There were two things I was supposed to write about today — how I feel about Vice President Binay’s “request” for an official residence and the electoral protest filed by Senator MAR Roxas. Those were my thoughts before I went to bed before nine o’clock last night, feeling a bit busted after working all day. But, as it turned out, typhoon Basyang got in the way. When I went to bed last night, the wind was howling but there were no heavy rains. Speedy was wide awake monitoring news breaks to find out if classes would be suspended at the girls’ school. Classes in the elementary and high school levels are automatically suspended with a typhoon signal #2 declaration, but, as of last night, Metro Manila was under signal #1 so it looked like classes in the college level would go on.
Sometime after 10 o’clock, I fell asleep. I shifted a bit when I felt the power go out after midnight. The aircon went off but Speedy opened the windows, the night air was cool and I slept through the typhoon and the blackout.
When I woke up after 8 a.m. today, the sky was still overcast but the winds have stopped. The house helper was sweeping leaves off the living room floor. The terracotta wind chimes hanging on the second floor veranda was on the floor — in smithereens. Later, Speedy would tell me what a disaster it was in the garden.
It is 9.16 p.m. as I write this post. It wasn’t a brown out that we experienced. It was a blackout — massive, huge, serious, terrible. Almost the entire island of Luzon (more than a third of this country) was without power. Worse, because water utilities are also power dependent, there was no water in many areas — including ours. Mobile phone signal was erratic. There were reports over the radio that many internet services were slow, if not totally down.
Insert on July 15, 2010 @1.44 p.m. Found the link to this video on Twitter. Embedding it just to visualize the magnitude of the typhoon.
End of insert.
I thought about my girls. My iPhone’s battery was totally drained and I couldn’t call them. Speedy uses Sun cellular service and it was down (typhoon means no “sun” — get it?). Anyway, I had experienced power outage in the condo, I knew that the elevator would be operational and they would, at least, have water in the unit. Speedy was going to see them so I stopped worrying. At least, Speedy would we able to see the condition they were in. He did. He took them out to lunch (with two of the girls’ friends in tow) as it turned out that classes in the college level were suspended.
There was nothing much to do all day. I couldn’t entertain myself by cooking and baking because our stored water was running low and, according to radio reports, complete power restoration could take another three days. I read a book, kept the radio on and cursed every few minutes. But I didn’t do what I usually did — barrage Merlaco with calls. This wasn’t a Meralco issue. According to the statistics of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), typhoon Basyang left 18 people dead, slashed across Luzon from east to west, cutting power transmission lines. Metro trains couldn’t operate leaving commuters stranded. Government offices — including the Senate and, later, the House of Representatives, had to close because of the power outage.
By the time Speedy got home late in the afternoon, I was already entertaining thoughts of getting a room at a hotel where there would be power, water and internet connection. I still have to work, typhoon or no typhoon — that’s life’s reality. And we would have left tomorrow at midday if power were not restored. But, miraculously, power went on a little before 9 p.m.
It is 9.24 as I get to this part of the post and, about fifty meters away, in a shitty carinderia outside the subdivision, someone is on a karaoke mic and singing off-key. I would have been thankful for the blackout as it saved me from the painful experience of hearing the ugly singing but the ugly singing is more bearable than not being able to go online.
So, anyway, I mentioned two things I was supposed to write about today. But this is already a long entry. I’ll write about them tomorrow. For sure. There is something else that is more relevant right now.
The Department of Education has announced that classes will resume tomorrow. With power still out in more than 50% of the areas affected by the typhoon, including Metro Manila, I thought that DepEd officials must be joking. The biggest mass transport system, the LRT and MRT, are out of commission because neither have generators to fall back on when there is a power outage. Traffic lights aren’t working — Speedy was out the whole day, remember, and he saw that there were intersections where no traffic cops nor aids were guiding pedestrians and drivers. And classes will resume tomorrow — including classes in the elementary level.
Whoa. So, how will students get to school? Are DepEd officials so clueless that they think every family has a car and all students are driven to and from school everyday. Gee, the biggest part of the student population consists of commuters.
And what about the seven- eight-year-old public school kids who walk to school? With traffic lights not working in all intersections, and with the shortage of traffic cops and aids, should they just close their eyes, cross the streets and hope they don’t get hit by speeding jeepneys and buses?
Wouldn’t it have been more prudent — and more intelligent — for the DepEd to get reports from the superintendents of various areas affected and ASK their recommendations as to whether or not it is safe — and advisable — for classes to resume in their respective areas tomorrow?