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Yellow Alert

It’s a nice night. We just finished dinner. Aircon has been turned on. The cool air is so refreshing from a whole day of inhumane intense heat and humidity cranked up by the concrete constructed all around the city. Audio from the TV can be heard in the living room. I would rather hop on youtube channels while working on something. Then, they all go off in darkness, dullness and down in sweltering sweat. These episodes are quite unpredictable. They could last for ten minutes, once in a night. Maybe they could go twice or thrice. Sometimes, the power could go out five times in a night. I didn’t bother to count because I had slept through it. I had only known because my sister told me over coffee the next day. Sometimes, it could last for an hour or so. That off and on, then off and on again is going to hurt our aircon and refrigerator.

This is so annoying. So, this is what they meant when news reports would tell about yellow or red alert on some Luzon grid. I didn’t really mind it when they say that over the news. Then, I noticed that those power interruptions would happen when there would be announcements of yellow alert. Oh, so this is what that means. We’re supposed to brace ourselves for unexpected brownouts or blackouts. (I notice that some would happen in a given area and some would happen over a larger area across towns.) I’m just wondering. Why do they have to happen at night? If these are involuntary tripoffs, why do they seem to choose to happen only at night?

I know that all of us find this very irritating. But, this is still a whole lot better than the 1992 power crisis back in the time of former President Fidel Ramos. Back then, brownouts would last from around 1 to 5 pm three to five days a week. They would be announced over the radio, so we knew and expected it. I guess that makes it better somehow. It was so frustrating because I looked forward to vacation from school so I could watch TV or Betamax all day. But I couldn’t because of the brownouts. When the power resumed at night, my father would be home to watch TV. So, I would just spend those electricity deprived afternoons wandering off and playing and walking around the neighborhood under the summer sun. Another good thing back then was the heat was a lot friendlier, and it was actually fun to play under the sun. (oh, the many things that the children today missed from the times gone by.)

But in terms of length and frequency of brownouts, what we’re experiencing right now is still better than what the nation went through in the early 1990s. So, I guess, despite the obviously greater number of population and greater number of electricity consuming establishments today, our power plants are relatively in a better shape. Electricity still runs for most of 24 hours. Brownouts don’t take 17% of a day. Should we be grateful that we’re still better than 1992? Of course, not. We could always do better. No brownouts is still better than fewer and shorter brownouts. I often wonder how they do it in other countries that brownouts are unheard of. Their power plants are probably more or miles away modern, compared to ours. But why? Is it funding? Is it legislation? Is it the proactive attitude? Is it the inclination toward innovation? Is it the practice of updating equipment even if they still could be used?

We have a thinning power supply. Maybe, things are relatively better now than the situation in 1992. But don’t tell us that the current power shortage is a “natural disaster” and we can not do anything about it. From what we know, “natural disasters” are typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes and landslides that we could not do anything but to protect ourselves from them. This intense heat could also be considered as a natural disaster. But, is this power shortage a “natural disaster”? Yes, it is a disaster, but it’s not natural. It’s something like fire or vehicular accident which can be prevented and not a helpless natural phenomenon. These brownouts could have actually been prevented with some calculation and comprehensive construction of corresponding infrastructure. To call it a “natural disaster” is a resignation of responsibility to deliver efficient service to the nation.

Are we being told that we should accept inefficient services as something “natural” like typhoons, and that we should just let it pass? We could do something about this and we should do something about this.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”


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