THEY SAY you’re not a genuine Thomasian unless you’re “baptized” by the floodwaters of the Sampaloc area. How they are coping is a matter of acquiring survival skills they’ve somehow mastered through the years.

Take the case of hospital employees who, in a recent flooding episode on campus, filed out of the clinical division building, their feet wrapped in plastic grocery bags. Like trained soldiers, many students do the same, knowing that in UST’s flood-prone neighborhood, it can either be sink or swim during a heavy downpour.

Without hesitation, senior Marketing student Marianne Diaz waded through the murky waters on Lacson Avenue just to get home after her night class in the University.

“I have never been stranded in UST. As much as possible, I go home immediately,” Diaz said.

Thomasians like Diaz had been known to brave through knee-high floods that inundate the University during the rainy season.

The University has become famous for its constant flooding. Local news channels and online dailies make it a point to report floods in UST every time the heavy rain pours down in Sampaloc, Manila.

On social media, many students are on the lookout for announcement of suspension of classes. Numerous photos of students’ flood experiences go viral on the networking sites.

It has even become an “initiation” of sorts for freshmen to experience being flooded or stranded at one point during their stay at UST.

But the flood could never dampen on a student’s will to get home and rest from a day of work and study.

Students now are becoming more and more creative with their methods in avoiding flood, from using wooden planks to get across streets to wrapping plastic bags around their shoes to prevent them from getting soaked in dirty water.

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“Flood or strong rains could never hamper our motivation to go home,” Diaz said.

Fearless against flood

While Diaz plunged into the waters to find her way home, Fine Arts senior Juneemae De Jesus took another route and rode a pedicab with her friends across the raging flood.

In the recent typhoon, De Jesus said that the water level in España reached above their knees when they stepped out of the gate. They decided to ride a pedicab to avoid dipping their toes in the gushing waters.

“Pagsakay namin, wala na ‘yung sahig nung pedicab, as in nakataas na‘yung paa namin sa loob,” she said.

In the case of Williard James Perrin, an Education senior, walking from España to Quiapo is no problem, just as long as he can arrive home.

“Ayoko ma-stranded dahil may assignments pa ‘ko. Sinulong ko talaga yung baha simula UST hanggang Quiapo para makasakay pauwi.”

Music freshman Kim Asaytono said she did not have a choice when she was stranded on Antonio Street, Dapitan.

Unfortunately, she dropped her phone in the flood and had to go through the waters to get home.

“I was not able to go home until one in the morning. And I had to walk through the flood to get to my friend who was going to bring me home,” she said.

Survival measures

Diaz makes sure her phone is always fully charged and brings her sanitizer before going to school as precaution.

Being a student with evening classes, Diaz said she takes the initiative to check weather updates from her friends who take classes in the morning.

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Both De Jesus and Asaytono said they now bring slippers and shorts in case of floods.

“If only I could, I will bring a jet boat so I could also save other students from the floods,” Asaytono said in a jest.

Cynthia Punzalan, an Education junior, saw the importance of bringing plastic bags during the rainy season.

“Together with trusty umbrellas and slippers, plastic becomes a necessity every time floods rage in the University,” she said. “It’s a simple object that serves as a waterproof protector of sorts.”

But even though one is equipped with all the right gear, Perrin mentioned that it is still best to stay in the University during heavy floods.

“Dapat lang na mag-stay muna talaga ang mga students sa building. Marami kasing nakukuhang sakit dahil sa paglusong sa baha.”

Thomasian ‘bayanihan’

Despite being stranded in the University and wading through murky streets, students have accepted that these waters are a part of being a full-fledged Thomasian.

“Kahit nahirapan ako umuwi noon, medyo natuwa pa rin talaga ako kasi nga sikat yung baha na yan eh, Thomasian baptism,” Perrin said.

Asaytono also agreed that these floods are already part of the University’s “school spirit.”

“Binabaha siya (UST) pero, marami pa ring estudyante ang pinipili or gusto mag-aral rito,” De Jesus said.

Having experienced numerous floods inside the University, Punzalan said that “bayanihan” is seen though these situations.

“Thomasians help out fellow Thomasians. Nagtutulungan talaga, kahit stranded kayo, as long as magkakasama, okay pa rin.”

She also added in case of being stranded, calming down and composing yourself first would always be the best thing to do.

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“Trust the school authorities because they know the protocols that should be done and they will surely take care of you. Do not forget to also say prayers for better weather,” Punzalan said. Mone Virma Ginry P. Gumapac and Catalina Ricci S. Madarang

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