Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Flood of 91

It was raining that morning. We wanted to visit our house in Cainta to check out its' construction.

We took my grandfather's jeep.

It was the type the military uses, but was red and had an off-white tarpaulin top.

Dad usually takes freeway EDSA to get there, but he anticipated the traffic because of rain and decided to take another route.

My two brothers and I sat at the back and my dad drove while talking to my mom about the construction.

Soon we found ourself in a two way street with the road ahead knee-deep in water. Its been raining for a few days now so this wasn't out of the ordinary.

There were small apartment houses lining both sides and you could see that the water has crept in some of the doorsteps.

But this wasn't deep. I've seen worse. Like waist-high floods. The jeep shouldn't have problems getting through this.

My dad switched to a lower gear and drove the jeep slowly through the water.

I loved it when the jeep cruised through the floods. You can hear the engine murmur through the water. It kinda feels like you're in a boat.

We drove a few metres. The jeep coughed but continued on.

Looking further down, we could see that the road ahead was long. The water would get deeper because the stranded vehicles further away were more submerged. It would have been very risky to plow through.

The nearby Shell station was dirty and run down. It had two pumps and you can barely make out the yellow and red colours from the diesel stains everywhere.

But the station was five feet above the road so it was a perfect safe place to wait for the flood to subside.

My dad drove the jeep up unto the station and parked so we overlooked the street.

And then we waited.

Rain, rain, rain.

Wait, wait, wait.

It wasn't very windy. But the air was shivering cold.

The fat monsoon rain was getting heavier.

We talked about all sorts of things and watched more cars get stranded in the flood. We waited patiently.

Then the waters started rising. And it was rising quickly.

The cars stranded on the road were now submerged to their side mirrors. And the rain continued to pour.

The water kept rising.

We sat there intently watching.

Soon the flood waters had risen to the level of the gas station and waters were now touching the jeep again. The cars in front were completely submerged and can be barely made out through the polluted water.

It kept on raining. We were starting to worry. We were about five feet above the street, surely the waters can't keep on rising!

It kept raining and raining.

My parents were arguing on what we needed to do. We could continue to wait in the jeep or we could try and get to higher grounds.

It kept raining, and it was getting stronger.

The water kept rising and rising.

I was silently praying in my head.

Then the waters started getting inside the jeep.

That was the trigger for us to get our quickly. My parents hopped out and we all moved to the front before jumping into the water.

I remember jumping out and being surprised on how deep the water was. It would touch my elbows if I had my arms straight.

My mom held on to me and my older brother.

I remember holding on to her waist tightly. We desperately tried to walk across the murky waters. My dad followed behind with my younger brother.

The water was so cold and the rain was making it really hard to see. The ground was also uneven and you could see the petrol and fuel mixed with waters.

With the help of a few strangers, we were guided up to the steps leading to an employee quarters, the upper floor of the gas station.

Maybe it was only four minutes or five minutes that we were in the water, but looking back at the jeep, I realise how fast the water had risen. The water was now in level with the seats of our jeep.

We were stranded in the small employee room with some other families. The family that lived there didn't look like they had much.

Their clothes were grey and dirty and there was little furniture in the room. But they were very kind and offered us their food.

The next hour saw the water continuing to rise.
Some have started praying. And we joined soon after. We all prayed for our lives.

I remember hearing screams of onlookers watching a desperate civilian swim to safety against the flood torrent. It was all very scary.

I'll never forget seeing our jeep submerged under the flood waters. All you could see was the white rooftop.

Then rains eventually stopped.

The flood rose to maybe six or so steps of the employee quarters before it started to subside.

We saw a few government officers drive by on boats. The national rescue service maybe.

It was already six in the evening before we saw our vehicle again.

And it would be another four hours before we finally get home. Safe at last.

1 September 1990

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Book Review: Blink

I’ve finally finished my book! So proud of myself.

My new year's resolution was to read one book! Now I've finished three!

Ok.

Fine.

Maybe my goals are set at low - at least i'm an over achiever :P

But seriously , I thoroughly enjoyed reading: Blink - The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

I picked up this paperback from Borders. I had no clue what a good book was so I scooted over to the best seller shelf. Surely the millions of readers of these books couldn't be all wrong.

Oddly, of all titles there, Blink had something that appealed to me.

Maybe it was the simplicity of the cover, the baby blue and pink fonts or the catchy title. There was something about this book that drew me and I couldn't figure it out.

And that was precisely what the book was about!

Malcolm Gladwell explains why we behave in such ways during the first few seconds when doing something.

It could be when we meet someone or taste something or drive a new car. He claims our brains have already gone through lots of processing and decisions have already been made - and we didn't even know it!

He explains that our instinctive first reaction is right….. most of the time.

We just need to be aware of our limitations and the pitfalls of prejudice and discrimination.

As a demonstration - sit by a busy street and look at the faces of the people passing by. You’ll only need one second to decide if someone is attractive or not. In that one second your brain has already analysed so much about that person - the eyes, hair, freckles, nose rings, spacial features. Yet it will take you a little while longer to 'consciously' notice all the features you dislike.

Heres another example. You're out shopping and someone presents you a shirt or top. Straight away you say - 'nope' i don't like it. Then they say 'how come?' ONLY then do you consciously have to think about why you don't like it.

And not just that.

You know sometimes when you get this awful feeling that something is wrong. Like you’re driving away from the house and you get this nagging feeling that something is not right.

The unaccessible super computer part of your brain that does clockwork, routine calculations is saying "hang on, wait a minute.... somethings amiss here. Based on what I know and experience, there's suppose to be something here... .... "

You weren’t thinking about things that you forgot, but there was just that nagging feeling.

Something in you was thinking about what you just did.
So you were thinking without thinking.

Only then do you realise that you forgot to wear underwear.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Beach Mosaic

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

One Two Three Four 5-6-07

Been celebrating my birthday for four days now. Been eating heaps. None of it healthy. But in my defence, I'm planning to jump into an exercise regime that will whip me back to shape.

And my birthday IS a once a year thing. I guess its okay to treat yourself to trans-fatty foods once in a while… even if it’s a few days.

A few weeks back, my friends asked me what I wanted for my birthday.

The guitar I bought from Cebu was falling apart. The bridge looks to be popping out, just like the tunning pegs. When you strum, the strings rattle on the fret board which makes for a horrible guitar to play (not to mention dangerous!).

So for my birthday I wished for a new guitar.

My good friends gave me three.

The best is the Legend acoustic with electronics. Lets me plug it in to my laptop. Now I can happily play Kumbaya and other gospel songs and record it too!

The other was a pink yukalele for fun. It sits in my room next to a pink box they gave me last year for my birthday.

One year ago.

Its amazing how much time has passed.

So much has changed, but the things that I wanted to change, have hardly changed at all. And again, I’m just plodding along because that’s the only thing I know I can do.

Amongst celebration this year came the sad news that my dad needs to have an operation.

Calcite deposits are compressing on C5-C6 nerves causing uncomfortable sensations in his foot. Its not a life critical operation, but an operation nonetheless. Its something you don’t want your loved ones to have to go through.

My brother said it’s a degenerative thing, and is not uncommon.. part of getting older he says.

Two people have asked me this year if I feel any wiser.

I believe we get wiser every day with what we do and see and what we experience. So I do believe I'm wiser.

And three guitars richer.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Blind Date (Part 2 of 3)

The 4WD parked at the side of the road. The street was lined with houses all fronting solid iron gates. The dim orange streetlights revealed a few other cars parked by the side of the road, but the street was mostly deserted.

My cousin whispered something to Anne before she disembarked. It must have been a private joke because she giggled on her way out. My cousin and I just sat there in silence listening to the murmur of the engine. He seemed pretty happy, grinning by himself.

Anne went to a gate and pressed a button. I didn’t hear a bell, but something startled the dogs behind the forbidding gate. Their barks echoing with other dogs down the street.

A few moments later a smaller door appeared on the metal gate and a girl stepped out.

She was wearing a tight black top and jeans. Her hair wavy and left untied. She gave Anne a quick hug before both made their way to the car.

"Hi!" she smiled warmly as she jumped on the 4WD. She took the seat next to mine.
"Hi!’ I smiled back'

So this is Kat.

Hmm.
I see.
There and then.
I knew.

She’s not my type.

'Uyy Kamusta ka na?! (Hey, how you've been?)" Kat cheered to my cousin in the front seat.

Kat looked excited and happy to be out. It seemed that Kat, my cousin and Anne haven't seen each other for a long time. They reminisced about college days and caught up on gossip.

I didn't say much. I didn’t know what or who they were talking about. All I could do was listen in on the conversation and smile pretentiously.

We arrived at a little restaurant-bar in the corner of a city block. There were posters outside of the band we were going to see.

The restaurant had a very browny-orange rusty theme going on. Orange walls with mocha brown leather seats. There were many small tables for two in the middle. Larger booths by the walls.

We were seated in a diner-style booth with Kat sitting next to me and my cousin and partner sitting in front. Our booth was next to the big window pane overlooking the city street. We were the furthest from the stage but still had a good view.

I remember feeling over dressed for the occasion. Everyone was wearing jeans and I was wearing brown pants. They had sneakers to my brown leather shoes and T-shirts to my ironed crisp and blindingly white shirt. I felt more awkward now because it was much brighter in the restaurant.

But with the better lighting, gave me better glances of Kat.

She seems friendly enough. She’s very comfortable with my cousin and Anne. And she’s kinda attractive... I think… It’s just that she was VERY different from the photo.

All those pimples weren’t in the picture.

Then again the picture was two years old. And it was in black and white... and its brightness adjusted to make it a very white photo. I thought it was just fading. Maybe the photo was purposely faded?

But even in the photo. There were no sparks or anything like that when I saw Kat.
I thought maybe if I saw this person, in person, then maybe something would happen.

But nothing did.

The band started. A thirty something singer sang jazzy love songs accompanied by guitar, bass, keyboard and drums. She sounded great. And looked great too. In fact I was more interested in her that the person next to me. Blame it on singer’s thick red lipstick and saucy singing.

During the first set break we ordered drinks and we all talked briefly. I finally got to do my part spoke to Kat.
"yes.. there are lots of kangaroos in Australia, I actually catch one to work.."
I asked her what kind of music she liked. She said Incubus, Incubus, Incubus. Incubus is her life.

Hmmm great, an emo.
But it dawned to me that my cousin was passionate about Incubus too.
Maybe that’s why my cousin speaks with so much animation when he talks about Kat.