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I Shouldnt Be Alive: My Story of Sendong's Onslaught

I Shouldnt Be Alive: My Story of Sendong's Onslaught

Note: Out of boredom kanina. Sorry for the incorrect grammar. I’m not a good writer. I’m not good in English too. English is my waterloo. :((

  Gardenia, a place where we supposed to stay for 17 days in preparation for the Philippine Nursing Licensure Examination. It is situated at Tambo-Biasong, Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City. One of the places heavily affected of Typhoon Sendong. It is a place where you will know who and who in PEAK Butuan.
  I spent every night at the place laughing because my room mates are always cracking jokes, sharing of knowledge,expressing feelings and even do tsismis. (hmm.. I have to tell you that even boys love tsismis. LOL). When I felt like I’m about to burst from unexpressed sensation, a swimming at their pool calms my spirit and even decreases my anxiety.  Great memories were created at the place as well as strong friendship and bond. Let us say, for most of us, the place is a safe refuge.
            Time blurred my eyes as I count down for the upcoming exam – 2 weeks, 1 week, 6, 5, 4 days when we culminate our final coaching. I’m so happy that day for I received a Full Body Massage Gift Certificate. I planned to use it “THE DAY BEFORE THE BOARD EXAM”. Oh! How I unleashed the capslock of my keyboard for that phrase. How many people have waited for that day? MANY, because it was planted in our mind that something good will come THE DAY BEFORE THE BOARD EXAM. That phrase if you’ll say it will save you from your unnecessary anxiety of failing the board exam. It’s like Christmas Day when mighty Santa Claus gives you gifts but for us reviewees it’s a key for that difficult board question. I think you already knew what I mean.
            Two days before the board exam, I always see students flocking around to someone with a laptop studying the alleged “L” that will aid us. To tell you honestly, not even 1 question came out from that.
Anyways, I knew then that a typhoon will hit Cagayan De Oro. I thought it will come the day of the board exam, how I imagine taking the exam with stormy weather - sad, gloomy environment. I slept the afternoon and woke up for I have a visitor. It was starting to rain hard. In the evening, I partied with my friends (I don’t want to name them), drinking T-ice and doing chitchats. The rain didn’t stop on releasing its tendrils.
  Around 9pm, the lights turned off but came back after few minutes. Then came the second brownout for like 30 minutes. When the lights are back, I decided to go to sleep to rest my mind. NREM to REM Level 2 to be back on my senses when I heard a bang and my roommates came running to our room saying “Bai, naay tubig” I saw even, with no lights, few centimeters of putrid smelling water seeping under the little gap of our door. I hurriedly transferred my things from the floor to my bed. When I tried to reach my shoes, the water filled our room like 1 inch every 10 seconds. One of my roommates opened our door and volumes of water rushing inside. Panic was at its zenith. Ken shouted “Lord tabang Lord!”. Randylle pounded the ceiling two times. My brows crossed. What is he doing in the middle of this disaster? I said to myself. Then I realized it was a distress signal maybe, or just a signal to alert the other rooms of the doom or whatever. “Panggawas namo!” someone shouted. I was on my full alert senses then. I jumped from my bed (second level of a double-deck bed); the water was on the level of my neck. The currents were strong as I pushed my body to go out from the room. I could clearly see the path I was going. You’ll call it sympathetic stimulation causing your eyes to dilate but for us survivors, it’s more than that, its divine intervention saving us from the wrath of floods.
 I was cruising and anchored my hands to an aircon machine. I saw how everyone climbed to the wall saving their selves. I’m always trying to block the thoughts of that scene, I don’t like it. Then I swam to the nearest wall and asked Roy to pull me up. Heavy rains poured hard. Then I clambered the roof. It was slippery but I don’t care until I reached the second floor.
   I sought solace in the dark place but there’s none to be had. It was very cold. I was trembling. I was hyperventilating. I was catching my breath –breathing the crisp air. My heart was pounding and the only sound I can hear was that of my blood as they run to my temporals. My body went numbed. I couldn’t move my body even a little step. I can’t think clearly. My mind was flooded with so many questions of what happened? How I survived? What’s going on? Is this a dream? Are we all okay? etcetera. Until, I think it was Ken shouted on my ear, “Tabangi ang uban!” then I found the rushing will to move.
   The atmosphere was filled with shouts of my classmates begging for help, “Bai tabang bai…… “. I pulled out every hand I could reach. My room mates of Room 131 lead the rescue as they shouted “Ang mga girls bai!” repeatedly.
It was around 1:45 am as someone looked at his watch. As I turned, the boys are smashing the ceiling of the girls’ room. I saw the girl’s faces begging for comfort as one by one, they were pulled out from their room. Weeping cries echoed. I hugged the person I knew and the tears slid on my cheeks.
I pushed my body to a corner. I watched from the distant how Kuya Kim and Kuya Arieston, in an authocratic way, leaded the group. They made a bridge from whatever solid material they could take hold of for us to transfer to the second building. I was praying to the Lord for ALL of us to live, I can’t handle the thought that someone from us will end in that tragic disaster. Everyone successfully crossed to the second building. The flood was catching us so we have to move to the rooftop. “We survived the flood but going to the rooftop, we exposed ourselves to hypothermia”, I said to myself so I seized a cloth and wrapped my body.
The group was separated others went the other day to the second buildings rooftop and others went to a back exit. I went to a back exit. I entered a long hall. It was so black. I can’t see anything. I have no idea were that path leads but the need to escape keeps me going. The only guide I used was the voice of someone from the far corner, “Diri!..Diri!”. The boys made a rope out of cloth for us not to be carried by the strong current. I crossed to the other building holding the modified rope. Then I found safety at the rooftop - that was the last stand if ever the water will still reach us.
I pressed myself to a corner. I realized what was going on. It was a flash flood. There were so many thoughts in my mind. Riddles to questions. My eyes betrayed me. Tears flowed. I wanted to rest but scenes flashed blurring my capacity to relax. I eyed everyone watching their expressions, their motions. I pitied. I was blank. People asked me if I’m ok, I just nodded like a reflex, the opposite of my true feelings.
The night was utterly black. The magnificent moon hid behind the forming clouds. I couldn’t see any stars.  I thought, Is this the fate for all of us PEAKERz? Is this the end of my 8 month preparation for the exam? Can we still take the exam? The answers are not still within my grasp, it made me anxious. I prayed again to the Lord our God.
We waited at the rooftop for at least 5 hours battling the elements that posed us to risk of complications. Sounds of collapsed buildings were heard from our point. We heard echoes of cries and shouts houses-to-houses. Until the sun loomed in the horizon and we could see that the water was knee-high, we decided to go down. There I saw how Typhoon Sendong’s wrath unleashed its fury to Gardenia and other houses – indescribable. We marched from Gardenia for about 700 meters to where help was. I saw dead bodies laid side by side.How it tears my heart to see a mother walking in the flood crying. I don’t know what she cried about but I can feel the pain she felt.  The panorama was eerie like you were drag to the abyss.
We were transported to our review center with a rescue truck. The weather was fine. Mr. Sun shone like nothing happened still lighting every faces of the victims trying to bring a smile.
I was clad with mud, fetid smell and my cut was aching. I knew I was hungry but I don’t have any appetite.The need to contact my family was great. They must know what happen to me. They sent me to Cagayan expecting nothing will happen and I will be back after the exam. My mom sacrificed a lot just to send me to Cagayan. What if my life ended in that disaster? The question made my eyes watered. I didn’t remember any phone numbers at all. But still I borrowed a phone, typed a number but the number can’t be reached. I couldn’t contact my family. Tears fell down.
 It was also said that the exam might be postponed. Postponed? For a week? My family can’t afford another week for me to stay at Cagayan. They exhausted so much. Rachaelle came to comfort me and my eyes betrayed me again, tears fell down. I couldn’t help myself but to cry. I was thinking of my family, my future and my fellow reviewees. I tried to sleep but the resonance of cries and help ringing in my ears kept me awake. I shove myself to a sofa, blocking and auto-tuning to erase, erase, erase any thoughts. Then my body shut down and I fall asleep.
We were transferred to Budgetel. The receptionist assigned me to Room B16. She called my name, “Polgarinas” Someone approached me from behind. He asked, “Anak ka ni Chitas?” I answered yes. He asked again if I have contacted my family for which I answered negatively. He explained that he knew my older brother and he came from our place. I saw him phoned several person but the latter don’t answer their phones, until he phoned a policeman asking him to inform my family that I’m okay. The policeman went to our house and gave me the chance to talk to my mom. I explained what happen and my mom still encouraged me to take the exam.My classmates and friends came and gave their support. (I already thanked them to one of my posts). I’m still thankful for them. They are my true friends.  I am also thankful for the Xavier PEAKERz for supporting us. I big thanks to Mam Marivic Yamit-Tabasan and to the PEAK Management Staffs. I am thankful to Mr. Paul Delfin Jamero for believing in me and encouraging me to do my very best.
I was so tired that I fall asleep early. I heard someone calling my name. The sound was familiar. I slowly opened my eyes and I saw my mom on my bed. I thought it was just a dream but it was real. It was my mom sitting on my bed. I hugged my mom and tears slid on my cheeks again. My mom actually rushed to CDO to support me and insured that I was doing fine. How great it was to have a mother right at your side the moment you need her the most. 
  It was announced that the board exam was not postponed and it will be tomorrow. It is okay to take the exam without NOA and uniforms. “Whatever happen, I need to take the exam”, I said to myself.
The day of the board exam came. I saw other students flaunty wore their white uniforms. I uttered, “Lord, partida na kaayo ni, sila naka sapatos ako naka tsinelas, sila nka uniform kami naka pambalay lang, Lord please help me. Guide me as I take the exam. I’ll do my very best. Kung sila completo, kami dili, dapat mopasar mi ani nga exam. Lord, buhaton nako tanan makaya nako bsan I know naay uban information nawala sa ako tungod sa trauma. Para ni sa akong mga classmates na victim sa flash floods”. The exam went well, I know it’s difficult but that’s all I can give. I offered everything to the Lord. I am still hoping and optimistic that I can make it.
I am Mark Lito O. Polgarinas. I am one of the surviors. and this is my story.

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