Saturday, September 26, 2009

State of Calamity

God save our people.

Typhoon Ondoy (international code name Ketsana) turned savage as it passed by Central Luzon. It was unexpected in many ways. The heavy rains since last night resulted into an epic flood in Metro Manila. Many are now reported dead and missing; thousands of others are stranded on rooftops with no food and water. The night is getting deeper as the floods continue to submerge homes and destroy properties.

Twenty five provinces were declared to be in a state of calamity by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

"This kind of flash floods in Metro Manila took us all by surprise," said Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., national chairman of the NDCC, adding that flooding was also reported in Bulacan and Pampanga provinces north of Manila.

Source: Storm 'Ondoy' makes landfall, causes widespread flooding - Joseph Holandes Ubalde, GMANews.TV

I was about to leave for Ateneo de Manila University under a blanket of rain thinking it was an ordinary heavy downpour. By the time I reached the clubhouse in our condo village, my jeans were soaking wet and sticking to my skin. My shirt and bag were barely dry making me realize that my umbrella was almost useless. I needed a raincoat because the wind was throwing the water everywhere. I walked to a security personnel and asked him to call for a taxi but the guard told me phone lines are busy and he can't get through to the office. Moreover, most taxi drivers stopped taking passengers and making rounds because of the horrendous traffic.

Shivering from the cold, I headed back for our unit and changed clothes and footwear. I also repacked my stuff into a more water resistant bag. However, by the time I stepped out, people were all over the place trying (and failing) to stay dry while watching several men push cars up drier land. When I went around the corner to take a look for myself, I understood everything. I a matter of hours, the heavy raining became a ferocious storm causing massive flooding.

I hurried back inside to watch the news to see how bad the situation is. When I saw the words 'state of calamity', I started calling people. I called my parents first and informed them of what was going on where I was. Then my brother called me. He was stuck at his workplace and couldn't come home right away. He said he was going to wait the rain out. Kuya Marc also called me. He said that I shouldn't force myself to go to Ateneo because the roads are clogged and it's really dangerous to go outside now. L.J. and I were also texting each other. To make matters worse, the electricity went out.

Sitting alone in the darkness, I pause for a while and tried to let everything sink in. I went to my room and fell asleep albeit uneasily. My brother came at 3:00 pm. I opened the door for him and went back to sleep; I didn't wake up until about 6:00 pm. The electricity was back on and when I peeked outside the window, the waters already receded. (I found out the following day that a huge part of the walls to the sewers gave way, which helped in the release of the contained water.) Praise God!

I continued to watch the news. The rest of the metropolitan area was still enduring the onslaught of the typhoon and flooding. I know I couldn't do much physically to help but I can always pray... pray for lives to be saved.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Undercover Angel

I am convinced that there is still lots of good in the world. :)

On my way to work yesterday morning, I was greeted by a very long line of vehicles on the highway in front of the entrance to our condominium village. It was quite a surprise because traffic doesn't get that heavy at Lawton Avenue that time of the morning. I have no idea what was causing the temporary parking lot on the streets. I left our unit later than usual, around 7:10 a.m., which is the latest I had to be out if I wanted to be at work at least 15 minutes before 8:00 unharrassed by the tedious commute. Nevertheless, it wasn't the time that's the problem. Something was up. I hoisted my bag up my shoulder and looked at my watch.

There was simply no way I was going to risk riding a jeep to Gate 3 and do my usual Chino Roces ave. - Pasay Road route. I crossed the pedestrian lane to the other side of the street. I made up my mind to ride a cab going through Global City, McKinley Parkway, across EDSA to Park Square 1 and then Pasay Road to the center. The only problem was, there weren't too many taxis passing by. They were all probably stranded in the heavy traffic at the intersections.

A cab went by but a Malaysian man who had been waiting longer than I have hailed it first. The next one said he can't go to Makati because of the coding (the last digit on the plate number of his car was prohibited to be used in Makati). A third taxi came but it stopped in front of the lady standing a few steps from me. I watched as she opened the back door and then she looked at me before she got in and asked, "Saan ka papunta?" ("Where are you headed?") "Pasay Road," I replied.

She smiled and told me she was headed for Salcedo Village in Makati and offered me to ride with her in the taxi. I asked her if she was sure it wasn't out of her way. She just smiled and said, "Malapit lang naman yun." ("The place is near anyway"). What a blessing!

As the car pulled away from the curb, the lady and I chatted. I found out that she lived in the same village I do albeit in a different building, Iligan. She's a pre-school teacher at Toddlers Unlimited and she was familiar with the therapy center where I work. Minutes passed by and soon we were in Pasay Road.

I asked her how much I needed to pay and she said, "Okay lang, 'wag na." (It's okay, you don't have to pay.") The taxi stopped by the 7-11 store on the corner of Pasay Road and Edades St. where I got off. I thanked the lady twice before I closed the door after I got out. I watched the cab speed away before I crossed the street heading towards the center.

Wow. A free taxi ride with a kind and friendly lady on a Friday morning. That doesn't happen very often. In fact, it was a rare experience. That was definitely God's work telling me that among us are angels in disguise. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Line of 2

Welcome to the 20s club, sister!

Oh my, how the years went by. Gone are the days of endless arguments on who had the bigger birthday cake or the best birthday party. I can't call you my 'little' sister anymore because you are now half an inch (or more) taller than I am.

Nevertheless, I am glad that I can still share moments with you that can only happen between sisters. I can still call you nicknames that I think will forever stay with me and the family. Thank you for the endless fashion tips, countless petty arguments, unforgettable funny bloopers and the most mundane things we do as sisters. They are all part of who I am.

As we leave our childhood and teenage years behind, I pray that we grow closer as friends even though we spend more time apart than together.

I am blessed to have you as my sister.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Speak

I love a good conversation any time of the day. :)

Created after God's own image and likeness, man is the only creature in this planet that can make beautiful communication through words. Isn't that amazing? So why not put it to good use every day?

This week, I had very many interesting dialogues between friends, colleagues, and people that I have met for the first time. We talked about ideas and things that ranged from the most banal to the most philosophical, from the most real to the most surreal, and from the most practical to the most ideal.

After spending time in conversation with two different groups of people during two different nights recently, a realization occurred to me: 'We usually hate what we don't understand'. Hate might be too strong of a term but I think not understanding something illicits such an intense feeling of dislike in us more often than not. Afterall, man is a rational being. When something just doesn't make sense, it seems but natural for man to be frustrated and angry about it.

Fruitful conversations have opened my understanding of the world and life more besides my own personal experiences and reflections. It has also brought to my awareness the limitation of that understanding. And this is where the challenge comes in.

You see, the problem is that we always seek to know even if we are strongly aware that we are not all-knowing. God alone is omniscient.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

-Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)

When life seems to go awry beyond what our minds can conceive, God does not demand that we understand - that we make sense of it with a snap of the fingers. He only asks us to do what we can, with what we have and what we know... and all He asks for is our unrelenting faith in Him. When what's happening doesn't add up or doesn't make sense to you, perhaps it is an opportunity to pray for strength and courage to continue and the opportunity to let go of The Great WHY? into His hands.

And you know what? Sometimes, when you're talking to someone about something they don't understand - you find your own understanding in their confusion. All that was needed was another person's perspective. Surely, for all of us, God's point-of-view is the best there is. :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I am fascinated with colors. They play an important part in our world and in our lives.

Arts and crafts make careful use of color combinations. Fashion revolves largely on the play of colors. Even black and white television slowly turned technicolor. Just look around you; Mother Nature surely do a great job of making sure mankind is bathe in its brilliant hues.

The color fever eventually got to me. When I was a little kid, a box of eight colors simply wasn't enough:

Crayola crayons have come in a number of different colors over the years. When Binney & Smith first produced Crayola crayons in 1903, there were just eight colors. By 1949 there were 48 colors. In 1958 the number of colors increased to 64. Eight fluorescent colors were introduced in 1972, increasing the total number of colors to 72. In 1990 the total increased to 80 colors with the introduction of 16 new colors and the discontinuation of eight colors. The number of available colors was increased to 96 in 1993 and to 120 in 1998, though with thirteen crayons being retired along the way, the grand total of colors is 133. Along with the regular packs of crayons, there have been many specialty sets, including Silver Swirls, Gem Tones, Pearl Brite, Metallic FX, Magic Scent, Silly Scents, and more...

Besides the fact that they are vibrant eye candy, colors are very closely associated with human expressions, feelings and behavior: Black is used as a sign of mourning, red can mean anger or war or boldness, yellow can indicate happiness and zest, blue exhibits calmness and relaxation, and so on.

Lately, I've been doing much coloring on birthday banners for kids at the center where I work, which led me to do a bit more pondering than usual. I've come to a conclusion that life is very much like having a palette of colors...

* We may have been handed only three colors but it is upto us if we stick to just three or to try and mix them to come up with more.

* The way we understand life is like a child coloring a fantastic drawing - we start coloring using only one crayon and go beyond the lines. However, when we grow up, we soon learn that we must use more than one kind of crayon and color within the boundaries to make the picture more beautiful.

* There is balance among colors. Green comes between warm and cold hues. (See P.S. of my Green Generation post)

* Color is for everybody although some may prefer crayons over watercolor, paint, colored pens/pencils, or oil pastels. People use different ways to express themselves.

* Black, like sin, absorbs other colors - the lovely things in life.

* Color derives from a spectrum of light interacting in the eye. To make an analogy, what becomes of life is like the interaction between God and man.

* People color with different intensities, just like the way they approach life.

"The color of the object illuminated partakes of the color of that which illuminates it."
- Leonardo da Vinci


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