It seemed like a normal afternoon: merienda was served on the bamboo deck and the students still came to read. School was not canceled for the bigger kids; there was still no sign of rain, at least not yet. There were waves to surf but I stayed there, glued on the shore that was about to witness another transformation. I thought about how the beach would look tomorrow: what would remain, what would get swept away. Throughout the day, my phone kept receiving messages saying we should move to higher ground. Emergency numbers were shared. Storm signals were elevated every hour. We're ready for when the power goes out. We have a good amount of drinking water. We seem safe in our homes, even now that is nighttime, and it has begun. We are approaching the dreaded hour of landfall, and there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it. We're looking at the weather forecast: this right now is its tail; in an hour, we'll feel the eye. I can hear the waves from every room of the house. When I listen closer, I hear the jumbled prayers of neighbors and relatives from far away. We pray for the mountain ranges to protect us. For the first time in a long time, many of us pray.
We didn't hurry to surf. There were branches to carry and leaves to sweep. Our entire street was filled with the bristling sound of brooms and the creaking of the old rusty poso where neighbors fetched water, as faucets in homes remained dry. It was all so ordinary that it was amazing. It's not so bad this year, they say. We'll be done before lunch.
These are the strange binds of seaside living. Year after year, we face storm after storm. We pit our luck against the damage; we wager our fate like dice play. And yet we don't leave. We don't even budge a little. It makes me wonder: when one can risk life just like that, there must be a reward.
Today, it was this.