I already knew beforehand that this year’s November 1 would be different. But I thought it would be unlike those of the past years’ because we won’t be going to the cemeteries for All Saints Day traditions in compliance to the nationwide restrictions due to prevention of Covid infection. What I didn’t know was even if the government had not released directives not to flock the memorial parks, none of us would be able to do it anyway because supertyphoon Rolly would roll us all over like a rollercoaster ride. Judging from the numbers, this menace has got to be the meanest of them all. I didn’t know that typhoon signal number 5 was within PAGASA’s alert signals. Don’t they go up just until 4? Signal no. 4 itself is rare enough. We might as well have dug a hole on the ground and took a dive because 5 was alive. Amid the haze in the horizon where pedicabs spun around, tricycles got blown off to fall on ditches and g.i. sheets flew across as if they were Aladdin’s magic carpet, I was holding tight to a rope that tied one of our windows to the wall because despite the knot, the winds seem to force its way to pull it open. So, it was his gust vs. my thrust. I know many people had it a lot worse than my skirmish with the squall. Even as I was groping of some ingenious way to keep that window from being whisked away, I was pretty sure that many of our countrymen were having a time worse than mine. Just when it seemed like it was going to grind on forever, the winds waned down, the rains took a rest, and the skies shone in a clearest white with a calm after cruelty, as if gloating with gladness in the gloom and grief that it had just granted.
You have to give the highest respects to the resilience of responses. Even before the storm completely subsided, residents were picking up discarded materials, making sound of hammering for repair, and pulling up that three wheeled transport from the ditch it fell on. Part of me wanted to say, wait, it might not be over yet. But, what the heck, the sooner we pick ourselves up, the sooner we could get up and move on. Hours later, it was either too quiet or too noisy; too quiet because electricity was blank with blackout and the neighborhood has been given a breather from the wailings of out of tune videoke singers, or too noisy because the generator sets have begun to rumble on .
Despite our astonishment of the typhoon’s fortitude and magnitude, such scenes are part of our cyclical culture. We have seen this before many times, from different angles, at varying times of the days. I’ve seen the coconut trees swaying, residences robbed of roofing, heard that all too familiar wind howling, flood on the floor rising, trees trembling and eventually trampling, even got caught in a car that was shaking, and all that transpire in the traditions of a tropical typhoon. Thereafter, we have experienced the long drought of electricity, the complaints against CASURECO on how long we have to endure the heat and darkness, and the diverse ways we cope with the inconvenience.
But what makes this latest typhoon special (if we could call it that) is that it comes in a series of strong storms amid the Covid crisis, further aggravating the agony of this age. How do industries that are already on their knees get up from being further floored down? Would it be possible to declare another state of calamity over an existing state of calamity? Can we declare a state of multiple calamities? Do the LGUs still have fund for some relief packs? If a novel virus was not successful in completely cancelling classes, let a supertyphoon do that job. How do you go online when you can’t even charge your low battery?
If we have faced this numerous times, should not we have mastered this monster? If we could not install electric lines underground, maybe we could look for more typhoon resistant electric cables and posts or at least those which would be quickly repairable after some disaster; if ever that’s possible. Well, there was a time when lighting not from fire was not within man’s idea of realm of possibilities. Yes, that was generations ago. Maybe we could start innovating now for the generations to come.
Now, here’s something more feasible. Are not local government units, government agencies and even non-government organizations capable of constructing evacuation centers for people expected to be affected by disasters? Some of those recently built places of refuge escalate up to three storeys. Now, maybe these LGU’s, agencies and organizations could level up their efforts further to create a scheme for the construction of permanent shelters of the same reliable material that they would use for these evacuation centers for low income families in high risk areas? In that way, when a typhoon comes, the families don’t have to evacuate because their permanent homes are as good as evacuation centers already, (well, minus the relief packs). I guess socio-cultural and economic factors would be interfering issues; but maybe it’s worth considering.
“Therefore we said that it will be, when they say this to us or to our generations in time to come…” Joshua 22:28