(made during last month, when i was stuck at home because of the flood)
7:00 am –
After being lulled to a delicious slumber by the thunderstorms last night, i found myself rudely awakened several hours later by the howling winds throwing coconut fruits at our roof. Immediately, I looked out of my bedroom window (on the second floor) and was only slightly surprised to see that our house in Malabon had, once again, become a fortress of sorts, surrounded by a 3-feet water moat on all sides.
The flood was probably an effect of Typhoon whats-her-name’s fury. If there wasn’t any storm to credit the flood to, then it can only be two other things – 1.) its “high tide” or 2.) some street (but not ours) had been raised, and thus the stagnant floodwater, some dating back to the Crusades, came rushing in to lower-levelled streets. Yup, its another not-so-typical day in my hometown of Malabon, whose greatest claim to fame was forever being the focus of the news crew chopper whenever a news program wants to get prime footage of people suffering because of the flood.
Except here, no one suffers or really gets pissed by the excess amount of undrinkable water. The flood had always been there even before the first “pancit malabon” store opened. For the Malabonians, the flood had been a part of their lives. Its there but it has no real use, like the appendix or the vice-president.
One time, i asked Ayn to come over so she can see how i lived. Apart from developing a deeper understanding about the conditions of my people, i also just wanted her to see why I was always late on our dates.
First, i took her to see the Concepcion Bridge, which connected our humble town of “Niugan” (Literally “coconut grove.” Walking down the streets here is always a thrill, as you’ll never know when a coconut might fall and bonk you in the head) to the town of “Bayan.” (or, in english, it means “town.” I imagined the founders of this city didn’t have time to come up with more creative names, as they were too busy trying to salvage their things from the flood.)
Standing atop the bridge, Ayn was suprised to see how close the water was, about an armslength away if you kneeled down. (Her exact words were “whoa, nag bridge ka pa, ” in a deadpan voice) Not far from us was a house, or part of it. Only the rooftop can be seen. I guess the owners didnt have the foresight to build a second floor.
Next, we went to Pilapil, which is a group of shanties built on top of water, supported by bamboo platforms. Pilapil is the oddest, most surreal village i have seen in my life, like it was taken diretly from the movie LOTR or Waterworld. It lies in the middle of the river, surrounded by a very modern subdivision peppered with lavish looking houses. It was really out of place, like an agricultural village in the middle of the metropolis.
Unwittingly, touring my gf through my hometown/province made me remember why I always preferred to go back home to Malabon instead of going to our apartment in makati, which is closer and doesnt require a boat to get around.
Apart from my attachment to the people residing in our malabon house (the maids, their kids, my lolo and lola, the chickens in our backyard, etc), there are a lot of colorful scenes here in our neighborhood that ties me to this place – kids playing in the flood and catching pet fishes, tambays playing billiards in waist deep flood, barbershops and other establishments being open for business despite the water inside their shop, and jetskis blazing through the streets without an SUV in sight.
These picturesque scenes are what drives me to come home, wade through the flood and feel that, despite the exhaustion, everything is worth having a home to return to.
Of course, i also like coming home to a house this far south since it makes all my problems (rooted on UST) seem so distant. My malabon fortress acts as a santuary; and i even that the flood surrounding our house prevents my worries from getting in.
That is, unless they have a jetskis.