Milenyo: The Aftermath

Twas like a scene from the movie War of the Worlds.

Tree branches and leaves, and whole trees uprooted from the earth, litter the streets and highways, creating countless traffic chokepoints. Hundreds of billboards were also torn down, with not a few killing pedestrians who happened to be under them when these ugly objects came down due to the strong winds. Electric power and cellphone signals were off.

I was lucky to hitch a ride at Quezon Avenue corner Edsa about an hour after the strong subsided, but only up to España.

Just beside Sto. Domingo Church, a tall sign of KFC, the one with the familiar KFC Bucket on top, was bent at the base. The kids were incredulous the huge KFC Bucket didn’t contain anything except for now broken bulbs. I cringe at the thought of how many were near that sign when the storm passed through and bent it that way. As we all know, Metro Manila has no shortage of street kids and other people who live on the streets.

We all got off near Blumentritt corner España, and started to wade in the flood waters while waiting for another ride. Luckily, a passenger in an FX taxi got off, providing me a way to Remedios, which is near our house at Vito Cruz. What normally took 30 minutes became a one-hour trip that saw the taxi rampaging through flood waters, and taking good care we didn’t pass through streets with so many dangerous hurdles like electric posts felled by the winds, or low hanging electric and phone wires, not to mention potholes galore.

Twenty years ago, we lived in Sampaloc where the FX taxi made its way en route to Remedios. When I was still a kid, Sampaloc was incessantly flooded. That remains true for most of Sampaloc until today. Some streets were elevated, but not the houses – so we found some streets unflooded, but households shoving out water from their living rooms.

Upon reaching Taft Avenue, hordes of people were silently waiting for jeepneys, buses or FX taxis which may no longer come. More people were walking right under the elevated LRT tracks. They had blank expressions on their faces, perhaps still unbelieving the huge impact the passing storm wreaked on our daily lives.

Seeing that chances of getting a ride from Remedios to Vito Cruz are nil, and always thinking that brisk walking does wonders to the body, I started walking to Vito Cruz, joining the hundreds making their way through Taft Avenue under the LRT tracks. Some of them were in office clothes. I think they just came home from backbreaking office work, and now they have to walk and wade through the floods just to get home. I stopped thinking and just swallowed everything my eyes saw.

The glass window at the second floor of Avon’s office was smashed to bits. I saw workers there cleaning the mess. I lost count of the number of twisted, torn or bent signs of business establishments along Taft Avenue. Manila Mayor Lito Atienza’s stupid face which we could always see on meaningless and electioneering ads under the LRT tracks went down too, with the storm perhaps sharing out utter hatred of ugliness.

Pedicab drivers made good business. No surprise, because there may have been less than one percent of all public utility vehicles on the streets that day.

By the time I got to Vito Cruz, Globe’s network signal was already gasping for dear life. Ditto for my Nokia 1100’s battery. Starbucks Vito Cruz was like hosting all students of La Salle, CSB and St. Scho. It was full to the brim. Hundreds stood at all sides of Vito Cruz corner Taft Avenue, vainly waiting for their ride home.

I saw our barangay chairwoman leading the streetsweepers in clearing the streets of debris. 10 GI sheet from our streets ended on top of a house a block away. One sheet was later found hanging dangerously

The night was coming. Manila was slowly sinking into total darkness. No electricity. Cellphone batteries were getting drained real fast because the network signals are getting harder to keep. Supplies of candles quickly ran out of all stores in our barangay. The streets looked and sounded creepy.

These were all the scenes I saw after Milenyo passed by Metro Manila with a fury never before seen and heard. Condolences to the families the sixteen Filipino who perished. The nation looks forward to a Bayanihan ng Mamamayan in rebuilding the country from this devastation.

Photo courtesy of Romy Gacad/AFP/Yahoo! News

1 thought on “Milenyo: The Aftermath

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *