The Flood and The Frisbee Disc

by joanabagano

Written: December 21, 2011 (Exactly a week after Sendong struck Iligan, Cagayan de Oro and some parts in the Visayas)

Both happened on one night.

First, the disc was glow-in-the-dark. You knew when it would hit you. You knew when and where to get a hold of it before it landed on the ground or on somebody else’s giddy fingers. Sweat was trickling down your face and your back, and you didn’t care. It was fun anyways. So you threw and you caught and you threw and you caught. The world revolved around your game.

Second, the water wasn’t glow-in-the-dark but it sparkled underneath the paling moonlight. You could hear the rush coming from above and below. You broke into a sweat because you didn’t know where to go. Just like in a game of Frisbee where one moment the opponents could be all around you, you were stuck. So you whisper a prayer because in that moment of confusion, you might not be the best of decision makers.

That game of Frisbee happened simultaneously with the flood down south.

I’ve been thinking of Sendong the last couple of hours and it’s only now that I thought of what I was doing then. I wasn’t deep in sleep like my fellow Filipinos who got unconsciously dragged by the flood until they woke up realizing they were someplace else. Some just didn’t wake up anymore. I was playing Frisbee. Like PNoy, I was having fun.

I would like to juxtapose some images.

Me running after a disc, my breaths fast and tired. A mother swimming after her son, her cries overpowered by the rain. PNoy laughing.

Me catching the disc, only to find out I was beyond the playing area. The mother getting hold of an arm, only to find out it wasn’t her son but a neighbor and the neighbor wasn’t breathing anymore. PNOy laughing.

I just made up the mother story (but not the PNoy one). The mother story might have happened though. It might have happened four, five, six times in different locations altogether while the rain poured on and the waters rose. It could have been a father and a daughter or a father and a nephew or a grandmother and her husband.

That was four days ago. I’ve almost forgotten the game of Frisbee. The tragedy that happened in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan and in some places in the Visayas, is on the contrary, unforgettable.

The deaths are now estimated at a thousand. A lot of bodies are still missing. Those who survived are hungry and homeless. They are mourning for almost every kind of loss there is. Almost, I say, because I believe that all is not yet lost.

Just like every tragedy, we wonder why. We wonder why and then we look for the cause. We blame the government, the citizens, nature. However, I believe that now’s not the right time to focus on why it happened and how our government responded. It was unexpected, especially in those places where storms rarely ravage. Why not let us concentrate on rehabilitation first and do the analyses later, I ask. Why not do them both together, you ask. Just like my Frisbee game happening simultaneously with the storm, there will be a divide in our focus.

It’s good that the pointing of fingers is buried underneath all the Facebook wall posts sharing 7-Eleven’s fanpage and Red Cross’s text portals. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, 7-Eleven is donating 10 pesos for every new like they get and you can donate money by transferring your load to Red Cross.

Hope is finding its way to our fellow Filipinos in the form of prayers, balikbayan boxes filled with clothes, truckloads of food, a check worth 11.8 million pesos and funny as it may sound, a new like on Facebook.

Like a disc, hope is asking us to focus on it. This time, we have no opponents. No corrupt officials, I hope. See how hopeful I am? J

Forget those last two sentences now. I believe that the more hopeful we are, the speedier rehabilitation will be. Hopeful donors will donate more because they trust that whatever they give will not be in vain. Hopeful recipients will cooperate gladly in the process. And then we can get to the more formal stuff of discussing disaster management. How about that?