Beautiful Singapura

A beautiful view of Singapore from Singapore Flyer.

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Provident my Home

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Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably know where and what Provident is. Provident Villages has become the poster child for flooding and disaster. These days you can’t turn on the TV without a piece about the “lubog na subdivision”. So why do the Villagers stay?

We chose to stay in Provident because of the wide acacia-lined streets, the sense of community and that feeling that I cannot describe that makes you sigh when you plop on your bed, that feeling of home. Four generations of our family have lived in Provident so flooding is not new to us. Once every 10 years the village would flood. We would pack up our stuff, hole up in an uncle’s house in QC, wait for the flood waters to go down, and come back days later with boots, gloves, mops, buckets and liters of Lysol. Cleaning was a chore but our eyes would light up if we found a photograph that miraculously survived or a favorite doll that just needed a little cleaning.

The last flood I experienced before I moved to Hong Kong was in 1998. I remember it vividly because as we  were packing the car to leave, Mom was at the computer trying to finish her thesis. Her feet was under 4 inches of water and we were nagging her to finish so we could pack away the computer and turn the fuse box off. There was never a feeling of panic, just a sense of urgency and a maybe a little excitement. And then Ondoy came.

I was already living in Hong Kong when Ondoy happened in 2009. Ondoy was not the friendly flood that gave you enough time to pack and finish your thesis. Oh no, Ondoy was sinister. Big water that completely swallowed our house. Ondoy completely devastated us, but we managed to get back on our feet and rebuild our home and our lives. We never said anything back then, but we had this nagging fear. What if it happened again? Without factoring-in climate change we brushed the thought aside thinking that Ondoy was a once-in-lifetime event.

And like a cruel joke, it happened again. Just three, short years after Ondoy… The Flood With No Frikkin’ Name. Ondoy’s demented cousin that decided to stay and now refuses to leave. For more than two days houses in Provident Villages have been marinading in a soup of muddy water. Lord knows what my family will find when they return in a few days. So now the nagging fear is back. Will it happen again? I believe now that it will.

I love Provident and my heart breaks every time I see photos of its flooded streets in the news. But the floods have come twice too often in such a short time that practicality has overtaken my stubbornness to hang on to that place I call home. Sentimentality has taken the back seat as I now think of my family’s safety and peace of mind.

I am actually sad as I write this note because Provident has been good to us. Leaving Provident would mean uprooting our family. It means leaving memories of childhood, of those countless Christmases and Easter egg hunts we had in our grandparents’ expansive garden. So why do we stay? We stay because in our hearts we always hoped that things would be better. We stay because we are thankful that despite the devastation we will always have a place to come home to.

But times are hard and decisions have to be made and sometimes you just have to face reality and move on.

 

 

 

Lamma Winds

I’ve lived on Lamma Island for 3 years and it was only this weekend when I left the comforts of home to go on a mini-hike with my friend, Sheena.

I found out two things:

1. Hong Kong is indeed a beautiful place and there is more to it than tall buildings and shopping centers. It teems with beaches, nature hikes and breathtaking vistas; and

2. I’m so out of shape

73: The Ferry Life

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Living in Lamma Island requires me to take the ferry every time I decide to take a break from paradise. The  scene in the photo above greets me every time I go into town to do some serious shopping and hobnobbing. Isn’t it beautiful? But not long ago this scene was a saving grace to me more than it was a thing of beauty. Because soon as I see the IFC building from the Lamma ferry window, I knew that it would only be a few minutes more until I reached safety and stable ground. You see, I’m famous for my motion sickness. I can hardly go to Baguio without throwing up sometime during the journey. So you can just imagine my hesitation and fear when my husband, my beloved, sweet husband, decided to settle us in Lamma Island.

But since HK was to be one of my many adventures with my husband, I decided to stow away my fears and hop on that ferry to our island paradise. So, after 2 years of hopping in and out of ferries I no longer have to shut my eyes and force myself to sleep every time it leaves the dock. I also no longer stumble and wobble my way off the pier every time I get off a ferry like a drunkard.

Talk about small personal victories.