Sunday, January 30, 2011

The flood: excerpts

I ENVY water. It can be whatever it wants to be. Or, paraphrasing a grade-school science lesson: liquid assumes the shape of its vessel.

- Basilica del Sto. Niño spokesman Fr. Tito Soquiño, OSA, on the heavy rains and flash flood during the Jan. 15, 2010 Saturday Grand Procession:

“These rains can also be a calling for us to purify ourselves. The small flash floods are an indication that maybe the government should put more attention to solid waste management and the drainage system.”

- From M, who waded in the Grand Procession:

“Morag nag-riot na akong imagination, thinking of all the possible things to be found in that flash flood… I'm amazed nga our footwear held out (during the procession). We came upon some soles and heels left in the procession route.”

- From the Jan. 17, 2011 email of J, a Cebuana now living in New South Wales, to her sister M in Cebu:

“Pit Senyor! I've seen in Facebook that D. and his family went with the procession, and basa kaayo sila (they were drenched). But it looks like his son is enjoying it.”

- From the Jan. 14, 2011 email of J to M:

“Did you hear about the Queensland flooding?... there was a report of horses being saved because they just kept swimming until they reached a house whose roof jutted out of the water. Somebody saw them and dragged them one at a time to land… when they went out (of the water), puro samad na sila (they were covered with wounds). The owners really bawled their eyes out when they saw their horses again kay ila sad laging panginabuhi (because it was their livelihood).”

- From the Jan. 28, 2011 email of E., who once lived in Cebu and has returned to Melbourne:

“Down here in the state of Victoria, we have had a lot of rain, too, and up in the north-east (the grain food basket of the state), which has been through drought conditions for 12-15years, they are slowly being inundated with waters that fill long dried creek beds, rivers and eventually lakes... small miracles for children and teenagers who have never seen such water... the temptations to swim and play were just too great and they have ended up quite sick.”

- From M, stranded by the flash flood submerging the North Reclamation Area last Jan. 25:

“I stood for three hours, waiting for the waters to go down. Others were more urgent about crossing the dirty, turbulent waters encircling this mall. The tambays pulled out all the pushcarts, bicycles with sidecars, even the floating carcass of a junk fridge, anything that could be used to ferry workers and customers to and fro the mall. They charged P10 a head, carried four or five passengers each way. They worked fast because the waters would not stay high forever. Two half-naked entrepreneurs drove by, whooping, “Balik unya, baha (come again, flood)!”

- From a Jan. 28, 2011 Sun.Star Cebu article on Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s views about relocating informal settlers to partially solve the flooding of Cebu:

“The problem with the informal settlers is, the governor said, ‘you can't touch them because they belong to the urban poor’ and city officials seem to be coddling them because they ‘mean thousands of votes.’… She said the informal settlers should be going back to their towns.”

- From M, watching the reactions of people confronted with the unusual phenomenon of a mall rendered inaccessible during mall hours:

“Not everyone readily forked over P10 for the chance to arrive, dry, at the mall. It wasn’t just because keeping one’s balance in a rickety sidecar and avoiding the waves set off by passing vehicles was tricky. For the service crew working for mall locators, P10 was too steep. Many workers only paused long enough to remove the parts of their uniforms they could still save. Women rolled off stockings; men, rolled up their pants. Shoes were carried. A few wore the flipflops they brought with them. Most were barefoot when they waded into the waters. They were still the lucky ones. School children, dismissed for lunch, tried to carry their bags above the waters but many were just too short. The students apparently lived in an informal settlement located near the mall, where the flood went as high as an adult’s chest.”

( 09173226131)

* First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s Jan. 30, 2011 issue of the “Matamata” Sunday column

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