even before ondoy and peping, i already had my fair share of the struggle. that although, my place was not directly hit by both tragedies, i was able to experience how it feels like to find your way in these kinds of catastrophies.
two weeks before ondoy hit metro manila, i was on my way to the provinces of bataan and zambales for my research. i was able to finish bataan with no hassle. but when i reached olonggapo city and looked for a bus trip to botolan, i noticed that there were no direct trips going there, which i find odd.
the bus driver informed me that the bridge that connects carael and botolan was not passable, that they are even under a state of calamity due to the previous typhoon that hit it. nonetheless, he assured me that i'll still be able to reach botolan, one way or another. being the naive traveller me, i believed him.
it was more than a couple of hours trip. there were even times that i couldn't feel either my ass or balls anymore. there was a lola with a baby, who rode along with us. and the baby, perhaps 8 months old, was crying on the top of her throat despite the attention and the collective efforts of everyone inside the bus in calming her. we later on suspect that the baby is hungry. unfortunately, the magaling na lola actually forgot her grandchild's milk bottle. i wondered, sino ang makakalimot ng dede kapag may dala kang bata sa byahe. but i thought, siguro ulyanin na din si lola.
we already lost hope upon hearing this and conditioned ourselves that we'll have to bear with the kid for another hour or so. until finally, the lola broke down. she was already screaming and started begging, "NAKIKIUSAP PO AKO, PLEASE! SINO PO ANG PWEDENG MAGVOLUNTEER NA MAGPADEDE SA BATANG ITO?!"
all the women inside the bus started screaming upon hearing this. but no one was brave enough to take the challenge. i even felt quite embarassed when i noticed the baby staring at my chest. well, i pretended as if i didn't notice and hear the old woman's plea. besides, i didn't want to spoil the child's innocence, right?
eventually, the mag lolas were able to reach their destination, still with normal auditory senses. but when i thought, the struggle was already over, here comes the bridge, the driver was telling me earlier. we literally had to walk probably a kilometer from the bus stop and cross a piece of steel bar underneath a raging flood. and mind you, it was already past 6 in the evening then, with only the thought of not falling down in mind.
when i was able to cross the bridge, from afar, i saw the baranggay hall, almost half submerged in flood. we had to wait for another 15 minutes for our ride to arrive. i was actually thinking of rubber boats or a yacht (sosyal!) then suddenly, i saw a big dump truck, like the ones you hear with that irritating tone of chopsticks, making its way to our spot. i climbed myself on top of it, with the thought of always falling down. but the people there were gracious enough to give out some helping hands. the same thing happened, on my way back to subic, but with an added rain storm.
honestly, it was one hell of an adventure. considering the fact, that it took me almost a day to go to botolan just for a minute of interview.
when i thought that bayanihan, with people helping each other, carrying a nipa hut to transfer itfrom one place to another, is alread a myth and can only be found in hekasi books, here comes this trip and then ondoy, then peping and who knows what else will come next.
nonetheless, it was a very memorable trip, not to mention i was able to had breakfast with akiro sato the next morning in my lodge at subic.