Even as typhoon Ondoy pounded Metro Manila, netizens in various municipalities were posting shocking photos, videos, and reports of people trapped in the floods, rivers bursting their banks, and houses going under. Mild fear quickly turned to disbelief as the water levels in normally flood-free areas steadily rose and submerged cars and buses. In UERM, Camille Magno captured a surreal scene of drivers scrambling on top of cars being tossed about by the flood. Facebook user Kathy Zablan compiled photos of different areas affected by the flood. Most of the images are of familiar places that are almost unrecognizable for being submerged in flood water.
After the sun came out, even more announcements made the rounds of popular social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. These were mostly calls for volunteers and donations to the relief efforts, with listings of organizations and individuals dealing with the massive task of routing help to the victims of Ondoy. Other photos and videos made clear the extent of the devastation—cars piled on top of each other, mud-covered living rooms, and scenes of men carrying makeshift stretchers with lifeless limbs dangling from them. Yet other posts told stories of rescue missions and ongoing calls for help—one plaintive status update read, “Please, please, let it not rain anymore. I have to go find my best friend who I have not heard from since Saturday. Please wish me luck… Marikina, here I come.”
Throughout the threads of despair, shining examples of selflessness stood out, reminding us that bayanihan is alive and well in our communities. There’s the story of the 18-year old construction worker who saved 30 lives but lost his own; his last act of heroism was saving a 6 month old baby and her mother from the raging floodwaters. There’s the story of the jet-skiing judge who rescued scores of people in his village. There are the real-life scenes of chivalry and daring starring Gerald Anderson, who braved neck-high waters to make sure his neighbors were safe; Jericho Rosales, who charged the flood with his surfboard; and Richard Gutierrez, who rescued Cristine Reyes and her family off the roof of their Provident Village home.