Friday, June 21, 2024

The Darkness of Pablo


By Jaizer Jim R. Nadal

There is an unlikely order  to things that every  devastating event seems to  adhere to. Too often have  we seen great destruction dwarfed by  restoration. Storms have the tendency  to uproot trees, adorning the streets  with branches in their wake. These  same streets are swept clean by soand-so the next day, as if nothing  happened. Such is the case with  a number of calamities that have  transpired these past few months. Just  recently, a ferry was stranded a few  meters off the shore of the pantalan.  Days after the rescue, its metal bow  continues to muck the water with  rust, a harrowing reminder of the  cruelties of wind.

To witness these anomalies in  nature is a strange honor. It is quite  extraordinary to see the earth cave  in on itself as you’re sipping a fresh  brew in Bo’s Coffee or what have  you. All the while, caffeine junkies  pull out their IPads and tweet about  “the big storm.” But that is neither  here nor there. The only thing more  outrageous than the price of coffee in  Bo’s is how phenomenally dangerous  it would be to be in there while Pablo  was demolishing the boulevard. In  which case, the image of raining cats  and dogs wouldn’t require a stretch of  the imagination. Simply put, a storm  like that was of biblical proportions.

It seems that storms are a trending  plague these days. Dumaguetenos  were still hung-over from the sting of  Sendong when this new catastrophe  decided to nose its way in. Yet  another souvenir from that previous  unwelcome visitor was the sunken  ferry that decorated the shores in  front of the Chinese Temple. As  evidence of rebirth in the aftermath of  turmoil is how the locals transformed  this piece of wreckage into a venue for  recreation. A month after Sendong,  kids were swan-diving off the deck  of the ship. Meanwhile, fragments  of houses were washed off the shore  of the boulevard. Former residents  rummage through sand and coral  like vultures picking on dead meat.  But instead of carcasses, these were  homes. Heavy with life, or once was.  Dead all the same.

There was a hefty amount of  hysteria going around at the time.  Wind speed was expected to be twice  as strong as that of Sendong. And this  was a typhoon, mind you. “I stocked  up on supplies,” says Sam Belarga  when asked about his initial reaction  to the news. He is a resident of  KrossKat, a dormitory that is peculiar  in the sense that the cafeteria doesn’t  serve them food. “I got canned food,  pancit canton, a few bags of chips.  Just enough to get me through at  least two days.” A form was released  concerning dormitory residents and  certain precautions that should be  taken. This included evacuating  the dormitories and requesting the  students to sleep in groups. Silliman  also offered sanctuary for 50 families  who were evacuated from flood prone  areas.

Electricity was scarce. It was like  a scene from an old-timey film reel.  Candle light spilled from windows  of Spanish homes. Occasionally, a  kalesa would pass by and it almost  seemed surreal. Not that this was a  particularly good thing. It spelled  a great many complaints from the  locals. In a world where the majority  of our waking life is dictated by  something as trivial as an ATM,  one can’t afford a lapse in resources.  Apparently, a tree was entangled in  one of the main wires which provide  power to the entire city. Such an  inglorious mess of bark and metal  caused a week’s worth of horrendous  generator buzz. Despite NORECO’s  extended efforts, progress came slow.

In consideration for the safety of  the students, classes were suspended.  This ran from primary school to  the colleges. Dormitories such as  KrossKat discouraged residents from  going outside. “I spent most of the day  texting my family and friends,” says  Beau Lagua, a student. He is a native  of Bukidnon, yet another area that  was affected heavily by Pablo. It is  included in a roster of areas that had a  storm signal no. 3. Beau’s sentiment is  a mutual reaction among the students  in response to the event. Specifically  for students from Surigao del Sur,  Davao Oriental, and Compostella  Valley which were most affected by  the typhoon. “Thankfully they were  all safe,” continues Beau. “In times  like this, that’s all you can hope for.”

As of late, and due to a succession  of earth shattering episodes,  Dumaguete’s shoreline has  transformed into a bizarre expose  of the consequences of natural  calamities. Aside from the ferries and  whatnot, the pantalan is still anchored  to the boulevard. As of now, it serves  as a tambayan for some of the locals  by day and roof for the homeless by  night. The carnage probably wasn’t  as sensational when juxtaposed with  other parts of the Philippines. To put  this typhoon in scope, the death toll  rose to over 300 and three areas were  declared to be in a state of calamity.  Although an online article on the  aftermath in our city left a much  more disquieting aftertaste to the  reader. “Pablo plunged Dumaguete  in darkness amid strong, relentless  rain in the city, which left an 11-year  old boy dead.” A city weeps for one  soul.


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