30 Minutes and a World Apart

The Ucab Landslide - New Naratif

The Philippines is no stranger to typhoons, but Typhoon Mangkhut, known locally as Ompong, was the strongest tropical cyclone to enter the Philippines this year. In fact, Mangkhut was the strongest typhoon in the world this year, only slightly weaker than Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the city of Tacloban in Eastern Visayas in 2013.

Before Mangkhut made landfall, my mother and I followed weather updates, stocked up on food and braced for the storm. In a nation like the Philippines, which constantly gets battered by typhoons during the monsoon season, one learns how to live with the dangers that a tropical storm can bring. We comforted ourselves with memories of past storms, telling ourselves that we’d previously survived flooded streets and power outages left in their wake.

We were also better placed to weather Mangkhut than many others. We had a sturdy house, built by my Lolo (grandfather) Andoy after he moved to Baguio from the Ilocos Region in northwestern Luzon. The city was booming, partly thanks to the gold being extracted from the mountains surrounding it. My grandfather didn’t work in the mines; he first drove a jeepney, then a taxi. Reaping the many benefits of a flourishing economy, he eventually went on to own a fleet of taxis and sent all his daughters to university. My grandfather’s good fortune meant that my family has since been far removed from poverty.

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