Monday, September 28, 2009


Now metro Manila struggles to get back to "normal," to rescue the residents still stuck in their houses or on their rooftops, residents who have run out of food and water. And to find those who are still lost, missing, perhaps stashed in an evacuation center somewhere, perhaps dead.

Lots of residents are pitching in to help those in need, putting together bags of necessities--food, clean water, blankets, clothing. There are still those who are swamped with water. Another storm is expected later in the week, a chilling thought for those who are still digging themselves out of the mud that's covered them.

Meanwhile, schools are closed "until Tuesday," which Cynch assures me means, here, through Tuesday. I can't figure it out for sure. The TV broadcasts messages from the director of the NDCC (National Disaster Coordination Committee) that begin in English and change, quickly, to Filipino. I can only read facial expressions, watch the pictures as they flash across the screen--houses halfway submerged, tumbled cars, a line of open coffins, waiting for victims.

The camera films crying fathers, husbands. Tears well in me. Just their facial expressions twist me into sympathetic knots. I feel hot, flushed, embarrassed at my helplessness. I am dry, safe, healthy, and I can't really understand what's being asked of us, how I can help. I can't even figure out if Lizzie has school tomorrow, or if I'll be asked to teach my classes as usual. Cynch says no--I should trust her.

Then there's the matter of our trip to Bohol. What should I do? Go through the week blithely waiting for Friday, to see if it will go as planned? Should I haunt the Philippines Airlines website, check to see whether planes are departing the airport as regularly scheduled? Trust the weather to hold off enough for us to go? Or should I call the travel agency and see if I can push the trip back, cancel it, use the money I would have spent, what's left of it after all the cancellation fees, as a donation to local shelters for disaster relief?

It feels shallow of me to be thinking of such mercenary matters--a voice in my head tells me to just let it go until Friday. If the plane is cancelled, then deal with the next step. If the trip is cancelled and I don't get any of the money back, chalk it up to the cost of the disaster. After all, there are people here who have lost everything--computers, cars, houses, loved ones. Another voice tells me to call the travel agency tomorrow and ask them what they think I should do, if anything.

If I could understand what the director of the NDCC is saying when he comes on the TV, perhaps I'd have a better idea of what to do. As it is, I feel like a confused kid, who only understands a fraction of the grown ups as they scurry here and there, obviously agitated, obviously on the edge of reason.


I'm downstairs now, and the internet's working. Also, while I was down here earlier, trying to get a fix on the school situation, some official verification, I ran into our neighbors from California via Australia, Nathan and Vanessa and their two boys (Liam and Jonas). They're flying out tomorrow to tour the Visayas, and don't seem concerned with the weather and potential travels alarms. So I won't be.

In the meantime, I've gone on the UP Diliman website and discovered that if I want to contribute relief money, I can take it to a pick up place in the College of Arts and Letters. Think I'll do that tomorrow.

Now that I have a small handle on life, I feel a whole lot better.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Laurie, I had no idea! This news has not gotten much traction over here. Glad you are okay and hope Manilla recovers quickly!