The new normal

 

 

I hope you and your families are safe and dry by now. That was a real nasty storm we had there. So much destruction and so many deaths. And it wasn’t even as strong as Milenyo 2006 or as wet as Ondoy 2009. This may be our new normal for September.

If you were with me on Twitter the night of typhoon Pedring, you’d know about my ordeal. We had no electricity for 28.5 hours. I was using Twitter to contact Meralco. When that wasn’t working, I whined in Facebook amongst my personal friends. Thanks to social media, I felt very connected. We were all trying to cope.

Please allow me to put things into perspective. Our house wasn’t affected by floods during Ondoy. Just the same, Pedring didn’t do any damage to us. We simply lost our electricity at 10am. We got it back at 2:30pm the next day. I know many people who got affected -my friends who lived near Manila Bay and worked at Sofitel. I got in touch with them right away.

I only started tweeting Meralco after they issued a statement saying they’d prioritize resumption of power in hospital service areas and those unaffected by floods (accessible). I figured we fell in that no-flood category. So I waited… for 28.5 hours. I had reported our situation to Meralco from the 4th hour and it went on and on and on. I didn’t sleep a wink. I watched the kids and fanned them all night.

On the 24th hour, I got through to a person in Meralco. By then 98% of power had been restored in the city. Ours was still out. Turns out our circuit wasn’t even listed as ones that went out during the storm. That’s why they didn’t come! A huge tree got in the way of one post, so only our street’s power went out. And despite the repeated reports from our street, it never got through to Meralco til after all the storm-related busted circuits were restored. So ya, that was pretty useless stress.

There is a reason I’m paranoid about brown outs and storms…

 


In 2006, I had to drive through the eye of the storm Milenyo. Trees were falling. Electric posts and lamp posts were swaying and crashing. Debris was flying everywhere. I was alone in my small car. I was driving myself. Terrified. But I still took pictures… by instinct.

 


Milenyo, 2006. I was shooting UZ that morning. We knew there was a storm coming but the show had to go on. The city was caught unprepared. We all underestimated the strength of the storm. We thought the storm would hit in the afternoon but it changed course and got to Manila the time I was out on the road at 11am. I can’t believe I survived this drive home all by myself. There were billboards and wires flailing all over the place. I really feared for my life.

 


Milenyo 2006. That night we used our old lamparas (oil lamps) as light. The wind was still and it was humid. Lily was just 2 months old then. No Stella yet. We had no power for 3 days. We moved to my cousin’s house to escape. But that one night in our house with no power, my baby got a cough and a cold.

 


Because of the storm and brown out, Lily got very sick. She developed pneumonia. At 2 months old. It was the scariest time of our life.

 

And that’s my perspective.

Every time I hear stories from families who lost so much from Ondoy, my heart breaks. I cannot fathom the pain, fear and resilience. I’ve seen homes with water marks to remind them how deep the flood was. I’ve met many children and infants affected by disaster. I’ve gone to relocation areas – the work continues and it never seems to end.

To my friend who felt so free to lecture me about perspective, I hope you get the message. While you struggled to save your luxury cars from water damage and worried about wifi, espresso and battery charging, I struggled to protect my three young children from possible illness due to these forces. Let’s not compare. Let’s not judge. It’s not about who had it worse or who had it “so light.”

God bless us all in this “new normal.”

My next post – a lifestyle survival guide to brown outs.

 

P.S. Thank you for the apology. It’s all forgotten.

 

 

 

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