Life in the Fast Lane


Power Trip

By 6:25 PM , , , , , , , , ,

I think the Philippines is fairly experienced when it comes to handling typhoons. In fact, I would say that we're probably getting better at it year after year. The recent storm that hit us (local name: Glenda; international name: Rammasun) was forecasted early, so a lot of families were able to evacuate and prepare their household supplies days in advance.

I remember waking up at 2am yesterday because the wind was so strong. During past typhoons, I would observe just how intense the rainfall was. Yesterday was different, though, because there was less rainfall and more wind. In fact, it sounded like wolves howling outside, set against a curtain of raindrops.

I woke up again at 5am because the rain had intensified. It was still eerily dark, so I checked on how things looked outside. We were already out of power by this time (I think our lines went down around 3am) and I couldn't go back to sleep.

Most of my family members were already wide awake from 6:30 onwards. At this point, none of us even attempted to go to work because it hadn't stopped raining, our street was flooded ankle-deep, and the wind was still at it.

Photo from here.

Funny that because we had no power, we were forced to resort to entertaining ourselves the old school way: through books, food (my mom wanted to bake chocolate chip cookies), toys (in my brother's case, he built another LEGO set), Bible reading, cards, and boardgames. Not to mention that we got to talk and catch up with each other; in other words, engage in proper conversations that we normally don't have even on weekends.

What was funnier, though, was how we were more worried about our gadgets running out of battery*. This was echoed by numerous people in my social media feeds.

Never mind the heat. Never mind the discomfort. What about our phones? How can I watch movies on my laptop or iPad when my battery's about to die?

Many resorted to disabling their LTE or 3G reception just to conserve their battery**. Others, when the roads were clear, headed over to the mall to charge all of their gadgets. A few who couldn't do so resorted to charging their phones in their cars. 

Photo from here.

I remember when nationwide blackouts were more frequent when I was a kid. We survived back then on portable lights, battery-powered fans, battery-powered radios to listen to the news, our toys, and our imagination. We didn't even have cellphones back then; landlines were more than enough to do the job to connect us to the outside world.

Looking back on yesterday, I realized just how times have changed. No longer are we as dependent on the radio to find out what the flood conditions are, what time the eye of the storm will be passing through Manila, what time power will be restored, etc.

And I also how realized just good we have it in Manila. We might complain endlessly about the traffic, the (lack of a) transport system, the pollution, the corruption, etc. But for the most part, we have so many luxuries that aren't available to our neighboring provinces. Also, many of our homes, cars, and sources of livelihood are still around; these are huge blessings.

We city folk have come to a point wherein we panic when the power's down because, first and foremost, this means minimal Internet access, especially since we have to turn off 3G/LTE to save power. Our source of news has shifted severely from AM stations to Twitter and Facebook. And I'm willing to bet that by the time the next typhoon makes its way here, people will have stocked up on power banks; not for radios or sources of light, mind you, but to make sure that their cellphones, laptops, and tablets stay charged.

On my family's end, power was restored at 8:30pm. At the time, my siblings and I were playing a game of cards and as soon as the lights came back on, we cheered, blew out the candles, finished playing and went online, reverting to being "antisocial again", as my sister said.

For some reason, though, I actually appreciated the fact that we were able to have fun despite the gloomy situation; heck, we were able to laugh about it every now and then.

Having to face Mother Nature at her worst strips everyone of, ultimately, what is luxurious. I was simply thankful that at the end of the day, our house was intact, none of our cars and household items were damaged (unlike in 2009 when Typhoon Ondoy struck), we had food to eat and water to drink (and bathe ourselves with), and more importantly, my loved ones and I were safe and sound at home (again, unlike during Typhoon Ondoy when we were scattered in different places).

I was also grateful that despite the intensity of the storm, a lot of people managed to evacuate days in advance and the government was more prepared this time around.

Being power-less (literally) was just a minor power trip compared to how much more difficult and serious the situation could have been. But I'm glad that our electricity's back (and that I can happily live on the Internet again!).

However, needless to say, I've re-learned not to take things for granted***.

* Dear Apple, I'm praying that your next iPhone's battery life will have improved drastically. Not that things have gotten significantly better despite how many iPhone generations have passed. Please, please work on this.

** I'm pretty sure that power banks will be the Philippines' next selfie-pod.

*** Meralco has announced that it's conducting 3-hour rotating brownouts, since they still don't have enough power to supply the whole city. Again, this will be an exercise in patience for all of us. Charge your gadgets while you can, especially those who are in the office!

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  1. re: rotating brownouts - we had the same experience last year during yolanda. it was very exasperating, especially if it was a weekend and you're just at home. but it was only for an hour each day for almost a month. still, it taught me to value a lot of things especially water and electricity. mahirap yung 3 araw kayong walang tubig. hehe!

    1. I know! Come to think of it, mas malala pa rin ata ang walang tubig kaysa sa walang kuryente. Haha!

  2. Yeah, given a choice, I'd pick going without electricity rather than being without water. Going without electricity indefinitely can be managed, water not as much.

  3. Definitely! I'd rather make sure I have water to drink (and to cook and bathe with). Haha!

    Thanks for dropping by!


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