- Posted August 9, 2012 by
Team iReport featured this story
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your best 2012 weather photo
And life goes on...
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer
This morning, the sun tries to muscle its way through the clouds that have blanketed Manila the past couple of days. It is a tug of war between forces of nature with the populace as an anxious spectator hoping but not yet betting that the light wins over the sheet of gloom that has caused much damage to the city below.
Offices closed early yesterday as heavy rains threatened to paralyze the city further. As we said our goodbyes and wished everyone a safe trip home, our guard sadly said that he had no more house to go home to. It had been washed away by floodwaters the other day. His story is just one of many tragedies this week. Distressed hospitals called for help as oxygen supplies for their ICU’s started to run short. Some flood victims communicated through social networking sites to plead for food and water as they remained trapped in the upper floors of their houses. The more lucky ones only had to contend with mapping out their routes home to avoid flooded streets and traffic jams. Amidst this catastrophe, hardened inmates of the country’s maximum security prison skipped lunch and donated it to flood victims proving that there is always hope and goodness even from the unlikeliest of places.
Today the rains have stopped and hope springs in everyone especially those hard hit by the calamity. As I drive my way around the city, I spot people returning to their homes and trying to rebuild what lives they had before the disaster struck.
Flood waters are still on a rampage in the Marikina River and many areas are still flooded. The water is a muddy brown like caramel but nothing is sweet about this tragedy. Garbage is everywhere and floats with the current. I spot a floating dresser cabinet as it passes under the bridge I am on and wonder whose memories its mirror has seen. The bridges are filled with people taking pictures with their digicams and mobile phones. In a dense community beside the riverbank, a boatman navigates himself around a tight alley looking for people to ferry to dry land. I see people rebuilding houses, young children wading through waist deep waters risking falling into open manholes. On the other bank, workers brave the currents to salvage floating rolls of industrial paper which were washed a few kilometers downstream when the deluge broke their factory’s fence.
My route took me near the Industrial Valley Complex, a squatter relocation site beside the banks of the Marikina River. Along the highway, the water has started to subside and the residents of the complex are slowly looking around the banks of the river hoping to find remnants of their lives among the riffraff. I snap photos with my Leica and spot a pair of boots beside river bank. This area is a low income neighborhood and the boots I see are not too worn out. I’m sure its owner had saved a lot to acquire them. Now they are just one of the lost items in a pile of anonymous debris.
The residents sift through the embankment and try to pick up their lives once more, a scene I’m sure is mirrored in many other flood stricken places. A group of teenage girls gather around each other sending SMS perhaps to boyfriends somewhere in the city. A woman catches a snake swimming in the river bank and proudly displays it to everyone who cares to look. Whether it will end up as a pet or a meal, I do not know. A boy braves the murky water and reclaims a couch, pushing it by himself back to dry land. A father and his son scour the edge of the river looking for pieces from their house and put whatever they can find in a pile by the road. Among them is a gold colored picture frame. Its glass pane is gone and whatever photo it held has also been swept away. Despite its condition, the picture frame represents an existence still worth living and is one of those set aside to hold another photo once everything has settled back to normalcy.
It is a sad scene but one of hope. As I turn to leave, a man calls out to me and asks me to take his photo. He spreads his arms wide and joyfully shouts out the Tourism department’s slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines!”
A young woman beside me shouts, “nakakahiya ka” (you are embarrassing) and laughs out loud. I smile at her as everyone joins in the laughter and I realize that this is what it is to be a Filipino. It is this resilience and joie de vivre that has always pulled us through good times and bad.