Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Metro Manila is Deluged by Typhoon Ondoy

On Tuesday, September 29, I drove to Pasig, Metro Manila, on my way to Marikina, to document the result of the floods brought on by typhoon Ondoy. My family had arrived in Manila on Friday, September 25, for a three-week long vacation, and the storm arrived on the same evening. It rained constantly for two days, and the inundation (several millimeters of rain) resulted in the floods. Today, Manila newspapers reported that more than 200 deaths as a result of the floods.

My original plan was to proceed to Marikina, one of the hardest hit communities in Metro Manila, but my limited transportation asset, a van provided by a cousin, Ponch Villaroman, a medical surgeon, and his wife, Mel, a medical doctor and health officer of one Pasig City's several barangays, did not allow me to go any farther.

Our first stop was the centuries-old Pasig Catholic Church, where we parked our van. We then proceeded to the city hall, which is also under water. Some of the city's assets, including police squad cars, ambulances, and firetrucks were also hard hit. The city lost several millions pesos worth in damage.

On Tuesday, the residents of Pasig went about their activities, despite the flood waters. Some very enterprising residents had a brisk business ferrying other Pasiguenos to different places in the city, charging as much as 100 pesos each passenger. The makeshift "boats" were jury-rigged gallon jugs, large pieces of styrofoam, old furniture, and old bancas.

At the city hall, I joined a small group of volunteers that was transporting several boxes of medicine in a large government-owned dump truck, and we drove along the flooded streets to Barangay Rosario, a distance of about one kilometer. But because of the floodwaters, which was thigh-high in some places, the drive to the Eusebio High School in Bry. Rosario took almost one hour.

Here, more than a hundred volunteers were repackaging thousands of bags of relief goods consisting of medicine, canned goods, bottled water, and cooked rice. They decided to cook the rice because the typhoon victims have lost their ability to cook after their homes had been under water for several days.

The relief goods, whose distribution was being coordinated with a few non-government organizations (NGOs), were donated by the city of Pasig, which is the second largest city in Metro Manila in terms of revenues, second only to Makati City.

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