It was Quiet at the Start
It was a balmy morning when I woke up in my tropical jungle home. The Sun peeked through the bamboo lattice above our bed, bathing us sleepers in golden light. Birds sang from tree branches, expressing their gratefulness for the blissful morning.
I got up, stretched, freshened up a bit, and did some chores. Then it was breakfast.
After breakfast, I couldn’t help but look around me with amazement — everywhere, the leaves of all the trees and flowers glistened. The sky had never been bluer that this morning. The air smelled sweet.
It was a perfect May morning. But it lasted only for a few hours. Minutes before 9am, the bank of clouds to our West, cloaking Mt. Talinis, suddenly turned dark. Ominous rumblings rolled down from the cloaked mountain, and the wind suddenly picked up, chilling me to the bone.
Tata advised that we might as well head down to the Shoe Factory while there’s still time, as we would be driving down only in a motorcyle, which could not afford us shelter in case it started raining. I agreed and was at once in a flurry to beat the coming droplets. While I was taking a bath, a light drizzle started. Still, the Sun was out and shining from overhead. We still have time.
Driving down the mountains, Tata and I talked about the choices people make in order to survive. While we were discussing the pros and cons of marrying an old guy who has only a short time to live for the money, water suddenly gushed down from above, like it was tipped from a barrel. We had to take shelter, fast! Our first stop was under a canopy of banana leaves and coconut fronds, which did not help much in keeping us dry. We got on the motorcycle again and drove under the rain until, a few meters away, we saw a makeshift shed. There were people in the shed halloing us to get out from the rain, and we didn’t need any more coaxing.
We saw that the shed under which we took shelter was actually a furniture and upholstery shop, with sawdust, wood glue, bits and pieces of wood shavings, half-finished cabinets and dining chairs, and cuts of lumber all over. A green-painted wooden sign said
Tatang’s Furniture Shop
– Accepts upholstery and carving
– Any kind of anything
The people of the shop were very friendly (topic of another post) and entertained us with their humorous jabs at each other.
When the rains stopped two hours (yes, two hours!) later, Tata and I drove off, happy in the knowledge that we’ve found new friends.
A few hundreds of meters from where we stopped for shelter because of the torrential rain, the soggy muddy ground abruptly gave way to gravely bone-dry cemented road; it was obvious that, despite the couple of hours of heavy rain where we got stranded, not a drop fell here. The Sun was even out, scorching us like any noonday Sun would.
I arrived at the Shoe Factory just in time for me to log a few hours of overtime.
Freak Storms and Flash Floods
Then it rained again. Thunder boomed outside, and some people in the other processes cracked nervous jokes about the weather. With each thunder clap, the lights would flicker as if power outtage would follow. Change of shift came, and the power held. There were, however, a lot of employees who were not able to come for the second shift. News reached us that the South National Highway, which is the main artery by which to reach the Shoe Factory, was inundated with knee-high (and in some places, thigh-high) water.
Motorists were stranded, and some had opted to take a detour through the mountains, passing the place where Tata and I stopped for shelter, just to get to their destinations across the flooded part of the main roadway. My friend, Hyacinth, was one of those came in at 4pm; she’s tardy by two hours for the afternoon shift. At five in the afternoon, that part of the road was still flooded.
The last time that that part of the highway was waterlogged was in 1999, and that time, there was a supertyphoon harassing the Visayas region.
The rains have stopped for the time being, and the Sun is shining out again, hotter that it has been a few hours ago. But in the West I see dark sinister clouds lurking.
I wish for a dry passage tonight when we go home.
[images courtesy of Diana Pilson of Uni.of Nebraska (www.unl.edu) and of news.motorbiker.org]