Day 19: So Much Life to Live

At just 19 years old, she had so much life to live when Typhoon Yolanda came bursting into her life. Her 20th birthday was just 2 months away and she was a year away from graduating college. Though the thought of such an immense storm sparked a bit of anxiety, she had no idea the true fear that she was about to face on the eve before the storm. This is the story of Anne, who was residing in Bliss Sagkahan with her grandmother when Typhoon Yolanda made landfall, written in September 2014.

The sky was blue, the air was crisp and the sun was shining gloriously on November 7, 2013 and all the school boys and girls including me were wondering why we weren’t going to have school that day, maybe because we didn’t think Yolanda was as bad as the local officials said.

That afternoon, I took a nap at like 2 p.m. and I woke up from the noise of heavy pouring rain and thunder. I got out of my room to find food in the fridge and I notice that my grandmother’s friend and her family were inside our house, they look worried and scared. Hours had past and there was  still heavy rain and thunder plus strong wind, I decided not to sleep because I was too worried.

I was thinking to myself, is the typhoon really that strong?What if there was a high flood level? What if our roof came off?

And all those unlimited bad thoughts I had in my mind. I was talking to the daughter of my grandmother’s friend, I thought that she was crying. She said “don’t be too exaggerated on things, this typhoon is not strong and plus we’re used to typhoons, right?” This is not new to us! And I agreed with her instantly. Along with my grandmother and my cousin plus my grandmother’s friend and her family were huddled inside our small house hoping Yolanda would pass the city sooner like the usual typhoons.

I woke up at like 4 a.m. on November 8, 2013 expecting that the typhoon would be over but it got worse. My grandmother told me to move our things on top the dining table so I obeyed her and Mana Net net’s family helped too, we moved our things to places that couldn’t be reached in case it would flood. Soon after we finished moving things, it was really, really raining heavy. I think that is when our roof came off, so the ceiling started to leak in all parts of the house, the kitchen, all of the rooms, and the living room. There was no way for us to stop the leaking so we gave up and just hoped that this typhoon would be over soon.

After 5 minutes of silence, the flood slowly came inside of the house and my grandmother told us to open the door, for us to be able to get out of the house, but it was too late. The flood outside was super high. If we didn’t get out we would die, so we headed toward the backdoor. I was really scared at that moment so I started to cry, I saw my younger cousin crying too. My grandmother yelled at us “Don’t cry, you two! There’s nothing else we could do but to help ourselves! Move your ass and be strong!”

I thought to myself, she’s right, we have to help ourselves to survive this typhoon.

So I powered walk to the backdoor. The flood was up to my grandmother’s stomach. I was thinking, “I can’t do this.” I really hate the water touching my stomach or chest because it makes me feel that I can’t breathe anymore. I didn’t entertain that thought and just keep moving towards the other house, the taller and bigger one. We headed toward their kitchen door, the flood was at our neck already. If I wasn’t stepping on a big rock I would’ve drowned, because I’m so short.

My grandmother was trying to open their kitchen door but it was really difficult for her, so we helped her but still we couldn’t open it. Luckily there were two guys who appeared suddenly and helped us open the door. They got the door open and my grandmother hurriedly came inside the house, but then the wave came in again bringing more flooding and the kitchen door closed. I yelled at my grandmother to open the door, she said she couldn’t. I was really scared at that point.

I thought that was it and we were all going to die.

The level of the flood kept getting higher and higher. I looked at my younger cousin and I knew that we were both having the same thoughts. Fortunately, there was a guy that started shouting our names to call our attention, he was on the rooftop of the kitchen, I hadn’t heard him before because of our sobbing. He ripped off the tin roof of the kitchen and grabbed each one of our hands while the other two guys pushed us up so we could climb up.

But when it was my turn to grab his hand, I suddenly remembered my grandmother. I began shouting, “Lola! Lola! Lola!” And she shouted, go on I’m staying here! Don’t worry about me! So I grabbed his hand with all my might and kept telling him that after he saved me he had to save my Lola too!

There were like 50 people in the second floor of the house I told the man again about my Lola in the kitchen. I looked down and shouted my Lola’s name. I didn’t hear any response, I was nervous because the flood level was still getting higher and higher. All I thought was if this continues my Lola might die. I was begging everyone inside the house to help me get my Lola downstairs, but they said it was too deep for them.

I started crying really hard, I felt so lonely and alone even if there were like 50 people upstairs. I found a bathroom and I cried again and again and again. I couldn’t imagine my life without my Lola and I reminisced all of the memories with her, then suddenly I heard someone shouting my name. I went to see him and he said there was someone that went out to get my Lola. I felt so happy and blessed, I thought I lost her. As soon as I saw her I ran up to her and hugged her.

That was the happiest moment of my life, to see her again, I never thought I would see her alive again.

IMG_2931I promised that day on, I will never hurt her or disobey her ever again. After a few hours of raining, the rain finally stopped. At noon we all went outside to our house to check on it. There was black mud everywhere! I was very shocked by what I saw in our barangay, there were dead animals everywhere, debris, broken things everywhere.

We went to see our house, and oh boy what a mess! Our appliances were everywhere and full of mud! We cleaned the house right away after a few minutes of trying to accept what happened to all our belongings, even our clothes that are inside the cabinet were like dirt. We cleaned the house for hours but it looked like we didn’t clean it at all. My lola said that it was impossible for us, even if we were 6 people cleaning, so we decided to only clean one room.

We were very hungry, we didn’t know where to get food. We saw a sack of rice that my Lola bought before the typhoon, we were not sure if it was still safe for us to eat but we decided to rinse the rice with water and eat it since we didn’t have any food. There was no choice but to eat it. After eating we’re back to cleaning again.

We finished cleaning the room at 8 pm and thendid the same thing again with the rice. We were about to sleep when the people in our barangay started yelling that there will be tsunami that evening. We were all so tired from cleaning and after everything that happened that day, and I thought to myself what did we do to deserve this?IMG_2934

So we walked and walked not knowing if the tsunami was really true until we could find a tall building that would save us from a tsunami. Fortunately, we found one and all the people in bliss were in that building, praying and hoping that the tsunami wasn’t true.

We stayed there until 6 a.m. When we got home, my mother was at the house looking for us and she said she wanted to take us to her house, we walked again for kilometers because there was no transportation available. With everything ruined we used the transportation that has been given to us by God, our feet.

It has been 9 months since the devastating typhoon happened. I know it has been 9 months, but it seems like it happened yesterday.