I am a big fan of anything horror. And although I personally don’t consider it a horror TV series, I still am obsessed with The Walking Dead. To me, it’s more like a serial drama. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s about a group of people struggling to survive after a zombie apocalypse. But if you do have been following this TV series for a while, you probably have already figured out that the main threat of this show is not the zombies, but fellow humans who have survived as well. I was so into this show but what I didn’t know was that I was going to have my own TWD-like experience.
Several days before Typhoon Haiyan ravaged our city, there were several posts on Facebook about it being the strongest typhoon in the world this year. Of course we (me and my friends) were a bit scared, but we thought it was something we Taclobanons could handle. After all, we come across a lot of typhoons every year. We even went to the cinema to watch a movie the night before. There was only a light drizzle when we stepped outside. It was literally the calm before the storm. We didn’t know our lives were about to change the very next day.
I woke up at 4 am that day because the electricity was shut off, so I opened my windows and enjoyed the strong wind coming in. But then it got worse, and suddenly my stepmom was banging on my door screaming that our second floor was flooded due to the rainwater coming in from the balcony. I scrambled to get up and helped everyone. The rain and wind were so strong that it sounded like a woman screaming. After an hour or two when it seemed to calm down a bit, my stepmother and I stood on the balcony, trying to examine the damage in our home. The ceiling on the balcony collapsed, as well as the ceiling in her bedroom. The roof gutters were torn apart, and was now swaying along with the wind. My stepmother was in tears as she had no idea where to get the money for repairs as we have been strapped for cash ever since my dad died. I told her to look at the brighter side of things, that we were lucky that the roof did not come off and that we still had a place to live. Turns out, we had no idea how extremely lucky we were. Later that night, our neighbors told us what happened in the downtown area when the typhoon struck. They told us about the storm surge that filled up the entire first level of the hotel they were staying in. They told us how they had to walk back home since their car was washed away. They told us that everything was destroyed and that a lot of people died.
The next day, we decided to check it out for ourselves. We walked for about a mile or two from our house to the city. I was fighting back tears when we saw the damage. Cars were flipped over, we saw a lot of dead animals and there were endless piles of debris. My niece could’ve sworn she saw a dead body underneath one of those piles. We saw a lot of people looting and one of us even wanted to go inside one of those department stores to see what she could grab but the rest of us decided against it for safety reasons. We all went home exhausted and sad.
We were lucky enough not to experience being flooded by the storm surge, but we weren’t spared by the aftermath of the typhoon. We experienced a lot of things in common with the characters of my favorite TV show. It’s as if we were also trying to survive a post-apocalyptic world. We were running out of food, so my stepmom’s 19 year old nieces, my brother and the rest of the neighborhood boys bravely hiked to the nearest warehouse where canned goods were stored and took as much as they could carry just like what the rest of the survivors did.
When we ran out of the drinking water we stored, we collected rain water and then we boiled and strained them so we could have safe water to drink. A few days after the typhoon, rumors spread that some bad and desperate people were going to try and steal from other people’s houses. They also said some were even killing and raping women before stealing their food. The neighborhood boys stayed up all night armed with sticks and knives and being the paranoid person that I am, I slept on the balcony so I could hear if everything goes down. I also slept with a knife under my pillow. Sure enough, we heard gunshots from both the thieves and the military that very night. At that time, we were living in fear and hopelessness. I even urged my stepmom that we move back to her hometown in Pampanga for a while but she said she wasn’t going to leave the house.
Fortunately, unlike my favorite show The Walking Dead, a few weeks after that fateful day, everything was a little bit better. Public transportation was back, more military men were assigned to different parts of the city to ensure peace, and some establishments started opening their businesses again. It took a lot longer to bring everything back to normal especially to those victims who lost their loved ones but with the help of a lot of organizations, especially the NGOs, we are now trying to get back on our feet and recover from the most harrowing experience we have all encountered. I guess, this is one of those times where reality is actually even better than what we see on TV.