If you haven't had the chance to bug me these last few days, you're probably not aware of what happened in my slice of land (or air, as the case may be). My friend Diana says what I experienced was only a taste of what's happening in the evacuation centers all over the region. I suppose a taste is all one needs to have a change in perspective.
Twenty-nine floors up is where I live, and for four days our family had no water and no elevator. (On Sunday there was no light in the stairwell. Which made Isis say that Resident Evil has finally come to us.) My mom had recently been diagnosed of osteoporosis so there was no convincing her to go down a dark stairwell. (Eventually succeeded getting her to come down by saying it was Sunday and people had to go to mass. Padded the reason with "We have to buy extra drinking/washing water or else," "There's water in the Eastwood mall ladies room; let's brush our teeth," and "We have to EAT.") Four days into the exercise, my mom has made friends with nearly everybody we bump into going up or coming down; she takes so much delight in shocking people about having to go all the way up to the 29th floor.
I learned to bathe using one tumbler of water, soap and a face towel. Knowing how hard it is to carry the water all the way up makes taking a bath with so little a less painful experience. My dad insists his discovery of freshening up with alcohol is the more antiseptic way to go about personal hygiene. I maintain that alcohol with water rubbed furiously on the skin is poisonous. Thank God the situation didn't last long enough to prove one of us right.
Because life goes on, I couldn't leave my work undone. So, I learned to squeeze everything in the morning (before going down for more water and other errands that we manage to remember to do). Can you imagine finding yourself, with your shins throbbing, on the first floor of the building, grinding your teeth to powder because you have gone down to get water but have just belatedly realized that you'd forgotten to bring the bottle? (Insert Luke Skywalker's response to Darth Vader's "Luke, I am your father.") I couldn't leave the house without putting my hand in all my pockets more than once. It's silly; but it's serious business.
Then there's the bringing up of two huge grocery bags filled with bottled water. I told a friend that if I had died carrying that load up 29 floors, I would've been the poster child for "Maraming namamatay sa maling akala." I really thought my parents left all that water in the lobby for me to carry (I was the only one left downstairs that day); so I flexed my muscles and carried them. When I got up, my mom said she had left the water there for a janitor to carry because my dad isn't young and sprightly enough to carry that weight all the way up. Now my mom calls me superwoman.
When the going gets tough, people learn that they're stronger than they first thought. There's even a lot more strength left over to think of other people. Come to think of it, I guess I wouldn't have survived that solo climb (I keep forgetting I had my laptop with me too!) had I not made all those stops every 2 or 3 floors. And in those stops, I thought about how little my exhaustion was compared to that big event at Calvary... how little it really is, compared!
The best weapons in tough times can only be prayer and a cheerful disposition. Energy, too, but most of that already comes with prayer. A rosary always does the trick... but when you don't have one at the moment, there's offering up one's muscle aches, blue fingers, waterfall sweat and heavy breathing as prayer. And, upon reaching the top, prayer doesn't really end... after that sweet drink of cold water (which by now you have every right to drink), one must not forget to say the famous magic words: "Thank you!"