The Great Flood, Part 3

In September 26, 2009, my housemate Mary and I were flooded out of our home in the subdivision of Xavierville I, Quezon City in Metro Manila. Now, a little over a year later, a typhoon has just struck the Philippines, but at least 200 miles to the north. I’m high and dry in my second-floor study in Xavierville II, which was not flooded last year. Still I’m monitoring Typhoon Megi—called Juan locally—and empathizing with its victims in Baguio.

When I was in the States this summer, I went to an outdoor theater with some friends. Right before intermission, the … Read More

The Great Flood, Part 2

Being in a flood can change your entire relationship to water: you hesitate around puddles, you shriek when accidentally splashing water on yourself, you hear the sound of rushing water in your sleep, you get anxious when it rains—which is unfortunate during rainy season. Mary still has flashbacks of calling my name and hearing only rushing water, while I remember going out the gate first and yelling repeatedly, “Come on, Mary. We have to get out!”

Then there’s the flood mud. We had the thin, slimy stuff that can be washed off with a hose and scrub brushes, not the … Read More

The Great Flood, Part 1

Until September 26, Xavierville 1 was a tranquil, middle-class subdivision, or gated community, in Quezon City, Metro Manila. It was a safe place of medium-sized and large houses, each house behind its own gate. There were coconut palms, bougainvillea climbing over walls and lush tropical foliage. Some houses were well tended, some streaked with the dark mold found in the tropics. Probably every household had domestic help—maybe two maids and a driver who also helped out with the gardening—but unlike the posh neighborhoods there was a community pool, not a private pool outside every living room. Apart from mild concern … Read More