The Long Walk Home (2 of 3)

If memory serves me right, it was before 7 in the evening when I made my push to Monumento. Yes it was quite early but the terrible weather made it look discouraging to take the option. I was getting more and more worried. The stillness of traffic along with the gusts of the wind and bursts of the rain made it all the more difficult for me to stay put. My daughter, wife and her niece were the only ones at home and should the weather get worse, it was certain they would be needing the extra hand to keep the situation at bay.

So I joined the flock who were making their way along EDSA by foot. My umbrella sported a broken rib by then but it had to do against the rain. It wasn’t as exhausting as I thought anyway. With a great number of stranded souls doing the same, I had nothing to lose with the decision anyway. I passed through Project 7 then Munoz within minutes. Remaining flood waters along the way were the least of my worries as the one thing I had my mind focused on was to get home.

Same with the sight of those who decided to climb the abandoned scaffolds of the MRT under construction to buy themselves some leverage over the floods along the way. It was somewhat scary and had me thinking how fragile we all were right there.

But came the Ford building past Monumento.

I wondered what’s with the hesitation of those who went for the trek right there. It then became apparent that past the landmark was still a flood basin still somewhere around waist-level when I got there. It was hard for me to recognize what lay waiting farther because it was dark already. So I had to stop and eat a cracker.

And wait.

It was there that I overheard a woman who came from Monumento tell her tale to her friend. She told her horrible ordeal to get past the Balintawak area just before the fork to the North Diversion Road. It was waist-deep she said and she had to hold on to a rope somewhere along the stretch as the flood waters carried beneath them strong currents from the then-overflowing creeks. And she tried her best to discourage people like me from pushing on.

At least not yet.

Moving On

It was past 8 when I decided to push onwards. A lot of those people who chose to wait, after all, were starting to push forward again. Bigger vehicles deciding to move might have provided just enough encouragement then.

It was still knee-deep as I got to realize later. The water rose to at least a few inches at times but it was generally within knee-level. One thing going the way of those who braved the waters like me was that we had the freedom to easily switch to the southbound stretch of EDSA. Unfortunately that meant our feet were vulnerable to the fallen MMDA fences and construction debris submerged in the waters.

The next flood basin after that was even deeper. Waist-deep if I remember it right.

There was no turning back at that point though. Amidst women screaming because they nearly slipped, hapless parents carrying children and scores of others treading the floods, I had to move on.

Thank God it was a pretty straightforward walk after those two flooded areas of the highway.

The Lesser Evil

I was at Monumento around 9. It’s funny how worrying how to actually get there took more time than actually getting there. Yup, I was a mess to understate things but I was there at last. That’s all that mattered. It was a strategic starting point for me homebound if I were to actually get home that night.

Ironically I had to wait again for another couple of hours. I recall having barkers tell me how impossible it is for transportation to pass through then chest-deep roads leading to our place. Hence the utter absence of jeepneys.

I had a choice of two poisons really. One is the usual jeepney I take but will only get me as far as Francis. Or the then rarer Letre jeepneys which gets me somewhere guaranteed to be flooded even during just weak typhoons or substantially lengthy rains.

I don’t know what made me choose the latter. It was not the easier jeep to take for sure but something told me to take that one. Looking back, I know I made the right choice as I overheard people who chose the first recount how a lot of them got stuck there. The contrarian insight did pay off I guess.

But it wasn’t really exactly easy at Letre too.

Stuck in an Island

I got to Letre past 11 after I got to take a jeepney there. The place was a mirror image of the Ford stake-out. Only this time, things looked bleaker.

I saw a lot of people try to make way through the higher floods there. Something told me to wait again however. Maybe it was the fact that I can’t see farther into the bridge over the river that got me hesitant. That and the fact that even busses and fuel trucks found it hard to pass through that stretch.

People around me were just as tired and restless. I can overhear parents this time talk to someone else about how they and their children still haven’t had dinner because of all the trouble Ondoy brought. I can hear teens and workers grumble about their own difficulties. I can hear a mother tell her son to wear the slippers because they were going to brave the floods to get home.

So again I waited. My feet were tired so I had sit in the middle of the island far from the flood’s reaches. I ate another cracker just as I was holding my umbrella which, this time, had two ribs give up already.

Then the wait again.

My watch told me it was already midnight there before I unconsciously napped while holding up my umbrella. I guess I can’t hold back the exhaustion of the entire day anymore.

Homebound

It was 1 AM when municipal rescue workers came up with a truck to take stranded commuters to the municipality. At last. Somewhere nearer.

I heaved a sigh of relief when the behemoth went on its way.

Even with the truck’s height–each of us had to be hoisted up to be able to board its back–it’s muffler wasn’t spared by the waters. It was indeed chest-deep from what I saw from those who waded through it. Something tells me the river had something to do with the water level but it was too dark for me to see if the water beneath the bridge was overflowing towards Letre’s direction then.

When I reached the municipality of Malabon, there were tricycles waiting for stranded commuters.

On my last leg on my way home, I thought of having a nice cup of coffee to get myself to calm down. And maybe to have my drenched feet in hot water to ease them from the past hours’ worth of torture. Even sitting it out for a while before having a nice sleep seemed inviting then.

As I neared our place though, something about the absence of lights guaranteed that things won’t become easier any sooner.

Advertisements

2 Responses

  1. Pat, wrong move walking from SM North to Monumento. You should have taken the trains :-). From Cubao to LRT2, then to Doroteo Jose and LRT1. It will at least save you a couple of hours walking thru EDSA.

    My mom and I walked from Francis to Arkong Bato, and the average flood height is chest deep with occasional strong currents near the bridges. We’re too tired and decided to ride the trike at Arkong Bato for the rest of the way towards our house.

    Our trip started from Cubao LRT2 at 4 PM and we arrived at our place at about 8:45 PM.

  2. Believe me. I weighed those options and with the situation then, taking the trains and risking getting stuck somewhere farther didn’t sound very encouraging. I guess forgetting my cellphone that time did contribute to the decision.

    I heard that people who decided to take the Francis route ended up stuck there. I don’t know how those living within our area ending up there managed to find their way home.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: