Not once did Cristine Reyes imagine she'd be a flood victim.
In just six hours, typhoon Ondoy (international name: "Ketsana") buried her home under muddy water—and almost every material possesion she acquired after years of hard work vanished.
September 26 is a harrowing day for the 20-year-old actress. Together with her mom, her 18-year-old sister Mina Princess, her two pamangkins, and some neighbors—they got stranded on the rooftop of their house in Provident Village, Marikina City. With nowhere to go, they endured 12 hours of hunger, panic, and horrible fear.
But instead of sulking or lamenting, she woke up early the following day to start picking up the pieces. And on top of her to-do list was to forget the entire ordeal.
"Marami pong naglalaro sa utak ko nun," Cristine said this afternoon, September 30, during her thanksgiving presscon held at Kaboom Griller on Timog Avenue, Quezon City. "Kung maliligtas ba kami, kung katapusan na ba namin 'to—maraming naglalaro sa utak ko noon, e. Tahimik lang ako, pero ang dami kong naiisip."
The flood began invading their area at around noon. In less than an hour, it reached the second level of their house. Cristine and her family were left with no choice but to climb to their roof.
"Inuna ko muna mommy ko, dalawa kong pamangkin, 'saka yung special child kong kapatid dahil sila yung hindi marunong mag-swimming. Ako naman, nung umakyat ako sa roof, may kasabay akong daga. 'Tapos may naka-angkas sa 'kin na mga ipis. Wala, dedma na kasi akyat na 'ko nun, e, dun ko na lang pinagpag," Cristine said.
Cristine also related a scenario involving her neighbors which she witnessed from the roof of her house. She said it was even more traumatic.
"Meron dung isang mama, may hawak siyang isang kahoy 'tapos binubutas na niya yung yero para siguro ma-save yung tao na nandun sa loob. 'Tapos, takot na takot ako dun sa kabilang bahay namin—may sigaw nang sigaw. Mga babae kasi yung mga kapitbahay namin dun, e, so parang sabi ko, ano na'ng nangyayari dun?
"E, kung ako naman pupunta dun, baka ako din naman ang mangailangan ng tulong. So parang sinabi ko sa driver ko, tulungan mo nga yung kapitbahay, tingnan mo nga yung kalagayan nila dun kasi sigaw sila nang sigaw. 'Tapos meron sa kabilang street, sinisira yung grills nila," Cristine narrated.
Rescue was nowhere in sight. Crying for help was useless, as the rescue team could not enter their area. Behind Provident Village runs Tumana River, a waterway that becomes infamous year after year due to its knack for sweeping vehicles and people under its depths whenever it overflows its banks.
Thankfully, her cellular phone was spared from the strong typhoon and flash flood. She frantically dialed every number in her phone book.
"Mga kaibigan ko, mga non-showbiz sila lahat, e. Si ate. Hindi ko na naisip, e. Basta makita ko sa cellphone, e," she said.
In the hours of her ordeal, she tearfully called big companies like ABS-CBN, GMA-7, and Viva Entertainment, but not one could send any help. The typhoon was still strong, and any attempt to penetrate the area was still dangerous.
She would also send photos and messages to her showbiz friends, like Maxene Magalona and Bianca King, who could only send her words of consolation.
Richard Gutierrez exerted more effort. He borrowed a speed boat and rescued his Patient X leading lady.
MOVING ON. During the presscon, Cristine never shed a tear. With the help of the people around her, she tried to forget her traumatic experience.
"Siguro dahil sa mga taong nakapaligid sa 'kin, lalung-lalo na mga pamilya ko. Si Chard, family niya. Mga fans. Mga kaibigan ko lalo—sila Maxene, sobrang thank you sa kanila. Lalung-lalo na si Liz Uy, sobrang caring," Cristine said.
Her two cars were soaked and damaged. Her house remains muddy. Her furniture and appliances wrecked. She even has no more clothes to wear.
But her friends readily helped her.
"Sila ate ko, mga kapatid ko, salamat sa kanila. Sina Maxene Magalona, thank you. Yung mga nagbigay sa 'kin ng clothes, kay Liz Uy...Kay Liz Uy nga yung suot ko ngayon. May fan from Uratex na nagpadala ng mattress. Si Bianca King nagpadala ng clothes, maraming salamat sa kanila. Natasha, sponsor ko, Mint nagpadala ng clothes. May mga friends na gustong tumulong in cash," Cristine said in gratitude.
Lastly, Cristine just wants to put everything behind her. She didn't even want to estimate how much wealth she had lost. She does not want to go back to her house in Provident Village. It's just too hard.
"Hindi pa namin napag-uusapan kung anong gagawin namin sa bahay kasi mahirap pa siya tirhan, e. Parang mahirap balikan, kasi kung ngayon nga every minute lagi ko siyang maiisip, parang ayoko nga," she said.
To cope with feelings of despair, work is Cristine's antidote. "Magtrabaho nang magtrabaho," she explained. "Kailangan ko kumayod nang doble kasi marami akong babawiin. Sa ngayon ang plano ko kalimutan na lang yung nangyari. Mas iniisip ko na maka-move on na ko."