Stranded in Cainta

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Sept 20 Crossing Cainta by Anjo

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Our strides were slow, taking care not to slosh the water in large ripples. The rain had stopped past midnight, but the water in the dimly lit highway rose further up our limbs as we walked on. The occasional ten-wheeler drove by, making waves and raising howls from people who like us were wading through the flood in a single file.

“I can’t remember the last time I walked this deep in water,” said anchorwoman Ces Drilon.

She had been reporting live for Bandila from an upslope part of the Ortigas Avenue Extension in Cainta, Rizal. It was our broadcast point the whole afternoon and evening, trapped between two impassable pools of water caused by monsoon rains strengthened by Tropical Storm Mario.

Ces and her staff’s only hope of returning home lay in a Ford 4×4 Ranger sporting a snorkel. The Ranger also carried food and water for our Electronic News Gathering (ENG) van team, which expected to stay for the night.

Noel Padernal often hauls plastic and metal junk on his pedicab. The rains did not stop him from finding a means to earn. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

Noel Padernal drives a pedicab through the flood. He usually hauls plastic and metal junk with it. The rains did not stop him from finding a means to earn. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

But the Ranger could no longer park. The pileup of stranded trucks at the upslope already extended to the water. The driver could not risk stopping his crew cab in the flood to wait. Before long, he turned and drove back to dry road at the Ever Gotesco mall a kilometer away.

Ces had no extra boots, only sneakers. Then again, donning boots would not keep the thigh-deep water out of her jogging pants. With time ticking and no dry options in sight, Ces, her producer Ferdie and researchers Irish and Niño shrugged and stepped into the water.

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In the eye of 2 storms

Evacuees at Pasig City PhilSports arena / Ultra standing to Mass. They were housed there in the aftermath of typhoon Ondoy / Pepeng

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.

A child evacuee in Pasig City PhilSports arena / Ultra, which took in hundreds of families displaced by the floods caused by typhoon Ondoy / Ketsana

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.

ABS-CBN reporter Ryan Chua going live from Marikina City's H. Bautista Elementary School after typhoon Ondoy / Ketsana

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. Continue reading