Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Filipinos amidst calamity

Watching the news, video clips and photos of flood in manila would send me shiver, grief and sympathy for my kababayans out there. Who would have thought a month’s worth of downpour in just 12 hours will cause flood water to rise as high as 2-storey buildings and drive people to their roofs, drenched and cold in rainwater, waiting for help while thoughts of not making it alive crossed their mind? The aftermath of typhoon Ondoy is heart-wrenching. Cars floating around like toys. Thousands fled from their homes as flood water rose up to the roofs of their houses. (I just couldn’t imagine the massive cleaning it would take to scrape all the mud when the water recedes.) Dead human bodies lying around in the corner, in the riverbanks and under the debris of fallen roofs. It is so heart-wrenching to see these people suffer.

Somehow I feel lucky for being spared from this catastrophic blow. But my heart goes out to all the unprepared victims of Ondoy. Nature really has its own way of getting back at us. Reminding us of our obligation in such unthinkable and disastrous way. Maybe our busy lives make us neglect our prime duties of preserving and taking care of our planet. Or have we been worshipping all our material possessions leaving our faith in God on the edge? 

For whatever reason there is, most of us are lucky to be alive and not sharing the same fate as them. But instead, let us make the most of our existence and do everything we can to reach out and help the typhoon victims. Donating food, medicines, old clothes or just anything and any means of alleviating them from this blow would surely go a long way. There have been a lot of organizations around the country who are putting up everything they can to help out. For this, I feel proud that amidst the crisis we’ve been going through as a nation or as an individual, the “Bayanihan” spirit is living within us. We are Filipinos, we are strong, and together, we can pull through this and surmount this calamity.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Sumilon Island Experience

It was a Saturday and had been raining over the past few days. I was watching the sky through the office window looking for some signs that tomorrow would promise a bright sunshiny day. Why on earth would have I wanted for the weather to be favorable? Simply because my friends and I were all set and ready, if not tremendously excited, to go to Sumilon FINALLY after a couple of years of planning and wanting to, and when the plan eventually transpired we had to cancel and reschedule it for the fourth time for the mere reasons of time constraints. I’ve gone to browsing PAG-ASA’s website secretly hoping I won’t come across with the dreaded “Low Pressure Area” and have been intently watching the late night news for some weather forecast in the upcoming days. Gladly, there were no imminent signs of any tropical depressions. So come hell and high water, we are surely pushing through our long overdue and much anticipated escapade.

As early as 2AM I got out of bed and practically pulled myself to get moving. We’re gunning for the 3:30 AM bus trip so we could catch the first boat trip to the island at 7AM. But things would always turn out bad just when you’re in a hurry. We departed from the bus terminal 15 minutes after 4 o’clock. Silently on my seat I was doing the math and figured we’ll be arriving at the
wharf shortly after 7AM since it would take us more or less 3 hours to get there.

Obviously, we missed the boat. The next trip is at 9AM. The shutterbug in me hinted what better way to kill the time aside from chitchatting and looking at the island afar than take photos at every possible corner we could think of. Just when we’re finished with the photo shoot (naks! Do I really have to say photo shoot?) we we’re called in for boarding. Clutching our things, off we went to the island that is just 15 minutes away!

Approaching the island, clear turquoise water and fine white sands greeted us. A noisy prattling group was the first to get out from the boat and lei of shells were given to them as a welcome tradition. The funny thing was, we were expecting the same thing would go for us. But apparently, since we are on day tour unlike the noisy prattling group who are going for an overnight, we don’t get to have the lei donned on our neck much to our disappointment. But who cares? It’s just a damn lei of whatever kind of shells it was made of. So we proceeded to the restaurant for the orientation where we were given a location map so we will know where the must-see places are, which way to go, and most importantly how to find our way back in case we get lost. Immediately, we went down to the lagoon and tried kayaking. I personally loved the activity coz I’ve been wanting to do kayak ever since the time I was in Siquijor. Then we headed to the starting point of the island trekking activity which will take us to a 360˚ degree spin around the island in approximately 45 minutes of brisk walking – meaning to say, no stopping by for picture taking. In our case, we figured it’ll take us an hour since all of us are strike-a-pose-at-the-camera hungry. The trekking was more like a way of the cross on a Good Friday to me. We were trudging a very rock road (sounds like my favorite ice cream flavor but not on this one) under the unforgiving blazing sun. The map disclosed a shortcut on a route to the lighthouse and baluarte (the ruined old lighthouse). With no second thoughts whatsoever, we took a stab at it. Exhausted, stomachs growling and throats waiting to be quenched, we finished the trekking which I think was worth 20 rounds of jog at Abellana. Had we known what our fate might have been, we could have skipped on this one and saved our sweat for a more adrenaline-pumping activity.
So did I mention growling stomachs? Sure did I. But lo and behold! We spotted the magnificent and picturesque shifting sandbar! We rushed into it and completely forgotten that merely minutes ago we debated on whether taking a break first or have lunch. Gosh!!! I’ve heard about sandbars and seen pictures of it but it was actually my first time to see one for real, right in front of my naked eyes. Awwww!!! It’s breathtaking….I can’t seem to focus from which angle should I take the pic. Engulfed with its naturally striking beauty, we can’t help but run around and bathe into the waves coming from all directions. We can’t help talk about it during our sumptuous lunch, which by the way seemed like there’s no tomorrow, judging from the amount of food we had on our plates! Blame it on the tiresome trekking. After all, didn’t we pay 1,500 for this? Forget the poise. Forget the diet. We lunged on our food like a PG (read: Patay Gutom).

We spent the rest of the afternoon snorkeling, swimming on the infinity pool and taking pictures as much as we can. It was my first time to snorkel and boy it was great to see the fishes down there. I had the hardest time among us since I don’t know how to suck and breathe into the tube. I also have this annoying fear of drowning that even though I was donning a life vest I still refuse to let go from the grip of my friends. It’s stupidly funny but I certainly can’t put my trust on the life vest in making me float for all intents and purposes. But anyhow, I could have enjoyed it more hadn’t I’ve been braver enough considering we are snorkeling on the shallow part (because the fishes are also swimming on the shallow part like they know our difficulties hahaha!). This drowning phobia is really getting into my nerves!

I was jaded at the end of the day. The back of my shoulder is swelling and itching from the sunburn. My face is red like I had overly applied a blush-on on it and not to mention my already tanned complexion had become even darker. It was a long day but the experiences we had, the fun, the excitement, and sense of adventure would surely last a lifetime.

blog visitors since 05/19/10