Ever had floods of murky brown water pour through the windows of your house? If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky. Back in 2009, I stood in waist-deep flood waters inside my house, garbage bag in hand, aimlessly wandering through our first floor in search of salvageable possessions. My family had already done what we can: Pushed the piano up the stairs, brought up the couches, a few electronics. Some food. Our pets, save for a couple of hapless turtles swimming around the first floor.
The adjacent households had already abandoned all hope. Pots and pillows streamed out of open doors, while cars disappeared completely — sometimes floating down to other streets. Dad was holding his head in his hands, refusing to speak. Our dog barked madly at the rising water.
The rains stopped in the middle of the night, and the flood water, which thankfully didn’t reach the second floor, receded by midnight. All there was left to do was clear the house of mud — the sinks were full of damp soil — and pick up the pieces of our lives.
It turned out that the most important things in my life could either fit into one garbage bag, or couldn’t fit at all. My family and friends, diplomas accumulated throughout the years. Photos. Sentimental pieces of jewelry. My laptop, which contained all my work. Other than that, little was worth salvaging in a flooded house.
We were lucky. My family could afford to rebuild and start our lives with little more than memory scars. Many others died. The Philippines suffers through more deaths than it should during every storm, but this is no place to rage against corruption and the lives it claims.