My Flood Stories

Butuan City, where I live, is a flood-prone area. My mother and her sisters had told us a lot of flood stories. They lived near the river (we still do). When rainy season comes, the river swells and overflows. There was a time that they experienced flooding for a month. They traveled using bancas (small boat without the outrigger). They had to live with my grandmother’s sister situated in a land with higher elevation but in a village far from the city.

My aunt narrates, “The city was flooded for a month. We had to live in San Vicente with an aunt. I had an earache so bad that I stayed for a week in another relative who was going to administer the shots. In the same month, my grandmother died. Imagine the challenges we had!”

“One time, we were in a boat and the strong current knocked our boat in a nearby tree. Then, the centipedes in that tree fell on us. Imagine us wriggling ourselves in the small boat trying to brush off the insects”, she added. Centipede venom can be lethal, I learned.

At a young age, I was fully aware of flooding in my city. I experienced it. This is a photo of me in a banca with my cousins and aunt while my grandparents and other aunts looked on. I think this happened in 1979 or 1980. (Oh my! I am revealing my age. LOL!) I do not know if the water level already subsided. I can see that the water was just ankle-deep.

I have not experienced flooding since this photo above. Not until 1999. So it was a novelty for my cousin and I to experience it again.


As I look at the pictures now, one thing comes to mind: Leptospirosis.
From Wikipedia:
Leptospirosis (also known as Weil’s disease,) is a disease caused by infection with bacteria of the genus Leptospira that affects humans as well as other mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles… The infection is commonly transmitted to humans by allowing water that has been contaminated by animal urine to come in contact with unhealed breaks in the skin, the eyes, or with the mucous membranes.

We are lucky we did not catch any disease by wading in the flood waters without boots!

On a regular day, the street looks like this:

And my aunt’s house looks like this:

Inside our house, my father had to clean up the living room, dining room and kitchen area.

We were lucky that the water level was not that high. Our bedroom and bathroom were elevated so we can still sleep and clean ourselves comfortably. Remember what I said about family and what matters in life. I still managed to smile and we still had a delicious dinner together as a family. Parang picnic lang! (Like a picnic!)

This flood incident prompted my parents to raise the floor level of the house to about an inch or two. Thus, by 2006, when flooding occurred again, we were spared. The streets were flooded but our house was dry.

Fast forward to February 2011, flooding occurred again. This time, it reached the living room, dining room and kitchen area.

Bedroom and bathroom area were okay. Thank you, God. Thanks to my parents for being astute when it comes to design and engineering. Our no plan/no architect house is still a safe haven.

Since the living room was flooded, we had to carry the sofa to a dry area.

My aunt’s house was flooded, too. They have never experienced flooding before. Since water in the garage area in my aunt’s house was more than a feet deep, my cousin’s motorcycle was parked in my emptied living room. Of course, someone took the opportunity to pose for a photo.

No furniture in the house was damaged. Cleanup was tiring but I was happy I got a workout out of it and a cleaner house.

The casualty

Like most Filipinos I know, I have a penchant for posing for a photo to commemorate an event (even sad ones). Since I have previous flood photos compiled, I thought of having my photo taken in my flooded living room. Since most people in the house were busy, there was no one to take my photo so I set the self-timer on a table. I quickly took my place in the middle of the living room. Alas! I slipped and landed on the flood waters face down. I tasted blood in my mouth. I realized that I chipped a tooth.

Maybe it is Mother Nature’s way of kicking my behind for not taking the situation seriously. I could only imagine what my late father could have said if he had witnessed my silliness. I could have heard an earful from him.

No broken bones. The unwanted fats in my body had a purpose. The flood water may have contributed in cushioning the impact. With a bruised ego and a chipped tooth, I still managed to smile for a photo to mark my stupidity. I already lost my tooth. I am not going to lose my sense of humor. It is a funny story to tell to friends and family. (Yes, I posted it on facebook. No, I am not posting it here. I have moved on. Ha! )

Davao Flood

I have heard stories of the Davao flash flood as early as 5am on June 29, 2011. Because of this, I turned to the internet news to read further on what happened. On the night of June 28, 2011, Wednesday, heavy rains poured into Davao City that overflowed the Pangi river. On a span of three hours, several barangays in the Matina-Bangkal area were already neck-deep in flood waters.

I was busy with errands yesterday that I forgot about this news story. I got a text from my friend this morning thanking me for the prayers for her family. Apparently, her family’s home in Davao was flooded. I quickly said my prayers. I wrote her a facebook message to ask her what I can do to help. I was a little guilty that I never checked on my friends on how their families were. I have quite a number of them whose family lives in that area. It turned out that she only learned of their situation last night. She works abroad and her sister in Manila texted her only last night. Her mother in Davao did not want to worry them. Her sister in Davao who lives with their parents was saving her cellphone battery for emergency since there is no electricity in the area.

My friend told me that on the Wednesday night, when the water was already rising, her sister helped carry their neighbor’s kid to the roof. Then, her sister (who has scoliosis) let their mother step on her back so she can be on the roof, too. Her father was left inside the house to turn off the breaker. It took awhile for him to come out of the house because the strong current made it difficult for him to open it. Their brave neighbor, who does not know how to swim, used all his strength to push the door. Thankfully, his father was able to get out.

It is in an event like this that bonds people together. It makes us reassess our lives and realize that material things matter less. Family, friendship, faith are priceless treasures.

It is cleanup time for my friend’s family and neighbors. She told me none of their things were spared. She is lucky that no lives were lost among her loved ones.

As I read the news today, at least 25 were not as lucky. Several others are still missing.

Another Davaoeño friend wrote this on facebook:
“To all those who want to help and donate to the people affected by the recent flood in Davao City, The Philippine Red Cross at Roxas Avenue, Davao City (beside Marco Polo) is accepting donations in cash, food ( noodles, rice, canned goods, milk etc) and clothing ( “everyday clothes’) . An acknowledgement receipt will be issued for your donations. or you may call +63-82-2276650 for any inquiries. Thank you.”

The Commuter

I spent half of the day today doing errands, mostly paying bills. I have six locations to go to- bank, water district, power company, mall, health insurance, cooperative. Before I left the house, I already list down what I need to do.

Here are the bills I need to pay:

I am getting to all these locations by commute. I have always been a commuter. My family never owned a vehicle after I was born. My dad said he had a car and a jeep when he was younger. My mom never felt the need to own a car. I feel the same way. We live in the middle of the city in the province so traffic is not a problem. Getting to places is easy.

In the Philippine provinces, tricycles and jeepneys rule the streets. My city has these orange tricycles that will get commuters to their desired locations. All I need to do is to flag them down and tell them where I want to go. There are times that drivers get choosy with their passengers, though. If the location is unfamiliar or too far, there runs the risk of not getting to your destination on time. With patience, you will eventually find a tricycle driver who is willing to get you to your destination.

Now, if only I own a bike (or know how to ride one!), I can go places in my city without being snubbed by tricycle drivers. Actually, I used to own a bike and was able to ride it well. Now that I am older, I lost by biking skills. I now fear that I might crash and hurt my knee or bruise my elbow. Last year, I saw this bike in a university in Manila (Go, University of the Philippines! Forgive me for showing some school pride.)

Students can rent these bikes for a semester and bike through the school. What is cool about my school (ahem, ahem, UP pride!) is that there are bike lanes in the campus. (Look at those gorgeous canopy of trees! Who would not want to learn how to bike here?)

I can learn how to bike again if we have a lane like this in my city. 🙁
I will just settle for the tricycles and jeepneys in my city. My commute is still as interesting. Being in one with other people who just need to go somewhere like me is an experience itself (and I may need another blog post for that).

Now, when will we have electric jeepneys in my city like this one?

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