It's early afternoon at the office, and it feels too much like Ondoy. As the online updates keep coming and the general anxiety mounts, I feel no fear for myself, who will go home to a second-story room on a slightly sloped street, but for those who might not--
the new staffer who, still unfamiliar with our department's attendance policy, somehow got through the flood in his area to come in for work;
the veteran designer, who was absent for several days last year because she lived in Marikina;
the layout artist who left us last year, who told me then of how he waited in the dark, body half-submerged, for hours;
the people of Cotabato, Rizal, Marikina, Malabon, Bulacan, and still other places--
I finally left the office at around 8:30. I hadn't wanted to go until I'd finished an assignment, but as the other departments switched off their lights and even my usually nonplussed boss began to worry, I packed up for the day. I was the last employee to leave the building, a rite of passage I might have enjoyed, had the mood that seemed to saturate the air not been so somber.
The street leading to our office was about three inches flooded, as was the major road I had to cross to catch a jeepney back to Cubao. Cars, jeepneys, buses, and trucks, usually eager to speed along E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave., moved slowly, like little boats, silent but for the sound of water gently spraying from under their tires.
When a ride finally pulled up, everyone aboard was quiet, as if in solidarity with the rest of the country. The driver played no radio, couples and friends didn't chatter to one another; instead, we seemed to shyly search one another's faces for some small sign of comfort. The same went for the second jeepney I boarded to take me the rest of the way home. Portions of Aurora Boulevard were underwater, and the bars, motels, and columns looked as though they had begun to sink.
On my street, there was flooding at the intersection. I had to find another way around to get to my place but was thankful that it was all I had to deal with that night.
I woke up with the rain hammering against the house and turned on the TV to catch the news. I caught the national anthem and felt my insides leap, but was immensely disappointed to find that each channel proceeded with regularly scheduled programming: cooking shows, cartoons, health talks, prayer hour. Even Twitter, my feed packed with people from another part of the world, showed that this didn't merit some kind of interruption. Rather than comfort me and tell me that all was well and all would be well, it made me feel quite small.
Today, I'm supposed to attend someone's birthday party, an educational talk, and the blessing of a new apartment. Ordinarily, a full Saturday like this would make me feel happy that something is going on, and I am part of it. Instead, thinking of those who've had to evacuate their homes, who'll depend on relief goods for today's meals, who undoubtedly feel that it's too soon to go through this again, I feel that I am missing something, and that safe inside is not where I'm supposed to be.