|Wednesday, 15 August 2012|
Freida Tabuena with her sisters Techie and Trixie
ESSCNews shares this write-up from Freida Tabuena who manages ESSC's human resource and administration unit. Freida and her family were able to get out of their house in Provident Villages during the monsoon rains last week and stayed in a relative's place temporarily. In 2009, their house was also flooded and damaged extensively when typhoon Ondoy struck Metro Manila and major parts of Luzon.
Unless you are living under a rock, you probably heard about Provident Villages that has become the poster child for flooding and disaster in Metro Manila. These days you can't turn on the TV without hearing about the "lubog na subdivision (submerged subdivision)." This is also where my family lives and where I and my sisters grew up in.
Four generations of our family have lived in Provident so flooding is not new to us. Once every 10 years, the village would flood. We would pack up our stuff, hole up in an uncle's house in Quezon City (the next city to Marikina City where Provident Villages is located), wait for the flood waters to go down, and come back days later with boots, gloves, mops, buckets, and liters of Lysol®. Cleaning was a chore but our eyes would light up if we found a photograph that miraculously survived or a favorite doll that just needed a little cleaning.
In 1998, I remember the flood vividly because as we were packing up and getting in our car to leave, there was never a feeling of panic, just a sense of urgency and maybe a little excitement. And then typhoon Ondoy came.
Ondoy happened in 2009. Ondoy was not the friendly flood that gave you enough time to pack and get out. Ondoy was sinister. Ondoy brought big waters that completely swallowed our house.
Ondoy nearly devastated us, but still we managed to get back on our feet and rebuild our home and our lives. We never said anything back then, but we had this nagging fear. What if it happened again? Without factoring in climate change and its impact, we brushed off the thought aside, thinking that Ondoy was a once-in-a-lifetime event.
And like a cruel joke, it happened again last week. Just three, short years after Ondoy. The Flood With No Name. For more than two days, houses in Provident Villages marinated in a soup of muddy water. Lord knows what I and my family will find when we return in a few days. So now the nagging fear is back. Will it happen again? I believe now that it will.
I love Provident and my heart breaks every time I see photos of its flooded streets in the news. But the floods have come too often in such a short time that practicality has overtaken my stubbornness to hang on to that place I call home. Sentimentality has taken the back seat as I now think of my family's safety and peace of mind.
I am actually sad as I write this note because Provident has been good to us. Leaving Provident would mean uprooting our family. It means leaving memories of childhood, of those countless Christmases and Easter egg hunts we had in our parents' expansive garden.
So why do we stay? We stay because in our hearts we always hope that things would be better. We stay because we are thankful that despite the devastation, we will always have a place to come home to.
But times are no longer provident to us and decisions have to be made. And these decisions involve facing reality and the risks we will continue to have if we stay.