Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Encounter with Ondoy

Last Saturday, our hometown Marikina served as the bull’s eye for Ondoy’s wrath. In just a few hours, our place (Tanong, Marikina City - which is just infront of the gravely damaged Provident Village) turned into a gushing mud-filled river with extremely fast torrent that carries trucks, carabaos, and even frantic people into destruction.

I am so thankful that I am still here with fingers rattling on the keyboard, alive except for bruises and wounds on my hands and feet. Let me relay my encounter with Ondoy.

September 26, 2009
1:30PM – I was upstairs gazing out of the window when I saw the floodwater flowing on the streets. I heard my mom shouting in panic that floodwater is rapidly moving towards us, so I went down and helped moving things. I just grabbed the AVR and wires of the PC when I saw water rushing inside the house! That’s how fast the water came in!

inside our gate

2:30 PM – We managed to save some significant things – TV sets, PC, laptop, important documents, etc. But the ref, gas range, and other equipment were left floating in floodwater. =( Ondoy’s wrath harshly poured non-stop and our ground floor was submerged in floodwater.

4:30 PM– Our whole family was at the 2nd floor hoping and praying that the rain will stop. Panic struck me when I heard that no rescue teams were present during that time for they cannot cross the strong current. I prayed fervently that our lives be saved, especially my 4-month-old niece, Mishi.

No more gate and car =(
3 nearby dams were opened resulting in heavy flow of flashflood in Marikina.

5:30 PM – We lost hope that the rain would subside, thus we decided to evacuate to a higher place – our neighbor’s 2nd floor for it has a way to a 4-storey house. It was almost getting dark, so we decided to go. With the help of kind-hearted individuals, we crossed the slippery roof leading to the way of safety. (I hope.) I told myself ‘Don’t ever look down, if you don’t want to see the gushing mud water and fall off the roof.’ With all the strength and courage, I didn’t mind the heavy rains pouring all over my body and crossed the roof. I waited and pulled my mom up, too.

10:00 PM – Ondoy continued to furiously sweep Marikina. There were 2 babies inside the room where we evacuated (Mishi and our neighbor’s 2-month old son). Neglecting the thirst and grumbling stomach, we waited in vain for the rain to stop. All phone lines were out so we lost communication with the outside world.

September 27
1:00 AM – I wasn’t able to sleep a wink. All the while we were inside the room; I kept listening to the sounds outside. Some of our neighbors made fun of the situation. When a carabao was carried by floodwater, they shouted “ULAM!”. When toppled vehicles came passing by, they shouted “KALAKAL!” I also saw some guys drinking beer on the roof or even shouting “Tarzaaaaan!” and tried crossing lines to go from one roof to another. Such a remarkable quality of Pinoys – to remain joyful despite calamities.

2:30 AM – The rain subsided. We waited for the water to reach knee-deep level before we go back to our homes. I chose to cross the roof again, instead of crossing knee-deep mud water (which my mom preferred). No electricity, no food, loss of belongings, but we were all thankful we survived.

Ondoy continued to pour, but without the former wrath it had a few hours ago.

I can’t remember if I slept, but the moment I opened my eyes, sunshine was creeping through the windows. Thank you...

After Ondoy's Wrath

Lessons From Ondoy:
1. Adrenalin rush can be thrilling in times like this – Our neighbor housewife managed to carry their refrigerator to the 2nd floor. LOL
2. Smart is the most reliable telecom when calamity strikes. Sun and Globe (the ones I’m using) both lost connections early. Tsk tsk
3. Properties are useless. It is our lives which are important. So, never ever be materialistic.
4. Frogs, cockroaches, snakes and floating poop can be your acquaintances during flashfloods.
5. During power shortage, the best gadgets you can have are candles and matchsticks, not IPOD, PSP or notebooks.
6. Filipinos are really entrepreneurs – Scavenger boys earned a lot from the remains of the flood and the junk shop got a lot of resources for their business. Half a kilo of pork can be inflated to P150! Imagine people fighting for the sake of a Wilkins bottle and pandesal!
7. Equality is seen everywhere – The rich and poor are walking on the streets, all soaked in mud, and holding hands with each other to cross the current. Elites, foreigners, car owners, construction workers, businessmen and the mediocre – all are equal.
8. Priorities can be redefined in calamities like this.
• There was a wake in our street for a man who died a few days before Ondoy’s wrath. When people saw flashflood gushing in, they carried the coffin to a higher level for they did not want the body to be “double-dead” in the flood.
• There is an elderly couple who lives near us. The lola evacuated early, leaving her husband in the house. The lolo didn’t have enough time to move out, so he was left in the 2nd floor. Good thing the flood didn’t carry him away. Their vow: In sickness and in health, til ONDOY FLOOD do us part. LOL

Thank you to Jehovah God for the protection during these calamitous times, and for the strength and ‘power beyond normal’ we had.
To the kindhearted individuals who expressed their concerns and updates thru all forms of communication…
To the numerous friends and relatives who visited us and helped…
To the worldwide organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Relief Operations, especially to other congregations (The help and concern is really nationwide and even international, really grateful)
And to those who went to our house and personally helped in getting our house fixed after the flood, to those who brought bountiful food, thank you so much.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Over a Cup of Coffee

I wasn’t a coffee lover, actually.

Given an option of drinks to choose from, I would prefer fruit shakes or juice over a cup of coffee.
I have always thought of coffee as unhealthy (yeah way too traditional), something which causes nervous breakdown, insomnia, and other ailments.

But with the advent of caffeine innovation and the spread of cafes around, this tingling aroma of coffee seems to attract me.

However, it is not the coffee itself which I’m interested in.

It is the people whom I drink coffee with, or the moment when I drink this relaxing liquid.

Be it the most expensive frap from Starbucks or the homemade Nescafe coffee, I would surely enjoy the talks over a cup of coffee, the laughter that reverberates in the room or the well-kept secrets revealed between trustworthy hearts. Even a slow sip of warm homemade coffee while reading a great book and the letting the rain pour outside is one of life’s great moments.

Yes, talks over a cup of coffee can bind hearts, accomplish goals, finish projects, solve problems and relax a weary mind.

So the next time someone says “Let’s have a talk over a cup of coffee”, get yourself ready for a great moment. :)

Talks over a cup of coffee in the car

Friday, September 18, 2009

Missionary Encounter

I just want to document a very unforgettable encounter I had. In a meeting invitation for this year’s Gilead School, I was able to join a team of selfless advocates. But the highlight of the experience was that I met 2 missionaries from Papua New Guinea. They are a couple who already served in various lands, and guess what, the husband is a Filipino from Pangasinan (who has been in Papua New Guinea for 10 yrs!) and the wife is a Japanese.
I learned a lot of things from our encounter. In order to be a missionary (serving in foreign places where there is a great need for preaching the word of God), one thing you need to have is ENDURANCE.

ENDURANCE: Two words can be retrieved from it – END and RUN; which means running until the end.

I was very much strengthened from the experiences and trials they encountered, and I want to share it with you.

1. Being a missionary based in Taiwan, the husband became a victim of a car accident. Reckless drivers in Taiwan, make sure that their victims are already killed (they go back, run over the victim, and run away). When a car hit him, the missionary husband, pleaded for help. The driver pitied him and brought him to the hospital. The missionary even preached to the driver while in pain. As a result, his life was saved and the reckless driver became a Bible study eventually.

2. In some remote areas, CANNIBALS do exist. The missionaries constantly flee for their lives, so that they will not end up being served on a platter for the tribes.

3. Nomadic as it may sound, but they sometimes ended up living in a bush or under trees. The wife’s most difficult scenario was having to endure insect bites for they slept without the comfort of four-walled houses.

4. Communication barrier is a major problem, and it requires a long time to learn the language of the place. Cultural difference is also a problem, and so is food. “Nothing beats the Philippine food sinigang and adobo!” exclaimed the Filipino missionary.

5. No cellphones, laptops or any high-tech devices was available in some areas. No emails, Facebook, or Blogger, for that matter :P

These are just some issues, but absolutely there are more. Being a missionary may prove to be difficult and challenging, yet these missionaries have a blissful glow in their eyes and a fulfilled voice coming from their hearts. Why? Because they adjust their lives in order to serve a worthwhile purpose, the greatest career of all time – being of service to kind-hearted individuals thirsty for the truth and being of service to God. What more could they ask for?

The selfless missionary couple who sacrificed for the love of God and neighbor.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fuji San (The Prominent Mount Fuji in Japan)

A Japan trip is never complete without seeing the famous Mount Fuji, visiting the lakes around it (such as Yamanaka and Sai), eating soba in the famous restaurants, and venturing into captivating sights of flowers, animals, and placid waters.

Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest and most prominent mountain, can make lifelong memories. It is a well-known symbol for the country and is frequently associated with Japanese art and photography.

The classical cone-shaped mountain, with its ice-capped peak

A little trivial fact:

I asked Japanese friends why they call Mount Fuji as Fuji san, instead of Fuji Yama (yama for mountain). This ‘san’ may sound like the honorific after someone’s name (sometimes translated Mister or Miss), but it is actually an alternative reading of the character for mountain, usually pronounced ‘yama’.

Some mountains are called yama. It can be called Fuji Yama. I learned that the ‘san’ is an indication of deep respect. Some locals treat the mountain as sacred, even as a god, that’s why they use ‘san’.

Here are pictures of Fuji san, the historic mountain in Yamanashi, which the Japanese people take pride of.

Enjoy ;)

Fuji Hakone Izu-National Park

View from Lake Yamanaka (Yamanaka-ko)

Lake Sai (Sai-ko) overlooking Fuji San

Sai-ko Garden

The famous Fujiyama Coaster at Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park.

Never visit Fuji without trying the yummy Yakisoba,
which comes in big servings and various flavors!

For more pictures, please click here and let me tour you in the marvelous world of Fuji san. ;)

Sunday, September 13, 2009


“I am afraid of small rooms and narrow places. I find it difficult to breathe. I feel the walls and ceilings slowly closing in on me, forcing me to be pressured. I feel suffocated and lost control. Panic-stricken, I look for an escape but found none. Slowly, I lose all my senses.”

This is what a claustrophobic feels.

I remembered an instance when I was riding an elevator and people started flooding in. A girl shouted and made her way out. She cannot stand the limited space inside a closed elevator, for she might faint. She’s claustrophobic, That’s why.

This shot reminds me of Robert Langdon, the protagonist in the work of Dan Brown.

Having claustrophobia (from the Latin word claustrum “a shut in place”), an individual, like the fictitious Robert Langdon, feels an anxiety disorder, fears of having no escape, and being closed in. As I was walking in this corridor, no voices, no noise and no one nearby, I remembered the claustrophobic girl and the account of Robert Langdon. I walked slowly, pretending to be in a movie. :P

And I thought of a figurative lesson: Do not venture into other people’s personal space. Let them be free to do the things they want. Everyone shall be responsible for each action undertaken. A sense of freedom and responsibility can make an individual matured and fully-developed. =)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

It’s Not Pink All the Time

She captured the hearts of a lot of individuals – from the three-month old infant wearing her baby dress, the chic teenager carrying her handbag, to the forty-year old mother buying her sweet candies.

This simple round-headed cat with a few whiskers, a spot (which serves as her nose), no mouth at all, and the signatured ribbon hanging on her head; is one of the most famous characters in the whole world.

Being a lover myself, I had a chance to visit my favorite character in her hometown, and I sort-of, had a getting-to-know date with her ;)

Let me share a few trivial facts about her:

  • Born in 1974 (She’s much older than I am, yet never looks matured! Haha She remains a kitten forever)
  • Japan is her hometown, technically speaking for she was created by a Japanese designer. Sanrio is her world.
  • However, in her own make-believe world, she lives in London, and her surname is White!
  • Full name is KITTY WHITE.
  • She is popularly called Kitty-chan, but Westerners made her famous as “Hello Kitty”.
  • The first Hello Kitty product is a vinyl coin purse.
  • She has a twin sister named Mimmy! (maybe her twin doesn’t want to be on the spotlight)
  • Hello Kitty - a cat that was kittenish – has earnings of about $1billion!

Certainly, it’s not pink all the time. Most of her products are pink stuffs, yet the real Hello Kitty wears a kimono, and sometimes a summer dress and hat!

Lesson learned: Don’t always stick to your trademark. Pink may be good, yet explore different hues and combination. As I go on with life, I learned a variety of “colors” suitable enough for me. I am not the mechanical pink-lover anymore, but have learned to adjust to the varieties of colorful hues around me. Thanks Kitty-chan for an insightful chit chat.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Yihee! Sobrang Cheesy!

Cheesy. Mushy. Whatever label people use to describe extreme or unlikely sweetness.

Here's a shot that may be tagged under this category.

Believe me, I didn't take this on purpose. I don't want to be a paparazzi. LOL

The truth is, I was shooting the disciplined audience waiting for a street parade. While browsing my shots, my eye caught sight of this cheesy couple.

I find them cute, though.

They may be models for the next Greenwich "sobrang cheesy commercial." (winks)

Girl: Gimme a kiss sweetie.
Guy: Do I know you..

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Restroom Talks

It was a typical Sunday night which is not so extraordinary from any other evenings...

...until, something happened.

I entered the restroom and stayed there for more than a minute...Fixed my hair, powdered my face, and checked out my looks.

Suddenly, I was surprised to see a guy came in.
Amused, I just smiled said to myself, "He was mistaken. Very funny."

Then, two more guys came rushing in.
I raised an eyebrow, and said to myself, "This is the ladies room. They aren't supposed to be here... Unless..."

It was the MEN's comfort room! Pretended I saw nothing and walked out... LOL

Lesson learned:
Always pay attention to signs.
And if you don't, always be poised despite embarrassment. :P

Restroom Trivia:

In Thailand, there are some buildings with three types of restrooms:
  • Ladies
  • Gentlemen
  • Lady Gentlemen - for the gay people :P
That's how they value the so-called third sex population.

In some Eastern countries like Japan, they have this restroom bowl for ladies. Ladies have to squat on the floor to pee. I find this better than the Western style, for this is more hygienic.

That's all. Enough with too much restroom talks. :)