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.