By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan
Cameraman Bernie Mallari and his ENG van teammates will not forget the day stormy circumstances thrust upon them the defining image of a typhoon.
They were told to go to the La Mesa Dam that September 26, 2009. The dam was on the verge of spilling over after an overnight of rains brought by Typhoon Ondoy.
But with Commonwealth Avenue already flooded, the team never got there. Instead, they passed by Marikina and Rizal, where they chanced upon a throng converged at the San Mateo Bridge.
A mass of flotsam was approaching the bridge in a wave. When they saw that the mass also carried people, the team lugged Bernie’s camera out in the rain to capture the attempt of those “surfers” to reach safety.
The result is an iconic grab of history. But it did not turn out well for that family caught in the flood.
Last March 28, Bernie arrived at the Marikina Riverbanks with his reporter Sol Aragones to cover the unveiling of TV Patrol’s second commemorative marker as part of the newscast’s 25th anniversary.
The ceremony was awash with memories of the flood—one of the few times the big story struck even those who tell it.
Sol and Bernie were not yet teammates in 2009. But Sol was among the many reporters sent to Marikina, where the destruction only became clearer as the waters cleared.
“Ang unang larawan ko pong nakita yung mga sapatos at tsinelas—(pang) bata man o matanda—ay nakalubog sa putik, parang alaala na talagang nagmadali silang tumakbo para mailigtas yung kanilang buhay,” Sol recalled.