Praying to the Heavens
The sound of rain used to be a source of comfort for me. I would lay in bed, bundled up in sheets, book in hand while listening to the steady drumming on the roof.
Today, I drove away from our office in Marikina, my top damp with sweat and rain as I carried boxes of Woven products up tables and shelves. I had also packed and transferred the most precious cargo - embroidered family mats and a giant customized mat - to the back of my car. I’ve learned the hard way that typhoons are not to be taken lightly, even those that are not categorized super typhoons. During Ulysses, we were caught by surprise when the streets of Marikina were flooded - ours included - and submerged boxes of laptop sleeves and banig mats in dirty water.
For us at Woven, both the Manila team and our partner artisans, the climate crisis is firmly embedded in our story. We started after Super typhoon Yolanda and we have since dealt with a few major typhoons that have either flooded the homes of our partners or our office here in Manila. It is a constant threat and risk that we have to be prepared for. And while we here in the city have the option to move, many aren’t so privileged as to act on that option.
So why do I choose to tell this on #WovenWednesdays? As I drove in the rain berating myself about how I should have placed our products in plastic before putting them in containers, I recalled the interviews we did with people in Samar after Yolanda. About how the sound of rain afterwards made them flinch and pray to the heavens. How a man climbed up a coconut tree and stayed there for three days out of fear. About the clean-up that came after and how they found bodies among the debris.
This is not to drive you into despair. Because what came after were the stories of hope - moments of generosity, kindness, and bayanihan. Stories of friends giving more than they can give, strangers messaging with their support and care, weavers extending their gratitude.
But when the rains pour and alerts of the water levels rising come, I can’t help but feel anxiety for what will come next. And it is a fear felt in greater magnitude by those living in more vulnerable areas. To anyone who still doesn’t believe in the climate crisis, I urge you to think more deeply and open your eyes to the natural disasters experienced by people all over the world.
Just yesterday, we awoke to posts and messages from Samar about strong rains that came without warning in the night. Signal number 3 was raised. They were evacuated as the storm battered on, causing some of their houses to flood.
“Kamusta?” is the first thing we ask. A mother posted photos of the knee-deep murky waters in her home. One of the embroiderers shared a status on Facebook: “Lord, tama na.” Our head sewer assured us that they have gone back home from the evacuation center and they are OK, but there was no electricity. “Mabuti na lang naipadala ko yung mga product nang maaga.” (It’s a good thing I was able to send the products.)
I agree with her, but the continuous rains make me doubt the safety of our office.
“Ingat kayo diyan,” her messages continue. “May kasunod na naman kasi na bagyo, mas malakas pag hindi nagbago ang track baka Luzon naman dadaan..” (Take care. There is news of another typhoon that is said to be stronger and will pass Luzon.)
Driving home in the outpour, having placed all our things on higher ground, I say a silent prayer wishing for silence, for the typhoon to spare us.