Friday, October 02, 2009

How one storm changed my life

Bad things don't have to be the end of the world. For me, one bad storm was the beginning of a whole new world.

As regular readers of this blog know, Vince and I have been together since 1999. You also know that I never wanted to get married. While I loved Vince, I was quite averse to the idea of marriage, even if it was to Vince. But on September 28, 2006, that all changed when Typhoon Milenyo swept into town.

We were in Vince's 23rd-floor apartment that stormy morning and as I was waiting for him to dress up for work, I heard the sound of wind whistling fiercely and of water dripping... fast. I looked at the kitchen sink—nope, faucet was off. I looked under the sink—nope, no leaks. I looked for the source of the sound, which was getting faster and louder, and to my horror discovered that water was pouring in through the windows! The wind was so strong, it was literally pushing in water through the air holes of the glass windows (the air holes regulate air pressure). The good news was the glass didn't break; the bad news was the entire apartment was surrounded by windows!

I immediately alerted Vince and we tried plugging the holes. Didn't work. The wind was so strong, the water was actually jetting through! Vince hollered at me to save his precious books, which were shelved under the windows. He didn't need to tell me twice. He was busy unplugging his entertainment system. The water rose higher and higher, spreading throughout the parquet floors. It was so surreal because here we were 23 floors up and we were flooded in!

To make a long story short, Vince and I moved furniture and mopped up water the entire day, throwing buckets of it in the sink and the shower, still unbelieving that we were in a flood. But I liked how we handled the situation: Vince was entirely in control and I didn't lose my head either. We were a team, calm and methodical, not needing to tell each other what to do (although we were deeply upset inside!). In the evening, as we sank our tired asses onto the sofa, I remember looking at Vince and thinking, "I'm marrying this man."

Nope, it wasn't a romantic moment. I didn't feel warm and fuzzy inside. I was tired and cold and wet and hungry and Vince was the same. We weren't even talking to each other, so exhausted were we! Not exactly a scene out of a movie. But there I was, looking at him coldly assessing the damage, and I knew then that when I go through the worst storms life can unleash, there is only one person I want to be with. The decision to marry him wasn't born of a romantic or passionate emotion, it was born out of simple logic and it is perhaps the most intelligent decision I've ever made.

Three months after Typhoon Milenyo hit, I proposed marriage with a Sony Playstation 3 and Vince accepted and presented me with a diamond ring. Not a bad exchange, I say! We married on April 2007, just seven months after Milenyo. So, incredibly, Milenyo led to marriage!

(click on pics to read the newspaper article on our wedding)
What wonderful changes do you think Ondoy will bring?

Galady update! And a Matilda story, too.

Galady is still alive.

Her entire left side is paralyzed now. And though her appetite's still healthy, she looks like I had given her massive doses of noxycut because she's definitely not the chubby wabbit with the 17" waistline! But she's enjoying her warm baths and saltwater soaks. I guess that's because when she's floating about in water, she can pretend she's still moving. Sigh. Still, she's in good spirits and that means a lot to me, her mommy.

Matilda, on the other hand, is feeling resentful. For more than a month now, Galady's been the focus of our attention. It can't be helped! And Matilda is not liking it. She's either bullying me about when I'm feeding Galady or she's hunched up in the corner looking at us murderously. I do play with Matilda later on to compensate but she knows we're treating Galady differently. Sigh. I guess I sound silly. But I think mommies (of kids and pets!) reading this post can give me advice. How does one tell the healthy wabbit I love her just the same?

This reminds me of my own sibling situation. I've always been the independent one so I never really needed the attention of my parents. My younger brother was the good son, my sister was the good daughter and then our older brother... well, let's just say he always needed help. So Mama always poured her attention on him. We didn't mind but I did remember feeling annoyed when Mama can't join me for shopping or lunches because she had to attend to his needs. Again.

Whenever I told her about my problems or concerns, Mama always seemed to brush me off, telling me I'd be fine because, yes, I'm the sort of person who always is fine. But sometimes I'd wish she'd scoop me in her arms and just take away the fear and the pain. But she never did that because she knew I was strong, and that even at my weakest, my older brother still needed her more. And I know she knew best because when she pushed, I became even stronger. And look at me now!

So I guess I understand Matilda, but I hope I can make her understand that when I push her away, it's not because I don't love her; it's because she's strong and that, right now, I need to love the one who needs loving the most.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

An invincible summer

Last Tuesday, I was finally able to see my beloved brother Theodore and his wife Rose. They had been busy cleaning out their home of the thick and smelly mud that ravaged them last weekend. Knowing they had lost almost everything, I shopped for stuff for them and their family but not one taxi cab wanted to bring me to Cainta. I didn't get angry--I totally understood. So I just took the train, which wasn't so bad except that I had four bulging bags!

As I exited the train at Santolan Station along Marcos Highway, a strange thing hit me--the awful stench. Everywhere smelled of sewage, rot and mud. This was what really brought the reality of what happened home to me. The mud had also dried by then so that huge dust clouds overwhelmed the commuters and vehicles. I just took a passenger jeep to Masinag and all that dust got into every nook and cranny--when I showered back home, the water washed rust orange!

Theodore and Rose's home was utterly devastated. A huge mess. But they were happy and busy rebuilding their lives. I know their smiles kept the fear and anxiety at bay. I know they were worried about the cost but I also know that they are relieved they only lost material things; 277 of our fellow Filipinos lost their lives.

Looking at other blogs, I see the same spirit of courage and determination to rise above this tragedy. I am deeply moved by the smiles on every victim's face. A fellow blogger wrote, "We are bruised but not broken." Another quoted Albert Camus, "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
A new super typhoon is coming to our country this weekend. I know that this time, we'll be ready. Yet I pray that each of us will be safe and I hope that the golden sunshine that resides within each Filipino will turn the storm clouds away.