No more typhoon Ondoy details as the internet is flooded with them already. Pun intended.
On tv, in the internet, in social networks, one will find videos and pictures of tsunami-like floods leaving behind wrecks, harm, even death. In some videos and pictures one will find Filipinos stranded on rooftops smiling or waving at the camera while water continues to inch up to them; guys laughing despite hanging on to the top of the trees or electric lines for their lives; children swimming in the floods looked like they were frolicking in some fancy beach resort. Previously, I would wonder at this seemingly ignorant and insensitive disregard for such dire conditions. But as someone with family and friends who have experienced the typhoon’s wrath first hand, I began to understand how they could still smile and find humor amid devastation.
As Ondoy went on a rampage in Manila, I was stuck at work with some pals and we were fortunate to have been provided with first class meals and lodging at a 5 star hotel by our office. I would have instantly traded places with someone else though, if it meant being with my family swimming through the neck-deep muddy waters that accumulated inside our house, trying to save the pets and the furniture. I know my colleagues would rather be with their own families as well. We felt useless and resigned to the situation as we watched the wreckage on tv in the comforts of our hotel room, receiving news of our families who did not fare as well as we did through text messages and choppy phone calls. All we could do was “grin and bear with it all” – make feeble jokes, find some humor and absurdity in cartoonish thoughts about our refrigerator floating around or oven bobbling up and down the water-filled ground floor of our home like some clumsy water craft.
A friend waded through chest-deep flood from the airport to her home, dragging along two suitcases filled with clothes. She still had the ability to laugh it off afterwards.
An acquaintance’s daughter posted a video online of her jeep being overturned by the gushing flood and had even made some funny comments about it.
Many other friends recounted their harrowing experiences and even had the cheekiness to make fun of their situations.
Hubby sounded like he was having fun when he told me about the waterfalls that formed inside our house!
No, laughing and joking during such times do not indicate ignorance, apathy or refusal to accept reality. For most of us, it is merely useless to worry. Instead of drowning (pun intended again) in self pity, they are fond of self-deprecating thoughts and of seeing even the direst of circumstances in a ludicrous light, using humor to get themselves through suffering; to forget their misfortunes even for just a moment; to find strength to hold on to even the faintest glimmer of hope; to accept whatever fate awaits.
I am amazed by the courage, resilience, and of course humor of my friends, families, and the rest of the Filipinos in the face of such adversity and I am proud of them, of us all.