The Day I Almost Died

Seeing the news reports regarding the recent calamity that struck Iligan and Cagayan de Oro reminded me my most unforgettable life event.  It reminded me of the day that I survived.

We were playing under the rain that morning outside our house in Ormoc City.  It was the 5th of November 1991.  Me, my Ate Candy and my younger sister, Honey.  We were all smiles because class was cancelled due to Typhoon Uring.  As usual, we took a nap while our yaya prepared our lunch.

When woke up about an hour later and our slippers were already floating almost reaching the top part of the bed. We frantically scrambled out of our bedroom.  Outside, our yaya was already crying and panicking. Good thing Ate Candy had presence of mind, she was only 9 years old then. She guided us to the door which leads to the second floor of our ancestral house but it was locked and the water level was rising quickly. Ate had to leave  me and my younger sister on top of our kitchen table while she tried to break open the locks to keep us above the water. I was 4 years old and my younger sister, 2 years old.

Ate Candy finally managed to open the door leading to the second floor. She took my younger sister up and then came back for me. When she came to take me, the table was already floating and the water was around her neck already. She desperately tried to swim. Our yaya was in total shock that time. All she did was cry upstairs. We were able to go upstairs right on time. Relieved that we were on higher ground we looked at the window.

I remember the sight of people being taken away by the strong water current.  Lots of them crying for help but all I could do was watch them pass by as the waters engulf them. Our neighbors broke some of the windows of our house trying to find a place where they can be safe.

None of our parents were at home. It was only late that night, when my mom came from work from the geothermal power plant that she had learned of what had happened. Half of the house was covered in mud. Everything she saved up for was gone. We were left with a house submerged in mud. The only clothes we had were the ones we were wearing.

For days, we had to walk across the mud to get water. My sisters and I would run everytime we saw Red Cross truck. We knew they were bringing food, clothes and other relief goods.  I remember how I smiled with the sight of even a simple pack of noodles. We would sleep for nights inside a house with no real walls. I would fall asleep to the sound of the dump trucks. From day to night, I would see countless of bloated bodies stacked up like garbage as they were being taken by trucks. They even recovered six dead bodies within our land, one was even found right near our staircase. Who could ever forget the stench that we had to bear with?

I saw death in my young eyes.  We knew how it was to lose everything in just a matter of minutes.  We learned how to be thankful at an early age. For we have lost all our material possessions but our lives were spared.

I know how it is to be a victim. I was very young then but that very event taught me to value life and how important helping out is.

It was the deadliest typhoon that hit Philippines leaving roughly 8,000 dead.

Somehow I am thankful for social media and for mobile communications now, how I wish we had it on that faithful day.

Helping now is a lot easier. No excuse to not show love to our fellow Filipinos.

I survived and our city did too. With the help from others we were able to recover fast. Let’s do our best to help the recent victims too.  Volunteer. Donate. Care.


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About Paula Bernasor

Geeky, techie and non-conforming Filipina digital nomad in mermaid costume who loves geeky stuff, sustainable adventures and community empowerment.