SURVIVING a typhoon, especially one as strong and as relentless as Glenda, offers plenty of lessons that allow us to put things in perspective.
Having experienced my fair share of deadly and crippling supertyphoons through the decades, I’d say Glenda (a.k.a. Rammasun) easily earns a spot in my list of Top 5.
Unlike Ondoy in 2009, which brought a deluge of rain that submerged large portions of Metro Manila, Glenda was more of a wind event—the kind that uproots trees and lampposts, tangles and cuts power lines, and sends walls collapsing and tin roofs flying and whirling aimlessly in the air before landing to whom they may concern.
Since I was abroad when a similar “howler” like Milenyo blew into town in 2006, I revert back to faint childhood memories of Yoling in 1970, whose destructive power, as far as I’m concerned, rivals or even eclipses that of Glenda.
Of course, the all-time record breaker in terms of death and destruction is still 2013’s Yolanda (a.k.a. Haiyan), said to be the strongest recorded weather disturbance of its kind to hit land, but its lethal trajectory was hardly felt in Metro Manila, including my home in Bacoor, Cavite.
Glenda, as people living in the Bicol region, Southern Tagalog, especially Quezon province, and Metro Manila all know by now, also managed to leave her mark, and how!
Unlike some friends I know, we had to wait for days for Meralco to turn the switch back on. While some neighborhoods hardly experienced any power interruptions except during and soon after Glenda made her presence felt, we had to endure more than 72 hours of powerlessness.
For me, that meant reading (a hard habit I can’t seem to break) before going to bed with my Dad’s special flashlight on—the kind that comes with a headband, which miners place around their heads before venturing underground.
It was also a time for me to bring out and put to good use all the huge, beautiful candles I’ve received from friends and well-meaning individuals through the years. The fact that most of these candles were scented turned our house at night into a virtual garden of olfactory delights.
Thank goodness the weather was relatively cool. Otherwise, sleeping without the air-con on would have been a struggle for me. For the first time in recent memory, I had to open the bedroom windows facing the street.
Somehow, noise coming from passersby at night and children playing (to their delight, classes were suspended!) in the morning wasn’t as bad as I first imagined. Such, ah, ambient sounds were far better and more bearable than sleeping in a dark stuffy room with all the windows shut.
A Facebook friend of mine even found the experience of seeing and hearing children having fun under a moonless, powerless night refreshing.
Instead of being holed up in their houses playing computer games and watching the last two episodes of “Dysebel,” kids in her neighborhood, she said, were now out in the streets playing real games and singing children’s songs way into the night.
In short, it reminded her of how things were during her younger days and how they ought to be. Since we’re the same age, I know where she’s coming from.
As I write this, our Globe landline, which is bundled with our Internet, has yet to be restored. Neither is our cable TV back online. The worse part is, even my Globe-powered cell phone has “no service.”
A long time
I have to walk to the nearest intersection, which is some 50 meters away from our house, to get a signal. So, if it’s taking me a long time to respond to your texts and Facebook PMs these days, I beg your indulgence.
(Should luck allow me to upload this entry in my blog, it’s safe for you to assume that I was able to do it using a public establishment’s Wi-Fi.)
Yes, three whole days in today’s wired world seemed like a long time to wait for power to be back on. By then, the butter in the fridge had all but melted and turned rancid, while my once fully charged battery pack had been depleted and, like an unwanted paperweight, rendered useless.
But who am I to complain when not a few people, especially in hard-hit provinces, have yet to experience having dinner post-Glenda with all the lights turned on? At least, I still have a roof over my head and running water to boot. Some of these folks have yet to see an end to their woes, as they watch over their dead in dark, candlelit wakes.
As of Friday morning, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office reported at least 43 casualties in the Calabarzon region. Of this number, 10 died and 75 were injured in Quezon alone.
According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, most were killed by toppled trees and lampposts, collapsing walls and by drowning.
Armed with lifeless cell phones that can’t even double as flashlights at night, their surviving relatives wait to this day seemingly in vain for a return of electricity, nay normalcy into their lives.