Words by: Carinna Reyes
There’s a running joke within my family that because I love the water so much, it has decided to follow me everywhere—in the form of a flood. This is because out of the four of us in the family, I’m most likely to be stranded somewhere due to high floods, as it has happened often. In fact, it has happened quite a lot that I’ve developed a sixth sense for it.
Just recently, it happened again. One afternoon as I went home from Katipunan, I had a gut feeling that instead of taking the LRT as I usually do, I should take a grab instead. It was raining the whole day, so it seemed reasonable. But of course, I didn’t listen. My stingy self thought it wasn’t worth the money, and went my usual way, thinking it would cost me less.
Boy, was I wrong.
Even when I stepped out of the station and waited for a jeep, it felt odd that there was barely any passing by. Still, I brushed it aside. When at last, I rode one and paid my fare, that was when the series of mishaps began.
A few minutes after riding the jeep, the rain poured harder than before. After everyone has paid, the driver ~conveniently~ remembered that there was a rising flood (higher than an average person) in front of De Los Santos Medical Center and said he can’t go farther than where we were.
Under the strong winds and rain, I had to walk for a few miles to find shelter. Along with several other passengers and evacuated families from a nearby barangay, I was stranded in a roofed walkway of a condominium from 6 pm to 2 am, just sitting on the dirty floor and wishing for the rain to stop so we could all go home.
(This is a pretty accurate depiction of how I looked like.)
During that time, it seemed as if I caught a glimpse of an apocalypse. I picked up a few things as I witnessed how people behaved differently when put in a desperate situation.
For one, I learned that no one can ever survive alone. If I weren’t lucky enough to sit beside three friendly mothers, I wouldn’t have known that the guard secretly has the key to the locked bathrooms, or I wouldn’t have had a spare cardboard to sit on or have someone look after my seat as I look for something to eat.
For another, I’ve discovered that the greatest hurdle when stranded isn’t hunger, but boredom. And from boredom stems paranoia, anxiety, and panic. Once you let those emotions take over, desperation kicks in. And from this experience, I know now that desperation is the root cause of chaos.
For instance, when I stumbled upon a convenience store, I saw how people hurriedly grabbed food from shelves like it was the literal hunger games. Then, around midnight, when the flood had subsided waist-high, I watched people frantically hail a flatbed truck against the driver’s will, and dangerously jump over its back just so they can ride something to get across the flood.
(It was a little bit like this except the truck didn’t tip over. And they weren’t out to eat brains).
I couldn’t blame them though. At that time, my back was aching from sitting too long, and I felt weary and filthy. Even I was itching to get home, and my resolution to stay calm was wearing off.
But the most important thing I’ve learned is that the saying is true: the early bird may catch the worm, but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese. Those people may have gotten home first, albeit through murky floods and risky means, but it’s because I waited that I was able to get home as safely and dryly as possible.
Around 2 am in the morning, I woke up to see a line of cars that were at last moving again, which meant the flood had become shallow enough to pass through. With a friend I made who was sitting beside me, we decided to walk around and fortunately saw a yellow dump truck with soldiers on it parked on the side of the road. (I know, it sounds sketchy, but I just really wanted to get home. Plus, the soldiers seemed nice and at ease.)
We went up to them and they asked if we needed to get across. We said yes, and they pulled us up into the truck and asked us to hold on, as they gathered more stranded commuters. Once the truck was full, they drove us all the way to the other side of Araneta, and then pulled us down the same way they pulled us up.
After saying my goodbye to my new friend, I walked home, knowing that I should never doubt my instincts again. This experience was one for the books. I mean, not everyone can say they survived being stranded for 8 hours, and that they hitched a ride with a couple of soldiers to get home.
But it isn’t one of the most pleasant things either, so I hope it never happens to you. If it does though, now you’ll know what to do: trust your instinct.
Have you ever had any memorable stranded experiences? Share your story in the comments!