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Escola de Samba de Manila at the Kasbah Fort on Halloween 2012.
Had quite an adventure last night after the gig at the Fort.
We were on the way home, driving down McKinley Road and nearing the Polo Club when we saw parts of a car (bumper or side mirror) and shards of glass all over the road. Driving just a hundred meters or so down, we reached the car that was turned to it’s passenger side with a few good samaritans and spectators on the side of the road. Toni asked me if I should stop and I said ‘yes, let’s check it out.” So we I got out, walked straight to the accident site. The people there immediately moved further to the side and made space for me as I looked into the broken windshield of the car. There was a woman inside screaming frantically and under her looked like a white dress, so I thought there were two of them and one was either dead or seriously hurt. But it turned out she was alone. I walked to the back and someone told me that they had already opened the trunk and tried to coax her out but she wouldn’t budge. So I opened the trunk again and asked Toni to put the back passenger seat down so I can crawl in to get closer to the woman screaming inside the car.
She was still screaming like mad. I spoke to her but for the first few minutes couldn’t get her to focus. She kept screaming and crying. Then I finally asked her to look at me and take a few deep breaths. She stopped and seemed to calm down. I asked her if she was hurt and she told me ‘no’. But the moment she realized where she was and what had happened, went straight back to screaming but this time speaking and talking about how she couldn’t believe what she had done to the car. I told her to forget about the car and that she was fine and very lucky to have survived the crash with barely a scratch. She was hysterical. Then I told her to look at me and asked her her name. She answered *’Ilaw’ and continued to cry and scream. So, using her name, I held her left wrist, spoke to her, and tried to calm her down. She finally asked me my name and I replied. That opened our conversation.
She wished to be in the hospital because she couldn’t imagine what her boyfriend would do when he finds out she had been drinking and driving his brand new car, which is now completely totaled, lying on it’s side in the middle of Makati. She wanted to have the car pushed back upright but I told her we couldn’t do that while she was inside. She looked for her phone and I stopped her, to prevent her from getting shards of glass stuck in her hands. I managed to convince her to crawl to the back seat and I pushed to the front to help her find her phone. A good samaritan woman dialed her phone number so that we could locate it among all the car parts that had broken off upon impact. Toni found a plastic bag and I collected all Ilaw’s personal belongings and placed it inside for safe-keeping. When I finally found the phone, she called a friend. She spoke to her briefly and I then took over the conversation to confirm that an accident had happened. The friend then immediately decided to come find us. Meanwhile, the good samaritan woman had already called the police and ambulance, which were on their way as well.
We spoke for some time. She was terribly worried about the car and how she would handle the situation, the process she’d have to take with the authorities. She called a couple people while I sat in the back of the car with her, waiting for the ambulance and her friends to arrive. She still wasn’t willing to get out of the car. Especially with all the curious folk waiting to see her step out. When the police arrived, I had to hold space making sure that they gave her enough space and time to collect herself after such an intense experience. I stepped away when her friends arrived and, after a short while, handed her friend Toni’s calling card with my number written on the back should they have any questions. I gave Ilaw a warm, tight hug. We hugged for a while. I told her to take care and that it was a pleasure to meet her. She replied “under these circumstances…”.
The funny thing is, apparently, her boyfriend is an ADB Diplomat who was currently on a business trip to Brazil. We had just come from a gig, with me still shining from all the glitter on my eyes and all over my body after dancing with Toni’s Brazilian Bateria. Strange synchronicity.
We arrived there at the right time. If she had continued to scream hysterically like that inside the car, she may have gone into psychosis. She was incredibly lucky to be alive, even more lucky that she only got bruises and some pain from the impact.
I am so happy that I was there, able to help her come back to her center. I felt good walking away from that knowing that I did my share. It was meant to be.
* (Name of accident survivor has been changed.)