Everyone braced themselves for it, and then it ran through all of us. A massive evil spirit that crept across the land, dragging with it anything that was bold enough to stand on its way. Typhoons, we have them regularly, yet they would come seemingly strong as ever. It was somehow consoling that it did not stay for too long, as some said it would. The day after, howling winds were replaced with sweeping brooms, hammer hitting wood or iron and the rumbling of generator sets which has now become relatively more common. (One gasoline station ran out of diesel, not from cars pumping gas.) Rains still found its way to ravage, but not with the same recent resolve.
Fascinatingly, what came after was dogdays that was characteristic of a heatwave in the middle of a tropical summer. I just wonder, while autumn breeze blows falling leaves in other parts of the world, we swelter in sweat in humidity coupled with the exhaust from engines of vehicles caught in heavy traffic. Initially, I thought to myself, it must be a jam of a few minutes. But wait, this seems to be taking way too long. I can’t recall if something similar like this had happened before, but I think this is a remarkable occurrence that traffic is very heavy all around the city. What’s with all the people out of their homes and on the streets? Were not classes in all levels suspended for the rest of the week, and so with work for a while in public and private offices? Traditionally, post-typhoon days are spent at homecleaning up the yard, fixing struck down structures, languishing with the laundry and engaging in conversations and enjoying the afternoon breeze, the fireflies in the moonlit sky and other things we take for granted because we’re too preoccupied with electricity. But I guess times have changed, after the typhoon, people took to any motor vehicle to clog the roads to congregate in any place with free charging of gadgets, air conditioning and if luck would be on your side, free wi-fi. Unimaginably, people have thronged to the malls supposedly to make up for the loss of electricity and the perks that come along with it. I couldn’t believe that people actually sit on floors inside malls presumably to plug a phone or just find relief from the inconvenience at home. Malls were actually jampacked, and so were the roads with all sorts of vehicles, making a long queue of wheels on the concrete pavements. I guess, the electricity deprived public have all decided to take advantage of the amenities that these monuments of commerce have to offer for free. Transport got more inconvenient at night with still heavy traffic and with the posts missing their lights and generators roaring relentlessly. How are driver and passenger going to see each other on the road?
I heard a comment on the less than clean state of the city streets when the sun was already shining, and the allegedly slow clean-up process, drawing comparisons to then efforts of former mayors Robredo and Bongat. I initially brushed it off, having heard something similar back when former mayor JB was in city hall, thinking that people would always compare and not run out of negative nuggets to notice. But then I heard from some more people, heard it over the radio, and heard it again somewhere. Then, I thought to myself, there must be some bases for these rants. Back when former Mayor Bongat took to the streets to get his hands dirty in picking up trash and shoveling mud left by the storm, there were comments of inauthenticity that was unlike his predecessor former Mayor Robredo. I said then, cut the man some slack, Mayor Jess was a Ramon Magsaysay award recipient, for crying out loud. Those are too large shoes to fill. One has to give Mayor John credit. He gave it his own best. Now, here we go again with something similar. We have to understand if Mayor Nelson doesn’t go out the streets of Naga wearing a faded t-shirt, denim shorts with ripped edges, rubber slippers, riding a bike, then stopping by to get his hands muddied. Maybe that’s not him, and it would be hypocrisy if he attempted to mimic the act just for the sake of it. But then again, were not the systems for post-typhoon rehabilitation in place since 1989? It’s not really the mayor who cleans up. But I suppose, some of the guys who have been doing this job in the 90s are still around. Even if they are not around anymore, should not the discipline have been passed on to the next generation? So, why this break of habit? Why am I picking and piling up these tree branches and g.i. sheets? And why were they still there days after on the pile that I made?
I do appreciate the priority placed on areas with schools in the restoration of electricity. I also appreciate the extension of suspension of classes until complete reconnection of electricity. Thanks for the acknowledgement that class instruction would be very difficult for pupils in swarms of sweat, not to mention, the inability to access materials on the computer. Now, that’s a big plus for considering the children and their education. Now, since we’ve realized this, should not classes be suspended when CASURECO cuts electricity from 6 am to 6 pm?
“There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.”