Commuter Diaries: Survive the Manila baha with these 10 essentials

I came to Manila a few years ago for my university studies. As a probinsyana from the far north, one thing that scared me the most was flash floods. I study in España, the road infamous for flooding even with just the tiniest bit of rain. It’s such an established fact that my school even gave us flood kits on our first day! True enough, within a month or two of starting college, the road outside our campus began to flood even before I realized it was raining. That Thursday will forever be etched in my memory, and I’ve never left home without my flood kit since then.

Floods are a reality we have to deal with every time the rainy season comes in but we can definitely take precautions against looking like a basang sisiw. Project Vanity has tips for waterproofing your makeup, and even how to smell good despite being rained on. Now make sure you’re also prepared to “go swimming” (ick) with your own flood kit!

Your umbrella is obviously the most important part of your kit. Even on sunny days, you can use it to help your skin protected against damaging UV rays. Get a sturdy, foldable design so you can easily slip it into your bag (and avoid forgetting to bring it along as what often happens with bigger umbrellas!) You may also opt to pack a raincoat or waterproof jacket in case the weather is both windy and rainy.

Wading through flood waters is gross and puts you at a risk for disease. Rain boots would have been a great idea but honestly, the flood waters on España get high enough to enter knee-high boots! A pair of sturdy thong slippers is better for getting you across and around the floods, plus they’re light enough to carry around when you don’t need them.

It might sound weird but rubbing lotion on your skin before attempting to pass a flooded area. An oil-based lotion helps repel the water and prevent it from penetrating into your skin. The cool weather can also be a bit drying, so this is a good way to keep your skin both moisturized and protected.

After braving the flood waters, you’ll want to sanitize everything with alcohol and wipe the wetness off with tissue. Wet wipes are also useful for cleaning up after, but since some don’t contain alcohol, it’s a good idea to still apply that separately and get rid of any bacteria.

If you have any open wounds, DO NOT even think to go near the filthy flood waters as you risk giving yourself a bad infection. But if you do get cuts while in the water - yes, it happened to me - be prepared with a disinfectant like Betadine and bandages to treat the wounds immediately. You may also want to check with your doctor if you need to take doxycycline to protect you from water-borne diseases.

You never know when and where you’ll be stuck during a flood. Whether on foot or in vehicular traffic, it can take a while for you to get to where you’re headed. Pack some snacks and water to sustain you while stranded.

I hate it when taxis and tricycles charge double to triple the usual price to ferry you across the flood, but sometimes it’s better than getting stranded indefinitely. Keep extra cash on you for a literal rainy day, when it can mean the difference between getting home faster and being stuck.

I don’t know what changes have to be made to our infrastructures to stop the problem of flooding, but it’s important to do our part and avoid littering so flood drains don’t get clogged. Until then, keeps these baha essentials in your bag so you can be ready anytime, anywhere!

Have you ever been caught in a really bad flood? What other items would you include in your kit?