Power’s Out!

For those who aren’t updated, the Philippines was recently hit by a strong typhoon named Glenda (international name: Rammasun) yesterday. It did some pretty serious damage to the the transmission lines of electricity, thereby leaving millions of households without electricity. We were hit with the power outage as well so we had endure more than 12 hours of darkness. Power was gone at 5 am and returned at around 7 pm to the tune of collective sighs of relief, at least in my area. Some had their electricity back earlier, while others are still struggling with the darkness as of writing time.

Besides the power outage, a number of roads were also deemed impassable due to flood, so my siblings stayed at home and did not report for work. That we were complete yesterday, all members of my family present, proved to be a spectacle because this only happened on weekends. But what made it interesting was the absence of light and internet–it made everyone feel very restless. My sister tried to get work done, but then she realized that the wireless router is practically useless without electricity, so she turned to moping and napping in her bed.

There wasn’t much to do but nap, eat, and curse the typhoon for ruining our day. My brother sat up at around 4 pm, complaining from an aching lower back which he believed was caused by napping too much. Everyone tried to read in the afternoon, with the very little light that streamed through the windows. At around 5pm, when the rains and strong winds have ceased, my dad and I decided to visit the chapel in our subdivision and bike around to see the damages. Two streets, including ours, were impassable for a time because trees toppled across them. There were mountains of fallen leaves as well. And since there wasn’t any electricity, people entertained themselves by going outside their houses. Kids played as their parents watched them and fanned themselves. There were lots of people on bikes besides us, probably assessing the damages as well. Several garages, including ours, became drinking venues; it also became a time for friends to get together.

When the power returned, everyone in the house scrambled to have gadgets charged. My aunt also tried to reach our relatives in Sorsogon, Bicol, who had it worse–besides electricity, their water was also cut off. Typhoon Glenda also wrecked the town’s public market, which is still trying to recover from a huge fire from last month. While having dinner, we exchanged bits of news from our friends. Some were lucky enough to remain unscathed by the typhoon, while others, like my friend, had damaged roofs. Photos of trees blocking roads, people seeking shelter in evacuation centers, and cars trashed by the storm were scattered on my Facebook feed.

My siblings returned to work today, so I was left with my parents, my aunt, and one of my brothers. Before noon, the power went out again, much to our disappointment and ire. My parents had to go somewhere and my brother drove for them, so I was left with my aunt. We had to endure yet more hours of darkness and heat. She was already complaining how the darkness was affecting her sight. I tried to ring the electricity provider many times, only to get the busy tone for replies. My mom texted me, saying that they were nearing home and asked me to brew coffee for them, and I obeyed.

I filled the coffee maker with water and ground coffee, but it was only when I tried to switch it on that I realized that everything I did is useless, because the power’s out! I was mad at myself for being so absent-minded, but at the same time, I found it hilarious. When my parents and brother came back, we laughed it off.

It’s funny how the smallest things are so ingrained in our lives– they become our habits, that sometimes we actually become mindless of the things we do because of routine. If these habits are interrupted or not done, there’s a bad feeling looming in ourselves that can only be fixed by the return of that habit. Moreover, when the power’s out, our powers are also out. We’ve become so dependent to electricity–not that electricity is bad thing, because it’s favorable to the progress of human lives (duh), but that we become restless, helpless even, without it.

In times like this, we yearn for the normalcy, the comfort that we are used to, and this makes me think of all the others who can’t afford this comfort that we have. How do they survive?

When I was about to take a shower today, I switched on the light. I looked up and wondered why there wasn’t any light, and then it hit me, just like the other times I’ve tried to switch on the lights in the rooms for the past 24 hours: “Wala nga palang ilaw, tanga.”


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