded in various parts of the metro. My aunt and uncle were rescued earlier on and was recovering at another aunt’s house.

They weren’t able to save much of their belongings, which is really sad but I’m just so thankful that they are ok. A lot of their things can’t be replaced, like the old family pictures and mementos, but that is the least of our worries.

I also heard that one of my uncles (a cousin of my mom) succumbed to his illness last night. He was undergoing dialysis for his sickness and was going on a decline for the past few months. My prayers for him, his wife and kids, his father and his siblings.

Office
Today, I decided to try and go to work today. I was worried because I had to pass Marcos Highway but although it was muddy, it was passable. Along the way, I saw some people cleaning out what’s left of their homes. From the train, I saw the damages as well. Marikina river had risen and many of the young trees on the banks were down. The roads level with it were also full of mud and debris.

UERM and SM Sta. Mesa was also a mess. The underground parking of the mall was full of water.

Some of my co-workers didn’t go to work to deal with their homes. Even our boss wasn’t spared. I really feel so thankful that we were spared from any harm or less. Best thing we can do is help out. I’m seeing a lot of links on Facebook, Plurk and Twitter about how to help. Will pass them along.