Monday, April 21, 2008

And The Lights All Went Out . . .

At exactly 6 AM Sunday, the world stopped for our part of the city, with no electric power for the next 12 hours. This fortuitous event coming without benefit of any prior notice or warning. As is typical I am told, it just happens.

While 6AM may not be the time to start worrying about heat, nevertheless Mr. Sol wasted no time and began exerting its excruciating dominance by the time 8AM rolled in. No problem because I did not have to stay long inside a powerless house. I was set to accompany a couple of young electricians who might be commissioned to finalize the electrical connections to a couple of storeys of a building.

But getting back to the house after that abbreviated chore, it was not long when I started to dribble off sweat from my head, face, and body, even while sitting outdoors to try to cool off. No respite from the quickly sweltering heat. So decided to head on to the mall with a most convenient pretext. I needed new batteries for my camera. The cool ambiance of the mall was such a welcomed delight. Bought the batteries and a few other grocery items all designed to blunt the effects of the heat, like soda, all 3 big plastic bottles of them.

But there are only so much of the mall environs that I can tolerably sustain. Big crowds of total strangers, high-decibel noise, and overall dizziness in the atmosphere tend to bring on ennui for me very quickly. So before long I was out of there, heading where else but home. Had to deposit the groceries.

Again, a few minutes inside the “toaster oven” and heat-precipitated wanderlust had set in. So off I went, getting some immediate relief in the truck’s cooling system.

Bought some clay planters and had them loaded on the truck bed, then I was chugging away toward the city’s main market, Cogon Market, housed in a relatively new building. So crawled to an almost stop around its perimeter and took some quick shots while driving. That’s one of the “beauties” of driving around here – you can go as slow as you want, straddle between lanes, and literally stop in the middle of the road for some errands, like taking pictures.

Having parked in a safe place with my trusty camera case slung tight around my shoulder and positioned for a quick draw, this soldier was ready to walk for some breezy place, to the city’s main cathedral which sits imposingly from a distance on a hilly bend of the river, elevated from the river by at least 10 meters. But what confronted me was not what I had expected – not throngs and throngs of people spilling out into the huge park outside the church, clusters of them milling around the tennis courts situated on the street leading straight to the entrance of the cathedral. And still a lot more gathered around all sides of the church, though many in a festive or a day in the park kind of mood most of these people were actually attending the Mass services in progress inside. But by looking at the pictures one would not get the holy impression that the people were here to attend Sunday church services. So are Filipinos by nature religiously inclined? Looking and judging by the crowds one would think so.

Big crowds of strangers, disturbing high-decibel noise, and overall dizziness in the atmosphere, all but prodded me again to move on after taking the shots. And after all the 12 hours of power disruption was almost done. I should be getting home for some air-conditioned rest and comfort. And indeed this entry is written with no more traces of the aggravation this day heaped upon me.

The Almighty sure works wonders, reminding one of the wisdom of “this too will pass”.