Katrina, meet Ondoy.

Every time it rains, I think about the homeless. We are constantly surrounded by the poor, and the streets of Manila flood quite easily during typical rainfall, so it is rather common to hear about lives of the homeless being claimed by flash floods in Manila. It's almost an everyday sort of sadness for a lot of people who live here.

But last Saturday, 26 September 2009, we experienced disaster on a scale that we could never have imagined. The onslaught of Typhoon Ondoy (internationally known as "Ketsana") chose no class, no one group of people to victimize. It didn't matter if you were in the more privileged areas of Loyola Grand Villas and Magallanes, or deep within Cainta, Rizal. The water came for nearly everyone.

It is said that this has been the worst flood in the last 40 years, including Hurricane Katrina. It seems almost unbelievable, considering the footage we've seen from the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. But the truth is sharp and painful.

In one of the most affected areas, Marikina, stands a bridge well over 30 feet above the Marikina river. Ondoy caused floods that went over that bridge, as well as floods in other areas that refuse to go down. Water rushed into homes and drove residents to their rooftops, where many still sit and wait for rescue. I can only imagine what happened to those who didn't even have shelter, if they even had a chance at surviving.

Every minute gives birth to so many insane, impossibly true stories, such as those of University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center (more casually known around here as UERM), where water rushed to the third floor of the hospital. The parking lot was filled with oxygen tanks that leaked or busted open, and so no candles could be lit for fear of an explosion. In the middle of the dark, their only source of light was their penlights.

Then there is the story of Corazon Palomar, stuck on the roof of her home in Pasig with thirteen other people. She was 84, and recently had a heart bypass. They were stranded for 2 days, shivering from the cold, beyond parched and starving as they waited for rescue. A neighbor of theirs managed to salvage one hard-boiled egg which all of them shared. Corazon's daughter, Lily, held her mother to keep her warm. Lily didn't partake of the egg, but instead gave her share to the near-hopeless Corazon.

This is the story we hear over and over. The story that we normally never totally relate to, because disasters usually stand at a comfortable distance from us. The story we normally watch on the news, as seen in human interest pieces. But now it's become the story of our brothers, sisters, friends, children, grandparents, husbands, wives, and lovers, if not our own. It's hit closest to home for every single person I know.

The rescue is slow, undermanned, and disorganized. Help is severely needed all over Metro Manila. And yet what is extremely blessed about this most terrible time is that no one is sitting around waiting for someone else to do something. One of the most touching things I've heard is that the Ateneo De Manila University Rowing Team used toy boats to penetrate Provident Village, one of the most badly flooded areas, to distribute relief goods to those stranded on their roofs.

In this spirit, schools and private organizations have been running relief operations and donation centers since Sunday afternoon. Gawad Kalinga has not only evacuated its own, but is reaching out to surrounding underprivileged communites who weren't as lucky to have GK's devoted rescuers. Companies like Petron and San Miguel have lent their choppers for rescue and relief. Philippine Airlines has decided to airlift relief goods for free.

We have local film stars who swam in the flood or used a surfboard in the thick of the storm just to pull people to safety; one even used a couch as a flotation device to aid him in his rescue mission. Real estate powerhouse Divine Lee has committed her time to reaching the poorest ones who were affected by the typhoon, the ones who lost the little they had to begin with. These are also the stories that surround us now, and they are the ones we hold on to for hope.

The tragedy we find ourselves in the midst of is great, and yet the love demonstrated so freely in these times is the blessing we reap. We aren't waiting for answers as to how the 800 million peso budget for disaster relief could have been spent on the President's foreign trips, or how the NDCC ever believed that having only 13 rubber boats in their possession would be enough, even in a small-scale disaster. We aren't waiting on our government to give our people their due.

Instead, we are taking what we have and whatever we can possibly spare for the sake of our brothers. We are on our feet, we are on the road, we are in the water, and we are wherever help is needed the most. We are steeped in the drive of the bayanihan spirit, the love for our fellow man, and we hope that you are too. I ask that you join us in whatever way you can. Your prayers, donations, and participation will go a long way.

Stay safe and dry, everyone. God bless the Philippines.


  • For more information on Typhoon Ondoy and to submit names of those still in need of rescue, click here.
  • To submit information on missing persons, click here.
  • For local donation drop-offs in the Philippines, click here.
  • Donate to your local Red Cross today. Philippine Red Cross is also accepting paypal donations through the email address give@redcross.org.ph. (Get started here.) Every bit counts.
  • A lot of news has been coming in, for those who want to be part of the retweeting madness, follow me!
  • Photo sources are as follows: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. All photos used in this entry are property of their respective owners.


  1. Thanks gab! very well written. I'll post it on my profile ha?

  2. What a great article. felt ng puso ko. Salamat gab.

  3. Nice one. :) Gab, I'll re-post this okay? :)

  4. Thank you for this! I have tears in my eyes as I read it. I will post on my profile so others can read, ok? :D

    Mia Montalvan-Castrillo (Poveda '91)

  5. My question is- what has the government done and given to the victims? Lahat galing kay Juan. Eh si PGMA? Ang mga local government? Inuubus na kasi nila ang mga budget nila til 2010. Who would have thought that something like this would happen. Wala sila mailabas ngayon.

  6. really heartfelt... thanks Mia for sharing the link, I will also repost this, God bless the Filipinos, kaya natin bumangon!

  7. I came across this link from my Facebook profile, and while I'm one of the fortunate people from Cebu who did not experience Ondoy's wrath directly, I can safely say that every Cebuano's prayers are with each and every victim. Lexmark employees here in Cebu are one with everyone else's efforts in collecting relief goods. As Gab duly closes above, "Stay safe and dry, everyone. God bless the Philippines."

  8. Powerful words, Gab. Thank you for sharing your heart. Love you!

  9. Thanks Gab for posting such a poignant piece on this recent tragedy... I am heartened by the genuune indomitable Filipino response to such calamitous circumstance. I am equally dismayed by the apparent lack of coverage by the international press... our prayers to all those touched by Typhoon Ondoy and hope for continued calm and community solidarity during this recovery.

  10. Thank you to those who posted the link to this entry and for all of your kind words. There is so much work to be done, and enough of us to at least make a dent.

    I agree with our anonymous commenter, and I am also angry about the administration's near-absence and seeming general lack of interest. (It was in the news today that PGMA was in Iligan attending an inauguration while the rest of us were doing her job -- http://www.mindanews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7039&Itemid=50) But after all these years of lies, deception, corruption, and theft, I sincerely doubt that we can expect any humane response from PGMA.

    The good news is that we have each other to count on, including our brothers and sisters overseas and in the provinces, and that seems to be going well. Let's keep the donations coming and keep workworkworking! Good luck everyone!

  11. Very, very well written. Your article has truly touched my heart. Filipino-Canadians are doing their part in reaching out and offering assistance to our fellow kababayans in need. WE are so proud to be a filipino.

    Rina Saguin
    Vancouver, Canada

  12. I was holding back tears as I was reading. Will repost this and hope it will reach other people and touch their lives as well. (Even the hardened hearts)

  13. hi i reposted it to my facebook.. thanks for this post..

  14. I found your blog from Gia Lacson's Facebook and would like to repost this in my own blog. Awesome post, it's hard for us to imagine it here in the States just by gathering it all from the news... your blog gave me an even more intimate view of what's happening there. I'm currently trying to fill up a balikbayan box to send over to either Poveda or even ABS-CBN; I hope my shipment doesn't come too late. Thanks for this post!

  15. well said, gab. i'm proud of you. :)

    will repost.

  16. Hi! Wonderful writing.

    I'm hoping that you can help us create awareness for a project that we set up recently to help long-term efforts of rebuilding the communities and lives of the survivors of Typhoon Ondoy.

    It's called START HERE and it aims to collect artwork by artists all over the world, inspiring hope through their visions of creation and rebuilding.

    Please visit our blog for the details. We'd really appreciate your help. Thank you very much.

    - Lorra

    Blog: http://rebuild-starthere.blogspot.com/

    FB Group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=143893607229

  17. Well said! Very touching and inspiring. I shall repost this, thank you. :)

  18. what an inspired piece of writing....capturing all the important thoughts and emotions on this huge and very sad event...i pray many will be inspired to continue thinking of each other more...

  19. please help repost: maybe we can inspire someone to get up and do something http://bit.ly/JoaKq

    Thank you Gab. There is a shortage of food and supplies. The hype is dwindling but there are more people to feed. SOS kababayan...


  20. couldn't have been better said... adds even more depth to the news...

    every person has his own story.. this is every Filipino's story

    Gab, i'm reposting this ha?

    Tiny - WYA Cebu

  21. crying as i read this very nice article. will repost.

    don't you just love the bayanihan spirit thats all around us!

  22. very inspiring. nakakataba ng puso. thank you so much for voicing out ever so eloquently what everyone is feeling these days.

    let's keep the bayanihan spirit alive!

  23. Thanks you for posting this. I hope the rest of our fellow ountrymen will get the chance to read this too.

  24. Well written. Well said.

  25. very nice article! thanks for posting

  26. I felt the pain and agony of Filipinos...but working hand in hand always keep us alive. This is the true Filipino spirit. God bless the Philippines!

  27. good 1 ^_^ nice post all people....are suffering from the typhoon ondoy :( hope can donate.

  28. Thank you everyone!!! Your comments have been truly heartwarming. I hope everyone is safe with the rain that's going on (again) outside today. Let's keep praying.

    I hope those of you who've read this will continue to share, repost, and help out. The hype is slowing down, but there's more work than ever that needs to be done. I sincerely love you guys, and I hope you all stay safe.

  29. This is a well written article, will re-post on my blog. God bless us, Filipinos!

  30. thanks for sharing. reposted this on http://ondoyheroes.blogspot.com/2009/10/gabriela-tatad-writes-poignantly-about.html

    johanna pilar
    poveda 98

  31. thanks! this is a very good read. This echoes the sentiments of most Pinoys i know. Reading this makes me experience the tragedy on a more personal level since most of the info i get are via the TFC.

  32. Thanks! This is a very good read. This truly echoes the sentiments of most Pinoys i know back home and here abroad. Reading this made me experience the tragedy on a more personal level since most of the info i get are just via the TFC.

  33. beautifully said. the last part of the article is what gets me the most... it's just sad to think that we need a disaster like this to unite the filipino people...

  34. Thanks Gab! this made alot of us here the importance of helping out. :) ill repost ha? so that my relatives from states could donate also and they'll know where.

  35. Let's pray anything like this never happens again.

  36. Your job as a future mother is to learn the god's ways and to help your child understand despite the negative reinforcement and conditioning of today's society. Without consciousous parents the child will have no hope, and may even exaserbate their disfavor by becoming corrupted in today's environment.
    Your ultimate goal is to fix your relationship wiith the gods and move on. You don't want to be comfortable here, and the changes in Western society in the last 100 years has achieved just that.
    1000 years with Jesus is the consolation prize. Don't be deceived into thinking that is the goal.

    Much like the other prophets Mohhamed (polygamy/superiority over women/misogyny) and Jesus (forgiveness/savior), the gods use me for temptation as well. In today's modern society they feel people are most weak for popular culture/sensationalism, and the clues date back to WorldWarII and Unit731:TSUSHOGO, the Chinese Holocaust. They used this Situation to bury Japanese atrocities.
    It has been discussed that, similar to the Matrix concept, the gods will offer a REAL "Second Coming of Christ", while the "fake" Second Coming will come at the end and follow New Testiment scripture and their xtian positioning. I may be that real Second Coming.
    What I teach is the god's true way. It is what is expected of people, and only those who follow this truth will be eligible to ascend into heaven as children in a future life. They offered this event because the masses have just enough time to work on and fix their relationship with the gods and ascend, to move and grow past Planet Earth, before the obligatory xtian "consolation prize" of "1000 years with Jesus on Earth" begins.

    The Prince of Darkness, battling the gods over the souls of the Damned.
    It is the gods who have created this environment and led people into Damnation with temptation. The god's positioning proves they work to prevent people's understanding.
    How often is xtian dogma wrong? Expect it is about the Lucifer issue as well.
    The fallen god, fighting for justice for the disfavored, banished to Earth as the fallen angel?
    I believe much as the Noah's Flood event, the end of the world will be initiated by revelry among the people. It will be positioned to be sanctioned by the gods and led for "1000 years with Jesus on Earth".
    In light of modern developments this can entail many pleasures:::Medicine "cures" aging, the "manufacture" of incredible beauty via cloning as sex slaves, free (synthetic) cocaine, etc.
    Somewhere during the 1000 years the party will start to "die off", literally. Only those who maintain chaste, pure lifestyles, resisting these temptations, will survive the 1000 years. Condemned to experience another epoch of planet's history for their ignorant pursuit of xtianity, they will be the candidates used to (re)colonize (the next) Planet Earth, condemned to relive the misery experienced by the peasantry during history due to their failure to ascend into heaven before the Apocalypse.
    Never forget:::It is not a house of Jesus.
    If this concept of Lucifer is true another role of this individual may be to initiate disfavor and temptation among this new poulation, the proverbial "apple" of this Garden of Eden. A crucial figure in the history of any planet, he begins the process of deterioration and decay that leads civilizations to where Planet Earth remains today.
    Which one is it?:
    One transitions into the other, allowing the gods to wash their hands of obligation to their Chosen One. My personal "consolation prize".
    And since the gods never committed despite tens of billions in mass media, product development and natural disasters/tragedy they will employ the freedom they positioned into the Situation and CHEAT me out of everything.
    The gods are control freaks.
    So much for self-determination.