Ria Atayde recalls how she survived Typhoon Ondoy with brother Arjo: "An hour kami nag-swimming palabas ng village." 

by Rachelle Siazon
Sep 26, 2020
Ria Atayde recalls mom Sylvia Sanchez telling her and brother Arjo that they need to evacuate from their flooded Pasig home by swimming their way to their grandparents' house in Quezon City. She thought at the time, "Is this the end of our lives?"
PHOTO/S: @ria / @arjoatayde Instagram

Hindi malilimutan ni Ria Atayde ang karanasan nila ng nakatatandang kapatid na si Arjo Atayde nang manalasa ang Bagyong Ondoy noong September 26, 2009, o eksaktong 11 taon na ang nakararaan.

Akala raw talaga nila ay katapusan na ng buhay nila dahil ang dati nilang tirahan sa Riverside Village, Pasig City, ang isa sa mga lugar na matinding binaha noong panahong iyon.

Umabot daw sa puntong kinausap sila ng nanay nilang si Sylvia Sanchez kung paano sila lilikas sa kanilang bahay.

Lahad ni Ria: "Sabi ng mom ko nung bumabagyo na, 'Mga anak, huwag kayo matakot. Basta kung magkawalaan tayo, mag-swimming kayo papuntang Corinthian Gardens.'

"Taga-Ever Gotesco kami dati. It's Pasig pa rin, pero towards Cainta Extension na. Ang layo nun from Corinthian Gardens. My grandparents used to live in Corinthian Gardens."

Sa Quezon City matatagpuan ang high-end village na tinukoy ni Ria.

"So kami, parang, 'Oh my god! Is the whole Philippines under water? Is this the end of our lives? Are we gonna die?'"

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Eksklusibong nakapanayam ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) si Ria, isa sa co-hosts ng Chika, BESH!, para sa PEP Exclusives noong August 26.

FAREWELL LETTERS TO FAMILY & FRIENDS

Kuwento ni Ria, takot na takot sila ni Arjo noong gabing nananalasa ang Bagyong Ondoy.

Naisip daw nilang mamaalam na sa lahat ng mahal nila sa buhay sakaling hindi sila makaligtas sa kanilang tirahan.

"So kami ni Arjo, I won't ever forget, naka-emergency light kaming dalawa.

"Alam niyo yung filler notebooks? Tig-isa kami. Lahat ng kaibigan namin, lahat ng pinsan namin, sinusulatan namin. Nag-iiyakan kami habang nagsusulat.

"Sabihin ba naman ng nanay mo galing ka Cainta Extension, 'Mag-swimming papuntang Corinthians. Dun tayo magkita-kita.'

"So, nung gabing yun, pirma-pirma kami diyan."

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ESCAPING THEIR FLOODED VILLAGE

Nalubog sa baha ang buong first floor ng bahay ng pamilya Atayde.

Kinabukasan, September 27, sabay sina Ria at Arjo na lumikas ng kanilang bahay sa Pasig City.

"At first, swimming-swimming. Siguro an hour kami nag-swimming palabas ng village," balik-tanaw pa ni Ria.

Naikukuwento na raw niya ngayon nang kaswal ang karanasan nilang iyon ni Arjo.

Pero ang totoo ay lubha raw silang nag-alala noong Bagyong Ondoy dahil hindi biro ang ginawa nilang paglangoy para makalikas sa kanilang lugar.

Diin niya, "Oy, hindi joke yun, ha. Our village name was Riverside Village. Yung river nasa 11th street lang, 9th street kami.

"So, yung tubig-baha, yung buong first floor namin, wiped out."

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ARJO'S FEAR OF SEA CREATURES

Sa kabila ng bigat ng kanilang pinagdaanan, hindi napigilan ni Ria na matawa nang maalala kung gaano katakot ang kapatid na si Arjo na makaengkuwentro sila ng eel o igat sa tubig-baha.

"Si Arjo, takot sa sea creatures, sa eel. Yung feeling niya, first of all, you can't breathe in water.

"They're so powerful, feeling niya wala siyang kalaban-laban. E, hate niya yun. Yung feeling niya powerless siya," paliwanag ni Ria.

Umabot na raw sila noon sa lugar na mababaw na ang tubig-baha at hindi na kailangang languyin nang biglang mag-panic si Arjo.

"So, anyway, naglalakad kami ni Arjo, 'tapos napigtas yung tsinelas niya.

"E, nararamdaman niya... Kasi fiesta nun sa Pasig, dun sa village na yun, so may mga banners, may string, dumadaan dun sa paa niya.

"So akala niya [sea creature]... Nagpa-panic, 'Ri! Ri! Ri! Get my slipper!'

"Hahahaha! Parang, oh my god! It was such a heavy experience, pero looking back now, it's laughable."

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RESCUED AT MANGGAHAN FLOODWAY

Tandang-tanda rin daw ni Ria na tila naligo sila sa grasa ni Arjo dahil sa nilangoy nila.

Paglalarawan niya sa hitsura nilang magkapatid, "Yung village namin nun, may factory ng noodles or something. Basta ang daming grasa.

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"So yung suot ko na may yellow and white line, naging black lahat. As in!"

Matiwasay na nakarating sina Ria at Arjo sa bandang Manggahan Floodway sa Pasig.

Lahad ni Ria, "Sinundo nila kami sa may Floodway. I remember when I saw our family, grabe yung iyak namin. Oh my god, we made it!

"Nag-tetanus shot kami as soon as we got to my grandparents' house."

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Isa lamang daw iyon sa mga hindi malilimutang karanasan ng magkapatid na Ria at Arjo.

Kaya marahil ganoon na lang din kalapit sa isa't isa ang magkapatid.

Si Arjo ay 29 taong gulang, habang 28 naman ang edad ni Ria.

SIBLINGS LOVE

Walang palya si Arjo sa paghayag ng pagmamahal kay Ria, tulad nang magdiwang ang Chika, BESH! host ng kanyang 28th birthday noong Marso.

Paglalarawan ni Arjo sa nakababatang kapatid na si Ria: "Words are not enough to express how much I love this woman.

"We have this connection that only she can understand every single thing I do and how I think.

"With her, I can be as weird as I can and know that I'm not judged, and for that I am truly blessed to have her in my life.

"To the brains to my brawns, to my forever bestfriend, to my defendant, to my spelling teacher... I love you wi! Happy Birthday

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"Your white brother is proud of all your accomplishments. Remember what I always tell you, I got you."

Watch full interview of Ria Atayde on PEP Exclusives here:

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Ria Atayde recalls mom Sylvia Sanchez telling her and brother Arjo that they need to evacuate from their flooded Pasig home by swimming their way to their grandparents' house in Quezon City. She thought at the time, "Is this the end of our lives?"
PHOTO/S: @ria / @arjoatayde Instagram
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