Saturday, September 26, 2009

Not a Drill

Last night I went to bed with a blocked ear, smashed into Dreamland by a combination of waning 24 hour allergy medication and a sinus draining formula (Phenlpropanolamine HCl and Paracetamol), and my only concern was that I might've made my blocked ear worse with a fizzy Hydrogen Peroxide soak that wouldn't properly drain.

I woke up every once in a while, feeling the sinus headache flex its muscles in my head, to the frenzied sound of rain and wind. It seemed that rain pounded us all night long.

Now the typhoon, Ondoy--because that's what this is--is confirmed. Rain has been lashing us, whipping us, drowning us, since light first dawned,and now it's the middle of the afternoon and there doesn't seem to be any let up. We had plans to go out for a leisurely brunch and then grocery shopping with Cynch, but we wisely decided to forgo that plan once it seemed there would be no stopping this deluge. The roads here flood quickly, and traffic, already a nightmare, becomes a snarled, floating hell.

Beng texted me in the middle of the morning: Laurie ths is really bad weather. Try nt 2 go out coz d roads r like d sea!

Yes, I texted back, this d worst so far 4 us. We hav postponed d date with Cynch. Watching d boob tube n playng solitare.

About an hour ago, I made myself get up from the couch to make a big pot of rice. So what if there are little weevil things and tiny tiny ants in the bag? Just wash them out, I told myself. You've got time.

While I was messing with the rinsing process, the land-line rang in the apartment. This hardly ever happens--usually only when the bus is here for Lizzie and she hasn't gone down to wait for it yet.

It was Cynch, and I could barely hear her over the blaring TV and the roaring rain and wind. The lights flickered. I turned off the tube and shoved my hand against my (bad) ear, straining to hear her voice as it burbled, far far away, and as if underwater, into my other (good) ear. She asked me how we were doing, said something about bad weather, Boyng, the hospital, miserable... "I can't hear you," I said. "This phone is really bad and the rain's so loud. Can I call you on my cell?"

"I can't call you on your cell for some reason," she said.

I got the impression that Boyng, her husband, had gone to the hospital for something routine, a check up? And along the way he'd gotten stranded by floods. So it was a good thing that we'd canceled our trip for lunch.

I also got the impression that we should prepare for a brown out. I'd already put the big bin/bucket in the bathroom under the slow tap to fill it. I was making the rice.

I still couldn't hear Cynch. It was like talking into the storm. "Do you think we won't be able to go out tomorrow?" I asked.

"... play it by ear..." I heard.

Okay. I tried to pretend that I could hear more than nothing, than the rise and fall of her voice, her laugh, a rushing like the sudden stream ripping through the yard next door.

Now I'm typing this, as long as we have electricity, and thinking that it may be a while before I'll be able to upload it. Certainly, the internet is down--I was using the stick this morning, before the winds picked up so hard, and in the middle of my Facebook surfing it slowed the reception of information down to nothing.

As long as the trees stay planted in the yard and don't come crashing through the windows, I figure we should be fine. I'm quite glad that we're on the 4th floor at this point. Water's rushing down the walk. I haven't ventured downstairs--sure that I'd get pummeled by water, flying sideways through the stairwell--to see if the guard's camped out on top of his desk, water surging through the lobby. Maybe that'll be an adventure for later.

Maybe I'll build us an ark...


6:30 PM -- Still raining, wind still blowing. I've got the TV on and it looks as if the Marikina river has overflowed its banks and villages are underwater, houses have been swept away, the TV shows clots of people clinging to driftwood and debris floating downstream while peole on the bridge try to throw them ropes as they pass underneath. In Quezon City, where we are, streets are flooded with fast running water.

I finally left the apartment to go downstairs and find out what might be going on. One of the housekeepers is there, watching TV, probably trapped here, as is the day guard, in her civilian clothing, and the night guard, dressed up for duty. All of the furniture has been moved or removed. Only the housekeeper sits there, in the midst of all the stacked up cushions, watching cable TV.

A banner on the news show says that San Mateo, Rizal (a neighborhood to the east of us) floods are now chest high, and a caller recounts how the waters swept through his house, taking all the cars, the computers, so fast that they could barely do anything before fleeing--and now they're looking for shelter, cold, wet, disoriented.

One of the news websites (the internet is working now) has these breaking headlines:


  1. Holy moley. I'm glad you're on the fourth floor too. Stay safe.

  2. I was glad to see on the fb that you made it through high and dry. You've had a front-row seat to some history there, with Aquino, this rain, who knows what else? Home stretch now, friend. Hope you and Lizzie are well, weevils and all.