Earth Hour

Friday, June 27, 2008

Typhoon Frank

It was almost a week ago when Typhoon Frank (international code named: Fengshen) visited our country. It was sunday morning and I woke up with my room dark and the wind pounding on my closed windows. The rain was noisily pouring outside.

There was no electricity and it was also dark inside the house. I managed to have breakfast with only the candles providing additional illumination.

I was out of touch for sometime. No TV, no radio, and no Internet. Luckily the mobile phones were still working so I could exchange SMS with my parents and brother.

Electric power returned by midday but there was no cable TV. My source of information was the Internet. I was able to track the path of the typhoon and found out that it would pass by area late in the afternoon.

By mid afternoon, the worst of the typhoon was upon us. Winds buffeted the trees in the yard, tearing off some the branches. A bird's nest fell from one of the trees, the poor little chicks died when they hit the concrete.

Surprisingly, the electric power didn't go off. Cable TV was even restored even as the typhoon unleashes its fury on our area. After a couple of hours, the winds and rains calmed down.

TV news started broadcasting all the horrific images of devastation in the other provinces of the country. Scores died in the wake of the typhoon. Near where I was at, there was a news of a couple getting electrocuted because floodwaters reached their electrical outlets before they got to higher grounds.

The worst story was that of the ship that capsized in the middle of the typhoon due to huge waves hitting it. Some 800 souls were aboard that ship and only it was only the day after that reports of survivors, only 20 at first and now 50, came out.

The name Frank has just been removed from the list of typhoon names in the country because of its strength and the devastation it wrought.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Taxi Drivers

I take the taxi everyday to work. It's not because I wanted to but because I have to so that I won't be late for work. It's additional cost on my part but at least I get to work on time. Aside from that I don't have to take at least two jeepney rides to reach the workplace.

It's so convenient. I just get in the cab, tell the driver where to go and I could sit back and relax as my cab goes through the early morning rush hour.

Filipino taxi drivers are a class of their own. They are proud of what they can do with their taxis. If you tell them you need to get to a place pronto, they'll go through all sorts of places to avoid the notorious Manila traffic jams so you could reach your destination at the time you wanted to with more minutes to spare to fix your hair.

Just this morning, I had an experience wsith what could be a cab driver from hell. I was running late for an appointment and I didn't want to keep my colleagues waiting. So I got into his taxi and told him to get me to Makati by all means. Boy did he take my word seriously. If it weren't against the law, he could have ran over half of the traffic aides in the road. He was cutting here and there; if he saw space between two cars, he took advantage of it to put his taxi ahead of everybody. When we reached our destination, he was sneering at me as if he won a gold medal in the olympics. I must have been so shaken that when the people I was supposed to meet saw me, they all said that I looked like I saw a ghost.

Another characteristic of a Filipino taxi driver I find amusing is that they are very opinionated. With only the radio as their company almost the whole day, most them are up-to-date with the current events in the country. Do you think they passively listen to the radio? You are dead wrong. Don't get them started and they would give their take on all issues: from the rice shortage, to the different crimes in the country, up to the performance of the President. Name it, and they know a thing or two about these issues. They could be wrong at times, but the fact that they know about these issues is certainly impressive.

Then there are taxi drivers who choose to be silent throughout the trip. They'll just drive you to your destination and when you get there, they'll take your payment, thank you and off they go.

My most memorable taxi ride was the one I took with a good friend. In the middle of our trip, Mr. Taxi Driver started pouring his heart out, telling us about how he was left by his wife (actually a live-in partner). The woman ran away with his best friend and left him with their children, and dig this HER children to take care of. He was thinking of just driving the taxi off a bridge to end it all. My companion talked to him, giving him advice about how important it is to live and, with the help of God things would just come to pass and get better. I just silently listened to their exchange, half amused and half afraid that he would drive his taxi off a bridge or a fly-over with us onboard.

What would my commute be without the taxi? It would be boring I think. That's why I cheer the Filipino taxi driver for making life a bit more interesting.