Hands down, our country has not witnessed a storm like it in recent memory.
And make that two. Ondoy and Pepeng (alternately Ketsana and Parma) hit at the main artery of our archipelago that their impact was felt far wider and far longer.
Uncannily, few in our typhoon-frequented nation had predicted the terrible flooding that enveloped Metro Manila after Ondoy. That it gradually happened on a weekend delayed the realization and response to the tragedy.
Even the agencies expected to provide that response fell short of workers, many of them stranded by the floods, including media.
At news, our reporters and crews who lived far from Quezon City could not go to work. The extra efforts of the few who did go out produced the weekend’s most dramatic images, like the San Mateo “surfers.”
Living in Las Piñas, I had to wait till Monday to report for duty. There I made up for it–my first output for TV Patrol and my first overnight on the field.
Despite our setbacks, the media essentially “governed” the country that September 26 morning as the nation made sense of the floods and the government was nowhere in sight.
Airtime on TV and radio was given to callers and texters stuck on their rooftops
It was simply rain–an overnight of uninterrupted downpour with few winds. The Metro only under Signal Number 1, Ondoy was assumed to simply pass by.
It simply did not.
So did Pepeng, which later hit what Ondoy did not. There came my first glimpse of Pangasinan, a flooded one.
Our eyes and cameras caught the aftermath, as thousands struggled to return to normal.
We saw the ingenuity of people trying to cross the sunken roadways.
The heat and lack of space in schools and stadia turned evacuation centers.
The desperation of evacuees waiting for every batch of relief goods, some even fighting over them.
And the tug of war between evacuees in schools and school administrators trying to bring back classes.
But we also saw the rise of Filipino goodwill and bayanihan. Some may be veiled with political intent, but others of genuine compassion.
For the weeks after, with every storm entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility, we held our breaths.
Thankfully, we saw the worst already pass. The tragedy, though, still reels.
More pics (85 in all) in my Multiply album.