Unplugged

Three weeks ago, a devastating calamity has yet again hit the country, affecting fellow Filipinos from the northern region, including Manila. Typhoon Rammasun (Typhoon Glenda in the Philippines) had been all over the news, 48 hours before its landfall, warning everyone of its impending destruction. It had been only a little over nine months since Typhoon Haiyan (Typhoon Yolanda) left a lot of our countrymen in Tacloban, Leyte [and neighboring cities] homeless and grieving over the loss of friends and loved ones. It’s unbearable and heartbreaking to even imagine how survivors could take another wrecking calamity as strong as the last one.

My brother and I were on a mid-day work shift the whole month of July. Though we both agreed that neither of us render overtime work while we’re on the same schedule, we had been eager to leave the office as soon as our shift ended on Tuesday night due to typhoon warnings sent via company email blast. Good thing it wasn’t raining when we left, making our drive home faster than the usual. While we were watching late-night news (we usually arrive between 11 to 11:30PM), Dad and I noticed how still the surroundings had become—the calm before the storm.

I went to bed at midnight, and fell asleep right away. Several hours later, I woke up to the howling sound of the wind accompanied by heavy downpour. I instantly grabbed my phone to check the time—it was 2:30AM—and the power was out. My bedroom windows were open; I didn’t need air-conditioning during the rainy season because it’s usually cooler at night. It was pitch-dark. I tried to ignore the disturbing sound, but it got worse by the minute. I didn’t want to arise from the bed either, so I tried to get back to sleep. The next thing I knew, I was awaken by Dad barging into my bedroom with a flashlight. He checked the garage roof next to my room as well as the ceiling to ensure that water wasn’t seeping through nor dripping from the rainstorm. For hours, I heard several things at once—objects falling, glass breaking, loose roofs flying, trees groaning. I could not bring myself to peek through my window, and witness these with my own eyes. It was scary.

There had been a nationwide power outage due to the strong gust of wind. Electricity went out during the wee hours of Wednesday, but we didn’t get it back until Saturday afternoon. It was bearable during daytime because I was at work, but it was tough during the night. 

The situation took me back to a time in the early 90s when the government used to implement a rotation of scheduled power outage nationwide. My parents were always prepared. During those times, they stocked up on candles, batteries, and easy-to-cook food. We ate dinner over candle lights and make-shift electric fan powered by a car battery (Dad’s DIY project) while listening to news on AM radio. Once all chores were completed, we’d all prop against the bed, and just talk. Well, Mom and Dad did most of the talking. My brothers and I were too young to even understand what they were discussing, but we simply listened. Mom would relentlessly wave a fan towards us to cool ourselves, eventually allowing us to fall asleep. Even in the dark, it felt safe in the arms of my parents.

In this age and time, a lot of things has changed and continue to change. On the first night of blackout, my brothers and I watched movies on our iPads, hoping power would be restored by midnight. Our mobile phones were pretty useless because batteries were draining out quickly, and network reception was very poor. We talked and laughed our brains out until we’re all beat and hardly able to keep one’s eyes open. It felt like being in the early 90s again, except we had all grown-up.

I wrote this in my journal with a candle lit by my side; a pilgrimage to a distant past. Life is simpler this way, and more meaningful. It may sound weird—even hypocritical—to be thankful for this mishap, a blessing in disguise. We don’t get this much quality time to talk, to reflect on what matters most in life nowadays, because we’ve gotten used to being connected to the world, 24/7. I value my relationship and how much time I could spend with my family especially now, more than ever, that I’m closer to moving out and away. I’m glad this happened, but most importantly, I’m grateful that we’re safe.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *