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The Heat is On

Last year at this same month, schools implemented a half-day schedule due to the intense heat. School children went to school earlier and go home at 12 noon. When you think about it, did that really protect them from the heat? They would go out under the midday sun at the peak of heat and hurry with kids from Kinder to senior high school, rushing to take a ride with more heat from the concrete, jeepney and tricycle exhaust and shared body heat from the pack of passengers. Did not that just make them sheep being fed directly to the ravaging wolves? But, at least, they didn’t get to suffer the sweltering sweat with scores of fellow students inside concrete walls that intensify the temperature even more, with limited ventilation blowing like a breeze from sunrise through its summit at the sky and down to its setting. At least, they could find relief at home where they could share the electric fan with four siblings and cousins, take a bath every hour if they wanted to, or cool themselves with the air conditioning in any mall, fastfood place or coffee shop. That went on for a month or so; and it was popular among the students.

Now, we’re at the same time of the year when I feel the steam blowing off my body starting at 10 am with the heat picking up through noon and the perspiration pouring through the afternoon. The temperature even continues to bake you in the evening. Shall we take that same schedule again? I wouldn’t mind if we do.

According to a news article, more than a thousand schools have suspended face-to-face classes due to this extreme heat. (so, it’s covid-19 lockdown all over again for them.) This wave is sweeping from Pangasinan to Metro manila, to Iloilo, Capiz, Negros Island to South Cotabato. (That practically cut across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.) Why did it skip Bicol? Don’t we feel the heat around here? If you’re thinking that they’re running home because it suddenly got hot, no, they’re not. These are school administrations’ responses to PAGASA forecast that temperature will range from 42 to 51 degrees Celsius in the next two days. That is pretty admirably preventive and proactive thinking that we don’t usually get from our government nowadays…. Or ever. This extreme heat is said to potentially cause cramps, exhaustion, headaches, high blood pressure and heat stroke. Not just that, it becomes too taxing to think to study or work in the middle of extreme heat. Of course, you could push yourself by drinking water, changing clothes or washing your face. But the heat will just helplessly wear, tire and drag you down. So, if anyone is thinking that staying home would decrease productivity, maybe, staying to work would do the opposite.

Let me just take time and space on ink and paper to commend these over a thousand of school administrations that have decided to proactively and preventively protect the children from a highly probable problem. Usually, we only watch for weather forecasts and act on it when typhoons are coming. We usually pass it by when the weatherman is talking about heat. It has been hot even before anyway. This is an intelligent response and utilization of information. When someone tells you that it’s going to be hellishly hot, you don’t doubt the data or test if it tallies to the truth. Go, find cover, even if it turns out to be false. So what? You were safe anyway. If it turns out to be true, then you would be rewarded with sure safety. This is learning from lessons of experience. Had we not gone through Covid-19 lockdown, we would have not figured that classes could be modular. Now, we realized that we could do that in similar situations when students could not come to school. They could do modules in class suspensions during typhoons, , in lengthy power interruptions, when classrooms are being repaired, when there’s an outbreak of some disease, and of course, when it gets too inconveniently and unhealthily hot. We learned and earned a good tool on that period of pandemic; and they decided to put it to very good use, instead of just hanging it on the wall as a memento of a time gone by. This is showing concern for school children above school days. Administrators in offices with air conditioning cranked up high may be thinking about programs and policies. But what about the school children who seriously struggle with getting by in the sentence of the seize of the summer sun.

So, how about the rest of the schools? How about other workplaces?

Matthew 16:3: “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”


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