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Sep 30

Long march to freedom

For once, the Presidents impatience is healthy. Day three that the neighborhood’s had no power. Elevator finally providing limited service as of yesterday. General grumbling among residents until the elevator service resumed. I believe some residents decamped rather than keep taking a long march to freedom every day.

Here’s a sociological question. They say affordable TV’s for the masses results in lowering the birthrate. Does it just apply to the masses? Will there be a spike in the number of babies born nine months from now? And what about apartments that have generators, so lights for all, though not necessarily TV for all, since cable systems may be down (but you can watch DVD, I guess) – but not enough generator power for hot water? Do the cold showers have an effect on people or does the TV trump that?

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The neighboring apartment complex has a menacingly World War II IG Farben style diesel plant with a correspondingly sinister smokestack belching thick, black smoke. Most unpleasant and by mid-afternoon one tends to feel vaguely oxygen-starved. The chicken inasal place (GI-sheet covered sheds to left of neighboring building) had intrepid staff rescuing tables and other equipment at the height of the typhoon: they were smoothly in operation by Thursday night.

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Looking to Makati City yesterday afternoon. At night, Makati is an oasis of light -from the high rises, though the rest of the city still looks grim. Not all commercial areas back in operation. Last night, traffic choked Greenhills but many places were closed; heard Morato was worse off. Diners and servers all looking haggard. Too much cabin fever going around.

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Looking to Manila yesterday afternoon. Neighborhood nunnery (with white dome) has a wrecked garden. Manila looking pretty gloomy.

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At night high-rise buildings -including the one I live in- seem to mock the low-rise neighbors (though the most notable “up yours” has to be the Rockwell complex as immortalized in Inq7.net). Incidentally, the enterprising photographer who took this photo could probably make a mint from turning this photo into a postcard. Class war-oriented grumbling overheard from people last night: “of course, GMA7 and ABS-CBN have power but none of their neighbors do” and “Go figure, the Lopez development in Rockwell always had power while everyone’s waiting for theirs,” etc.

Flickr has some remarkable photos:

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There’s structural damage that ought not to have occurred, period, as Madame Chiang’s observed.

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And the toppling over of so many trees, one friend theorized, is that during road widening and other construction, builders tend to cut too close to the roots. Which means old trees have been shorn of over half their root network on average. The carnage when it comes to trees in major developments like Rockwell and official worries in Makati won’t mean a thing if old trees are doomed by cutting around their roots. In the New Manila area of Quezon City, where you have -had- many fine old trees, there’s been road widening over the years and as my friend pointed out, it’s no coincidence that trees toppled over along these roads and in areas with new construction.

More dead tree photos from baratillo@cubao. The PCIJ blog focuses on the billboard issue. caffeine sparks asks why draining remains a problem in cities like Manila.

A Nagueño in the Blogosphere here and here with photos and updates on Naga City in the aftermath of the typhoon.

A poignant vignette from Altar of the High Priest, on the enthronement of La Naval de Manila in the dark.

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  1. cvj

    The inq7.net photo is postcard-pretty because of what it conceals. It’s an apt visual metaphor for the proposed Constitution.

  2. leah

    only the Lopez cable system was down; Dream worked fine, as did Destiny. and probably most of the smaller cable companies also worked ok.

  3. nonongg

    manolo,
    the worst one i remember was Yoling…(1972?) ..the central luzon floods..and our ROTC civic action in Pampanga…. and the Martial Law that followed.. Marcos also got impatient….

  4. Aaron DeLay

    Hey sir!

    ABS/CBN has had power all through the storm with the exception of yesterday for a few hours when everything with the generators went haywire. My apartment is on Panay Ave, within spitting distance of the building where I work…and I still have no power/water. I don’t know when we’ll be back up and running but I hope its soon. Hot humidity and lack of air con can make it hard to sleep sometimes.

    I’m an ex-pat so I’m trying to be patient and accepting. I don’t want to appear like a “diva” and get all whiny. I’ve learned to say, “What will be will be” and “life goes on” through this whole thing. Thankfully our call center has facilities I can use to shower and I could actually use the excercise of walking from my apartment to the center. Here’s hoping others are doing as well as I appear to be.

  5. taipan88

    Samantala sa ibang bahagi ng MetroManila kung nasaan yung bahay ko, wala pa raw kuryente…. Buti na lang may land lines na. I was able to call my kins and asked kung nakatayo pa ang bahay ko, after Milenyo.
    Gosh! Ilang araw na, wala pa ring basic services! Marami pa raw kalat sa EDSA, including those billboards!
    They MUST ban those giant billboards! Nakakasira na ng landscape, nakakamatay pa! Look at what happened!

  6. toots ople

    how bizarre — death by billboard!

  7. john marzan

    “For once, the Presidents impatience is healthy. Day three that the neighborhood’s had no power.”

    word, manuel. dapat magalit si maam tungkol dito. so kailan ba magkakaroon ng ilaw sa amin, meralco? parang FEMA naman ang kilos niyo. Where’s Brownie?

  8. mlq3

    electricty just came back here! hoorah!

  9. Aaron DeLay

    Manuel,

    Lucky! Glad you got it back!

  10. Boyspacefriend

    Manuel, dozens of the old trees in the UP Diliman campus got ripped out as well. While new construction may have contributed to some of the uprooting, I tend to think it’s mostly Milenyo’s fury to blame.

  11. Jon Mariano

    It’s interesting that nobody was injured or electrocuted with all those wires hanging! Nobody still looking at how these wires be put underground?

    Oh well, nobody got electrocuted because there was no electricity! (Silly me!).

  12. Carl

    Milenyo wasn’t even a supertyphoon. From what media stated, winds were 160 kph at their peak. That would be about 100 mph. The only reason it created so much havoc was because it made a direct hit on Metro Manila. What if Manila were hit by a Katrina-sized typhoon? Winds of 180 mph, almost double that of Milenyo? What if rains were stronger and lasted longer? These are all real possibilities. If global warming were to get worse, we can see a disaster waiting to happen.

  13. elinca

    You’re right, Carl. Milenyo seems trivial compared to Katrina–Katrina with 2,000 lives lost and $105 billion projected for repairs and reconstruction. This does not include economic losses (jobs, rise in oil prices, etc.). Because of the costs to taxpayers (the whole U.S, will shoulder the costs), some people just want to condemn the City of New Orleans (city of jazz!! great architecture, Mardi Gras!!), which they say is not worth salvaging. Greater Manila, of course, is in much worse situation because of the usual reasons: slow response, government apathy, no money for repairs, etc.

    Well, there’s always the World Bank to borrown money from……

  14. Tony

    I hope the lovey-dovey’s had protection when they turned to coitus instead of the TV for entertainment, otherwise, come December(first trimester) there will be a higher demand for cytotec and “special manghihilot” services.

  15. eric

    Greetings Manoilo!

    Rockwell never lost its power? Come to think of it, that used to be a power plant 🙂 We only got our power back last night at 9pm. I’m an expat and instead of bitching and comparing the local infrastructure to that of NYC, I compared it to Manila living during the 19th century and guess what, life suddenly became manageable (will compose a blog entry about it). Also got a chance to finish reading all, except one, of those purchases made during the last book fair. Nonetheless, glad to have the electricity back, though it’s more expensive here than in NYC. Why? Is it imported? Enjoy your Sunday!

  16. Carl

    elinca said: “Greater Manila, of course, is in much worse situation because of the usual reasons: slow response, government apathy, no money for repairs, etc.”

    May I add the dreadful drainage conditions and outright obstruction of outlets and canals, scant implementation of building standards, dearth of “green” zones or areas, chaotic urban growth? You name it, almost all the ingredients for a major catastrophe are there.

  17. Sidney

    I got electricity back this morning at 4 am. Running water too… I started to smell like a pig!
    Yes, I think we can look forward to some more babies next year!
    Too bad my wife was in Bikol and not at hom … 😉

  18. vic

    This beg the question, do the civil authorities have any contingency plans for such emergencies? Or they just pick up after the pieces after every disaster, natural or man-made? We had experienced worst typhoons and stronger winds than the 160 km/hr. Hundred of toppled trees and flooding of few thoroughfares, but in every instances emergency workers were out and be able to return power and water and basic services in a matter of time, without our politicians screaming or posturing, but mostly the job of civic employees, they people who knew. Glad to know my own residence in Brookside just a few inches of turning ‘indoor swimmming pool’ was spared any damage and withstood the fury, but everytime this happen, you expect something worse. Rain water has nowhere to go.

  19. Tony

    Sidney… those are great black-and-white pictures. What camera do you have? I gotta hand it to you. It takes more than a good eye; tsamba-tsamba does not really work. Reading the manual can only get one so far, the path to excellence requires effort, more effort, skill, practice, and more effort.

  20. realistic

    Typhoon or not, pinoys are great in making babies. With typhoons, however, the middle to upper class gets to have a go at it more than the poor. What with the roof leaking, blown away by high winds, flood waters up to the waist, etc., the poor just don’t have the time to do it. They are just to busy to survive to indulge in earthly pleasures. Alas, even with the wrath of nature there is discrimination.

  21. Aaron DeLay

    Am I allowed to laugh? I feel very dirty doing so, but there was a chuckle coming out…but I stopped it.

  22. sabbath

    The fallen trees litter the streets of UP Diliman. It’s a sad sight… It is so hard to grow trees…yet a single howling of a super typhoon can bring them down like twigs snapping in the wind, just like that.

  23. Aaron DeLay

    Sabbath,

    In the states at Yellowstone National Park there was a terrible forest fire years ago and it was equally haunting in regards to the trees. There’s something about seeing the power of mother nature and how the Earth herself suffers for it.

    I could start singing, “The Circle of Life” but that would be really reaaaaly weird.

  24. Paeng

    ang mas matinding tanong e bakit minarkahan ng absent ng mga companies yung mga empleyado nila na hidni pumasok nung Friday? wala na ngang kuryente, halos state of calamity na ang Metro Manila, tapos mamarkahan kang absent pag di ka nakapasok?!

  25. Tony

    Paeng, Minarkahan silang absent dahil absent naman sila talaga. At hindi mo talaga naisip, pero kailangan iyan talaga (proper reporting) para sa insurance. [Pati gobyerno at World Health Organization, interesado sa tamang statistics.] Iba ang galaw kung nasakatan ang empleyado habang nasa opisina o kung nasaktan habang ang empleyado ay nasa kaniyang sariling bahay.

  26. realistic

    Tony, what you say is true. Many years ago when a big storm hit NYC, Wall Street companies sent out calls to employess saying, come to work, if you can. Those who came in were sent home anyway. Those who did not have to report themselves absent. Two days later, those who came in were given an extra personal day holiday.

    Guess what. The next time a storm hit attendance was up.

  27. Tony

    Realistic… here is a “cut-and-paste” from Columbia University/New York website. The policy is very much how it is done in the US:

    Absences During External Emergencies
    It is expected that regardless of the severity of a snow emergency, blizzard or other inclement weather situations—as well as other outside circumstances such as power failure, transportation breakdown or strikes—the academic and other buildings of the University will continue to be open and serviced. In such cases, all employees are expected to make a reasonable effort to arrive at work. While employees will not be penalized for arriving late, they will not receive pay if they are absent; however, they may charge such absence against earned vacation or floating holidays (personal days).

    And here is how US companies adjust to a multi-cultural workforce where some folks realy want to take a day off for Holy Thursday while others want a day off for Bodhi Day (Buddhist).

    Religious Holidays
    An employee who wishes to be absent from work for reasons of religious observance may, with approval, charge the absence to earned vacation or a personal day. Otherwise, the approved absence is considered an unpaid leave of absence.

  28. tbl

    the best solution that i can think of during calamities like this is to have a plan such that only those people included in the skeleton force, people needed for the minimal function of the entity/business, are obligated to be present. most business enetities such as hospitals, electric companies, security force, etc. have this plan and always have regular drills for its proper functions. the rest of the people not included are free to stay home and thus minimize the problems when they attempt to go to their work place. this organized plan is the reason why you may hear on overhead public system in big buildings warnings such as code blue, code red, code orange etc.

    the selection of emplyees who may be part of the skeleton force may depend on their expertise, on whether it is voluntary or by heiracy. the important thing is everyone in the orgnanization is aware of the plan and is ready to act when needed.

  29. nonongg

    tbl,
    you’re right. i hope the government have something like :

    “When Federal agencies are closed, most employees, except those designated as “emergency employees,” are excused from duty for the number of hours they were scheduled to work. In addition, agencies may also require “mission-critical” emergency employees to report for work.”

    http://www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/2003/2003-17a.asp

  30. Tony

    tbl… that level of planning is already in place for the federal, state/local governments, “regular” companies; the key personnel who need to show up regardless of bad road/etc know who they area. All other members of the company/organization check the news (by 5AM of the work day, and some times by as early as 9PM the night before, the local TV channels announce which offices [and schools] will be closed], or they check an office-phone-number which provides a recorded message. If an office has not declared itself closed, then everyone is expected to report for work. [Many embassies/UN organizations in WashDC simply specify that they will be closed if the Fed Government declares that it/fed-government will be cloed.]

  31. Tony

    On another item : if an emergency forces the closure of a facility and a person loses his job because there is no job to report to, the safety-net is “unemployment insurance”. Those who have this coverage apply to the state-office to obtain the benefits. In simple terms, the insured gets a few dollars (a percent of their take-home pay) to help them with expenses while they look for another job, and hopefully the newly-unemployed finds another job before he runs out of coverage. [Additional aid may be provided by the state- or federal government during extraordinary calamities like “Katrina”. The rule still is self-reliance/the government may not respond fast enough so you have to depend on yourself because the family you save will be your own.]

  32. realistic

    tony, I am sure that many here appreciate that information. Suffice it to say that it is always good to kanow exactly what company policy is regarding certain situations. Not many know and in certain cases good companies come up with incentives to motivate their employees.

    I am hopefull that many companies in the Phil. are of the same thought.

  33. fried-neurons

    LOL. Rockwell and the ultimate “up yours”. That’s exactly what I was thinking when I saw that pic.

  34. Joselu

    i hope meralco does better the next time.perhaps it’s time to make their system a lil bit more storm resistant. it seems that meralco has not been trimming trees that are encroching on their wires.i used to see them once upon a time doing more work.it’s strange but i went around after the storm & i can count w/ one hand the meralco people who where on the road.it seems that their emergency capacity is not in proportion to the area of their franchies. as if we are not a storm prone country that meralco is never prepared for a worst scenario.

  35. UP student

    Carl and Elinca…. Milenyo/Xangsane is a category-4 storm (213 kph winds) while Katrina (205kph) was Category-3. New Orleans suffered a lot more damage because the city is below sea-level AND the dikes were breached.

  36. tbl

    tony, we know that in usa this emergency plan is in placed at all levels and is being streamlined on a regular basis with at least yearly drill and revision, we do this in my place as mandated by law. however, we are discussing things in rp as an offshoot of melenyo’s devastation. they may have this at national down to barangay level but i am not sure about the individual companies.i hope they also have this and it just needs more publicity for everyone to be aware of.

  37. tbl

    to be in line with other discussions, i should say yearly AMENDMENTS and not revision…if something is to be upgraded or changed to conform with changing times in the enviroment, science or technology.

  38. anna de brux

    Philippines should perhaps check with Cuba’s disaster response… Gloria could have learned a thing or two from the Cubans.

  39. goggle

    Grande sito!!

  1. The Unlawyer » Xangsane: An Elephant of a Storm

    […] A commenter at Manuel Quezon III’s blog wonders – with no little horror I suspect – what would have happened to Metro Manila if a typhoon with the ferocity of a Hurricane Katrina slammed into it instead. […]

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