Sunday, June 26, 2011

Can I get a Kayak Please!?!?!

Two words can describe the last week of my life... rainy and wet. I can now say that I fully appreciate and understand why the Filipinos describe the months of June-September as "the rainy season." You see, in America there are 4 different seasons, but in the Philippines there are only two... The rainy season and the dry season. Throughout the year, the temperature pretty much stays stagnate at 85 degrees and I am told that the only thing that changes, is the rain. During the rainy months, an average of around 35 cm/month of rain falls, but only around 5 cm/month fall in the dry months... crazy.

After the first 3 or 4 days of the rain, I finally started wondering if it was ever going to stop. I mean, I had experienced some rain and storms before (Hurricane Isabel for all you Richmonders), but rain for 4 straight days!!! That just doesn't happen in the "real" world. So finally gave up on the rain ever stopping and on Thursday afternoon, I went out to an office branch about 20 min away from my apartment because a Filipino friend of mine invited me to come play music with them. I had zero idea what that entailed.

When I get out to the branch it was not raining hard, and I found out that what playing music meant was that I was going to play in the drums for the worship band on Saturday and we were practicing that afternoon. Every Saturday CCT has what they call corporate worship for all the staff at a few different branches across their network. Its a time to come together every Saturday morning for worship, prayer, and teaching. I was super stoked about that because I haven't really played the drums in about 3 years and its something that I have missed. We had a great time practicing as I slowly got the feeling back in the wrists! But what I didn't notice during our practice was that the rain had turned into a torrential downpour for the last 2 to 3 hours.

When we finished practicing around 7, and then realized that the flood waters had begun to flow! The head of the office we were at informed the staff that the water was at about calf level in the street and no Jeepney's were available to get us back to the elevated train station I needed to get to. So after waiting about 45 minutes, rolling up my jeans past my knees, and borrowing some flip flops, opps... i mean slippers, we thought we were going to have to walk to the station... BUT at the last second, one of the CCT trucks showed up and he willingly drove me through the flooded streets to the station, along with around 10 workers from the branch.

After slowing driving through the smaller streets the truck emerged to the main road which was even more flooded than the smaller roads. Traffic was hardly moving at all and people were running every which was through about a foot of water on the sidewalk. Our expert driver delivered us right to the stairs going up to the train (henceforth to be called the LRT). Me and two other Filipino guys scurried inside the mall right next to the station and grabbed some delicious KFC for dinner. After that, we said our goodbyes and I headed up to the LRT.

The LRT station was completely packed with people because neither the Jeepney's nor the tricylces were not running. I pushed and pushed and finally got myself on the train with my face pressed up against the glass because we were so tightly packed (this is actually pretty common on the LRT, not just on rainy days). After a 5 min ride I got off at my stop, not quite sure what to expect. Keep in mind that the hurricane like rain was still coming down, the wind was blowing around 30 mph, I was wearing borrowed flip flops, and my computer and leather shoes were packed tightly into my backpack.

I walked down the stairs and found myself on the sidewalk in knee deep water!!! The entire street that my apartment complex is on was flooded up to my knees, which consequently means it was sadly up to many Filipino's waists. As I slowly began walking to the street corner that I had to cross, I began to ponder what would happen if I stepped on an uncovered man hole. Way #3 that I could die in the Philippines... fall into an uncovered manhole during a flood and drown to death (#1 was a car crash while riding a tricycle, #2 was being smashed to death by the Philippines excessively responsive elevator doors). As I crossed the intersection the water went considerably up my thighs right to the edge of the phone that was in my right pocket.

Probably the most humorous part of this evening for me was when the buses drove by the intersection. Because the water was so deep, whenever the bus would drive in the water a huge wave would make its way towards the sidewalks, followed by a REALLY loud scream from all the Filipino women. It was pretty hilarious considering the wave was like 5 inches high and the women were already soaking wet from the rain. I crossed the intersection with a Moses crossing the Red Sea esque confidence (it was basically this in downtown Manila), hopeful that the road to my apartment (about 2 blocks away) would somehow be less flooded. I was wrong.

My street was even more flooded! The entire road and sidewalk was well up to my jean pockets, but there were also a lot of stairs leading up to different stores and high rises, so using my expert navigating skills I was able to lower my risk of falling in an uncovered man hole. After about 10 min of walking 2 blocks down the road I successfully arrived at my apartment complex, victory!!! Of course, I was 30 min. late to a Skype I had set up with some of the other interns for HOPE in Pennsylvania and Ukraine. But after I told my epic Indiana Jones like story, they understood (I think).

The biggest surprise about the whole week of rain and floods was how quickly the rain subsided. The next morning there was no evidence that the street had been flooded more than 2 feet the night before. The rain finally stopped on Saturday and the sun felt oh so glorious. I will never, ever, ever again be upset because of hot weather.

The weekend as a whole was pretty relaxing. My world debut on the drums on Saturday was great fun and very refreshing. I forgot how much I loved playing with other musicians. I had another little brief cultural experience on Sunday afternoon. After going a catching a movie after church, I wandered past Rizal Park to see if anything was happening. Much to my surprise, around 40,000 people (I kid you not) were gathered at the park with music blaring and a huge stage was set up right in front of the statue of Lapu Lapu. It turns out that this enormous gathering was the 30th anniversary celebration of a Catholic organization called Couples for Christ. Different CFC groups from around the country all came together for a big celebration.

They were basically having this enormous parade that never ended! I literally went out of my way through the crowd and tried to find the end of the line/march/parade thingy and I could not find it. Crazy. But anyway, it was fun to be around that many people and to just sit and watch and listen. Love experiencing little Filipino events like that. And don't worry, I have pictures of the never ending line in all its glory.

Hope all is well back in the states. Everyone eat an extra hamburger for me on July 4th!!! (still haven't found a good one here) Me and my American friend are trying to find a grill so we can show the Filipinos some true America culture... Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, fireworks, and s'mores!!!

In Christ,

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" -Psalm 8:3-4

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