When power was restored in our area on Tuesday, and after the announcements that classes would remain suspended until Saturday, one of the first instructions that I gave my daughters was to collect clothes and blankets that they could spare so we could bring them to the evacuation centers. Since we were on our way to the supermarket, I was thinking of buying additional canned goods and instant noodles that we could donate as well. But all of that was easier said than done. Cash and food turned out to be scarce.
On the way to the supermarket, we passed by the bank – two different banks, actually – to withdraw cash. ATM machines were down. The bank branches were closed because they, too, got submerged in floods over the weekend. I was down to my last forty pesos.
When we reached Cherry Supermarket (we had to take the long round-about way via Cogeo because Sumulong Highway is still closed due to landslides), we saw the crowds and Speedy said it looked like people were buying in panic mode. The first thing I did was to ask if they would accept credit cards. Yes, they would. Great, I thought. At least, we could replenish our food supply at home. See, almost everything in the fridge went bad. We had to throw out the contents of the freezer and most of those in the lower compartments. What a waste, really, but that’s what happens when power is out for three days and you’re trapped because there’s no way in or out of your area because surrounding portions of Antipolo were flooded.
Having been assured that I could purchase using my credit card, I got a cart and went directly to the meat and chicken section. They were almost empty. Just bits and pieces of discolored meat and grayish chicken wings that I’d be too scared to feed my family. I must have stood there for several minutes — stunned — wondering what happened and what to do next.
I went to the frozen fish section, got enough bangus fillets for a couple of meals then went to the vegetable section. More empty shelves. No onions, no potatoes, not even ginger. I must have gaped there for a while. There was an attendant stacking some shelves with what looked like newly delivered vegetables. I approached her, I pointed to the vastness of the empty shelves and asked if there had been delivery problems, and she said no. No delivery problems. There were just too many shoppers and they had been buying in bulk for two straight days. People were HOARDING. They were buying by the crate — milk, diapers, canned meat, sardines… and rice by the sack.
I pulled myself together, went from one aisle to another scanning what were available and what were not. No one’s buying turkey and they were on sale. At P200 per kilo that’s cheaper than beef and premium pork cuts. I got a whole 5 kilogram turkey — that should last us for three days or more, I will just need to get creative and come up with several different dishes using the same bird.
Next, canned goods. Speedy loves SPAM — we bought SPAM. Weather news say another storm is coming and SPAM won’t spoil the way meat does. I know that Speedy bought a SPAM cookbook several years ago and I’d have to look for it. Damn it, we’re not going to get defeated and depressed.
Then, bowls of instant noodles. Much as I don’t like them, it wasn’t the time to be choosy. Until we could figure out where to get fresh meat, fish and chicken, we’ll have to live with instant food. I couldn’t go to the public market because I didn’t have cash.
Earlier today, Speedy went out in search of functioning ATM machines. We live in Antipolo. You know where he was able to get cash? Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. He went by way of Marikina and saw the extent of the damage there. All business establishments, including banks, remain closed. We buy dog food by the sack from a pet store in Marikina, the store was closed and empty, and the owners and employees were sweeping the remains of drenched dog food on the driveway. Speedy still looked a little dazed when he got home. The experience was that shocking.
I already expect prices of basic commodities to skyrocket. Not only because until all roads are passable, there would be delivery problems and supply would be short, but also because unscrupulous businessmen will take advantage of a panicky and starving public. Sad but true. And it always happens after a calamity. There will always be assholes. I’m not sure if you’ve heard about the looting in Marikina. People have lost their homes and possessions, and what remain are being looted.
What happens from here… well, everyone’s just trying to get back on his feet. It’ll be harder for some. My family’s among the lucky ones but I can’t say we’re in a celebratory mood right now.