Thursday, October 22, 2009

cold, cold turkey

... pushing thru with joining the tree-planting activity on Saturday at Tanay, Rizal - despite the oncoming typhoon. We're required to bring a shovel, so I'm planning on buying a small one. (Magpa-sweet ba?) The only thing I'm not so comfy about this activity is having to be at the meeting place at 5:30AM. My usual waking hour (due to my work schedule) is around 10AM. I just hope the rains don't pour on Saturday. It wouldn't feel so nice being drenched while lacking sleep. soooo...

... I'm trying to get off the caffeine hook due to health reasons. Been doing it for a week now. It's amazing, actually, for someone like me who gets a daily doze of up to 2 cups. It seems like caffeine has got a hold on me. I used to be able to ignore my coffee cravings, but now I have to take substitutes like hot choco, or keep myself full so I don't crave for anything more to put into my mouth. I'm a sniff short of getting the chills... I feel uneasy whenever I feel sleepy at mid-afternoon - more so when I smell someone else's freshly-mixed 3-in-1 in the office.

... Feelin' like I have to curb my shopping drive. Couldn't help but buy, buy, buy things. Have to remind self that I still have to pay, pay, pay bills. It's not easy resisting purchasing nice clothes during a sale. Or a marked-down photographic equipment.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

bits and pieces of the day

on my way to work, midday, the rain poured in rage again. it's not a good thing, since a drizzle is already enough to cause panic to people. the cab I was in drove through the side streets of South Triangle, windshield turning white from the onslaught of water. cars had to turn on hazard lights. I was so scared that we would bump into another car because it was so difficult to see through the white-outed glass. I thought of what the flood victims would be feeling at the time.

heard over the radio that a group of militants are expressing doubts on the intentions of the US troops who are helping in the relief and rescue operations. I couldn't help but swear. how dare them to question the presence of extra helping hands for hapless people who are already complaining on the lack of such? have these people even tried to give anything or participate in the relief operations? lives are at stake, for crying out loud! this is no time for political blah-blahs. these foreigners are helping because they decided that they like to help. whatever their intentions are, what's important is that the death toll doesn't rise anymore, that more mouths are fed, more backs are warmed, that more homes are regained, and more and lives are set right again. if these foreigners have underlying sinister intentions for helping, then shame on them. we wouldn't owe them anything if they use this situation against us. at any rate, I couldn't think of how someone or anyone could have sinister intentions for helping during disasters such as this. oh, but some people... our fellow Filipinos even, have the shameless audacity of protesting against the aid that's coming the way of our ill-fated kababayans. I hope, for their sake, that these are not the same set of people who waved the banner crying for the president to step down during the burial of Cory Aquino. some people are just crass.

on the news, a crocodile was found floating on the floodwater of Cainta, Rizal. no nearby zoo claims the reptile. authorities have checked, and so far there's no conclusion as to the truth of this story. but that picture by the one who encountered it is so convincing. I hope the reptile gets caught immediately. the flood victims don't need another threat to worry about. unless they suddenly find a taste for croc meat. we all know how starvation can skew the food chain.

checked on the oncoming storm after hearing the word "supertyphoon" from Nathaniel Cruz. "Pepeng" ("Parma" to the international community) has sustained winds of 195 kph and gustiness of up to 230 kph. It's already a Category 4 storm. "Milenyo," of two years ago, had sustained winds of 150 kph with the same gustiness. Pepeng's lowest pressure is at 920 hPA, while Milenyo's is at 950 hPA. Pepeng: stronger sustained winds, lower pressure. The deeper or lower the pressure, the stronger the storm. Now, if we would recall how Milenyo was like... let's hope for the best for this country.

told the staff who would be on duty tomorrow to bring change of clothes and toiletries to get ready for what could happen due to the storm. some suggested to chip in for food.

let's pray.


broken dreams. broken lives. broken homes. broken spirits. broken souls.

Friday, the storm was merely a news item. It was just like an insignificant part of the daily stories mixed up in the lineup of things to tell the world. "Oh, another storm. It's gonna be a rainy day tomorrow." By nightfall the nightmare started to creep in. Only, no one noticed it had until the next day.

Saturday morning, I even almost had the tenacity of going malling. I looked out the window and observed the rain that has not stopped falling since the previous night and tried to encourage myself to go out despite the torrential downpour. I was planning on counting on my rain jacket. But there was a tagging of two poles in my head - feeling a bit lazy to go out because of the rain... but itching to roam. Laziness go the best of me so I didn't step out of the house. I didn't know until the afternoon that it was a decision for the best.

I "forced" myself to be a couch potato, in spite of my head screaming to go out. I slumped on the sofa and switched the TV on, only to begin witnessing the wrath of the storm that was above us. I couldn't believe what I was seeing when they showed what seemed to be a sea in the middle of the city.

One of the anchors of the noontime news program wasn't able to make it to the studio, as he was stuck in Ortigas. There, he witnessed and reported on the collapse of the Corinthian Garden wall, resulting to what looked like a waterfall dumping all that its got onto EDSA. And then news on situations from various parts of the Metro poured in. Town after town, city after city submerged into floodwater. Dams announced schedules of water release.

I was able to get a good picture of what was going on before the electricity went out. And then text messages from the Library staff trickled in. One informed me that he cannot come to work because he woke up to the scene of all his things floating on floodwater - including his clothes. I coordinated for his pinch hitter right away. It was then that I realized how skeletal our manpower is, as it would not be easy - if not impossible - for most of the librarians to make it to the office. Those who were already on duty were forced to stay for hours after their time off. One was stuck in Bulacan when a bridge collapsed and the NLEX was closed. One librarian braved flood and traffic to get to work and sub for those who were already off-duty. Even though I wasn't able to get to work, I spent much of the time coordinating and re-configuring staff schedule just to ensure continuity of the Library operations for the sake of the news programs. It's a chain of responsibilities, if you would look at it. We have to keep the news programs airing so that the public would be kept informed.

I was working like a call center agent, connecting to people well into the night. The next day, I tried to catch up on my sleep only to be woken up again by a barrage of text messages. Alas, I had to reconfigure staff schedule again, as personnel get stuck in their homes, get sick, or get overworked. I thought that I was having a bad day, but thought again when I was reminded of the flood victims.

The first weekday was no less of a chaos: relief and rescue operations here and there, images of flood victims everywhere, houses submerged in water and mud, cars stacked up and jumbled like bowling pins and turtles on their backs... everyone, everything is grinding to make things better as much and as soon as possible. But it's so hard to pick up the pieces from what Nature has left of us.

I had to fight tears as I watched stories of victims air in the primetime news. It feels as if giving goods to these people, or working for relief operations would not be enough to make things right again.

We say that the Filipino spirit is resilient. We haven't seen the conclusion of this episode. Heck, another storm is coming... so soon. It's forcing the flipped pages open again. Maybe we are strong. But the times is trying to test how strong we are. I'm starting to wonder as I watch a father break down in tears as he told the story of how he tried to save his family. "I tried all that I can, but I wasn't able to save them," he said. And then he appealed to his father on TV, "please come and help me. I can't take this anymore. I can't do this on my own."

It's frightening what's happening these days. Here in the Network, and in the newsroom, we are exposed to the events of the world. Bad news after bad news. One coming after the other in such a hasty pace. It's so difficult to keep an upright psyche with all of these. Maybe we had all these coming. What goes around comes around, and our planet is tossing our shit back to us. But no matter how you see everyone to be at fault for what's happening, there's nothing you can feel but compassion when you see who reaped what we sowed.