I wrote this text on paper during the 2 weeks we had no power. When power came back – but intermittently – I had the chance to type this out. I am posting this here to remember what happened during those days after the typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan.
There is an account of our experience of the typhoon on my Crochet website at http://crochetology.net/2013/11/meet-yolanda/
Moonlight in the garden.
November 14, 2013 Thursday
There is no power for 24 hours now. This may be for the long term. At least there is intermittent running water. It seems that the municipal government has decided that the old generators that supply emergency rationed power to the various villages in our town should now only be used to run the pumps that distribute water to people’s homes. I did wonder if it as possible to have water during the day and power during the night. But I guess switching power channels are more complicated that that.
Anyway, without electricity, we have no news (from the internet) or or electronic communications and access to the outside world. The refrigerator serves as a cupboard for now.
Yesterday was Market Day so I got some vegetables, meat and fish. I have used half the meat to sit in a curing solution so it should keep for a while. The other half, I asked Penny to cook into “humba” which can keep for a week or so, when reheated at least once each day. When we had a 100-kilo pig butchered for fiesta 3 years ago, the humba kept for more than 3 months.
I brought two kilos of tulingan (tuna mackarel) to our neighbour Flor this morning. As promised, she cooked it into that delectable “inunun.” She cooks the fish whole, gutted and cleaned (although others prefer not to remove the intestines of the fish so that fish keeps its shape and doesn’t fall apart), and adds vinegar, salt and garlic. She doesn’t use ginger, which surprised me. By noon, we have a kilo of inunun and the other kilo I asked Flor to keep.
Lunch is humba, rice, inunun. It is like fiesta.
The problem now is lighting during the night. We have run out of kerosene for the most useful lamp that Rhon-Rhon and April gave us when we first settled here in Baclayon. I like that lamp and how brightly it shines. But now there is no kerosene and the shops have been cleaned out – everyone is buying kerosene, here and in Tagbilaran City. If we go to Tagbilaran tomorrow, we might be able to buy some candles if there are still any left.
In the meantime, we will try making some oil lamps. Penny is making coconut oil today. I remember when I was small, my mother made coconut oil too and she used the oil to keep a light at the altar.
To keep our vegetables fresh for longer, I set up a small pot-in-a-pot-refrigerator. We had only one medium sized clay pot – the other one is too small.
I read about the idea of a pot-in-a-pot-refrigerator when I was small. I think it was in one of the womens magazines that my aunt collected. It wasn’t really a clay pot in a clay pot but rather a pot with cloth that covered the inside and outside, placed inside another larger pot that was filled with water. The water permeated the cloth and evaporated, creating a cooling effect.
November 15, 2013 Friday
Exactly one month after the big earthquake, I got woken up at 2am today by a strng aftershock.
Trevor and I took courage again to try going to the city. We needed to get some money and ask about the power outage. So we are told that this will be for 45 days as the power plant in Leyte has been “totally destroyed” by typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan.
Lunch was at Shang Ma Nou, a single storey building of wood and concrete. A 2-storey concrete building nearby had cracks all over it. Looking around the city, it seems that there will be quite a number of condemned buildings.
After lunch we proceeded to Borja Hospital. Our cardio, Dr K Baluyot has transferred clinic to a new building nearby. I wonder if the buildings along the coast are safe. Rumour has it that there are may caves underneath along these areas, and a few kilometers away, a new faultline runs through the district of Dao and the Central Public Market. The City Hall Building in that district is one of the condemned buildings – it has cracks al over. It is a relatively new building but the damage reeks with shoddy architectural design and construction – definitely below building standards. Corruption, perhaps?
It was a quick visit to BQ Supermarket. I was able to get some candles – just small vigil candles since the larger ones have already been sold out. I also got some detergent, dishwashing liquid, two liters of milk for Trevor. I also got a half-kilo of sugar. Trevor got some peanut butter, jam, apple juice and tins of sardines. We ran up an enormous bill (more than PhP1,000 or US$25) on such non-essential items.
I got about US$350 of the US$500 that Christina sent to help people here after the quake and typhoon. She had earlier sent US$100 which I sent to Catigbi-an town, a place badly hit by the quake since the epicenter was in that area. It was Penny who personally brought the money there since she has family in that town. The recipients were Vic, Zeny (with 10 children) and Josie (with 2 children and a new baby). All their homes were partly ruined by the quake – collapsed hollow blocks walls, collapsed sections of roofs and collapsed inner walls respectively. The money at least allows them to buy some food or trapal (canvas) for temporary roofing when it rains. Luckily, their homes were not totally destroyed. If so, this would mean that they would have to live in makeshift tents out in the streets.
Of the US$350, I gave US$250 (about PhP10,000) to our Barangay captain Leah. She has identified two families here in our village whose houses were destroyed by the earthquake. It was actually Trevor’s idea to ask Leah to help us distribute the funds. Leah is the best person indeed because she is very close to the poor.
I have earlier told our neighbour Flor of some funds to help repair their house, which was weakened by the quake. I have allocated the remaining US$250 for this. Not knowing the amount, they proposed a large repair which cost over US$1,000. Initially, they didn’t want repairs done because they didn’t own the land they were living on. Apart from not having the funds, they were afraid of being thrown out of the property in the event the owners decide to sell. Indeed, it makes no sense building a concrete house on solid foundation using expensive materials if Flor and all 8 people in her house could be asked to leave at any time. But there are “squatters’ rights” but ultimately, the owner of the property could still ask them to leave.
So Flor came with the proposal that her daughter (who is perhaps the most well-off in her family) would buy a portion of our land where Flor and her family could settle. It was not possible, I told Flor, since our own property is for agriculture and cannot be anymore subdivided.
Before matters could get any more complicated, I went to Flor’s house and discussed with her the details of the repair of only the most critical sections of the house. We have identified a large beam of the roof that has been infested by termites and broke into pieces because of the quake. We have also included the bedroom – its walls have been eaten by termites and the flooring is in danger of falling apart. Their house was built in the 1990′s and some of the lumber used came from an even older house built in the 1970′s.
Because of budget constraints, it is not uncommon to see houses built from old and scrap materials. Some of the old materials may come from 50 to a hundred-year old houses which make such materials truly special. But of course, Flor’s house is not of the category of those ancestral homes.
Flor and I discussed the use of wood, and not concrete, since such materials can be dismantled and re-used if residents are forced to leave the property.
I have a new bill of materials now which I hope can be covered by US$250 plus labour. Otherwise, I may need to trim down further to only the essential repairs. Trevor said he could also add more to the budget to cover the labour.
Financial help seem to have triggered slight jealousies among Penny, Terry and Flor. Of course, Flor wanted to ave as much repairs done as possible unmindful of the limited budget. That was interpreted as “greedy opportunism” by others. Meanwhile, Trevor suspects Penny’s husband, Bebe, who was tasked to draw up the bill of materials, has been padding the list. Partly because if this, I learn to deal with the construction needs at home – I must learn to do all the measuring, estimation, canvassing. Bebe has a history of being dishonest with us – at least the times we have found out because we were extra nosey – and Penny’s daughter has certainly screwed Trevor of a padded PhP30,000.00 (or US$700) to pay for the last year of her college education. Trevor offered to help so as to ease Penny of the burden of looking for money everytime her daughter came asking.
The cat CD sitting on coconut lumber.
A few weeks earlier, we had 3 coconut trees cut down because they were so close to the house. After getting the permits, we had these trees cut into lumber and gave them to Penny to repair her own house. She also wants to make a new dirty kitchen. It was a lot of lumber so I told her not to sell them, especially knowing Bebe and her daughter and their obsession with money. Unless pressured by her husband and children, Penny does not obsess with money, which is why she is not miserably poor.
Nonetheless, I think that people here are generally honest and conscientious. It is also imperative that I get involved more in the socialisation of this community, as I continue to learn the Visayan language in its peculiar Boholano variant.
My mom’s first parcel after the earthquake.
November 16, 2013 Saturday
My mother’s parcel of powdered milk, coffee, brown rice and cheese (Edam cheese ball for Christmas!) arrived today. This is her second parcel. The first was several packets of coffee, rolled oats, instant oats with pecan nuts, raisins, and apple slices. Actually, 5 days after the earthquake, my mother sent a package of red rice, small packets of instant oats and a couple of t-shirts for Trevor.
My mom’s next parcel after the typhoon.
Trevor feels nearly embarrassed by these goodies that my mother keeps sending. But it is so heartwarming getting them and I think my mother enjoys hunting for these goodies and packing them together.
My mom’s next parcel after the power outage.
In the afternoon another parcel arrived. This time it came from my crochet friend Gerry in Cebu. In the package were 4 balls of yarn that she “spun” from several strands of sewing thread. They looked truly impressive and I look forward to using them!
There are also 5 large balls of cotton yarn on the table now. They are hand-dyed cotton from Crafty Kitten Paws, a purchase I made before the earthquake. This is only the installment of the full order so there are more arriving in a few weeks.
November 17, 2013 Sunday
With the power outage, Trevor is unable to work at the computer. It is also difficult to read or crochet at night with dim lighting. So we sleep early and wake up early, which is much better.
Late Sunday afternoon, our Barangay captain Leah arrived. It was really Trevor’s idea to talk to Leah about the upcoming Barangay elections and other matters. I personally prefer not to get involved in the political system since the social organisation seem sufficient to help those in need. I also don’t have the time, energy and not the courage to keep up with political happenings and challenges. I am not sure how Trevor feels about these things but I am quite happy interfacing with political matters on a more social level.
So it was Trevor’s suggestion to give to Leah the US$250 of the US$500 that Chris donated, it was a political-social gesture that I had not considered earlier. But yes, socially and personally, I feel comfortable (and perhaps even proud) that it is Leah who is administering the funds. Leah has a list of families needing help after the earthquake – she is very close and therefore very familiar with those who are poor.
Apart from the money that Chris donated, there was some money that Trevor gave to Leah as an “award” to two families we met earlier, some 5 years ago, living in a wooded area of the village. Trevor calls these awards “simple life award” as the money, about PhP500 (or some US$14.00) each, is intended to help and encourage the people who receive them. Trevor was fascinated by the simple bamboo and wood constructions of their homes, which they built themselves; and the cultivation of vegetables in small plots nearby. These settlements are impressively clean and well organised.
Last year, Trevor gave a similar award to an old woman who built a bamboo house down the road nearby. It as the “native house award.” After a year, the house and garden continue to flourish, and the woman who lives there greet us with a cheerful disposition. The award certainly surprised her! Now her garden has plenty of flowers now while vegetable cultivation continue to be difficult because of the poor condition of the rocky soil.
The amount in Trevor’s “awards” may not be much but these go a long long way. A lot of reconstruction and billions of dollars will be needed in cities and other areas where the general population is rich and the economic level is fairly high. But in poorer areas (like our village), we often need only very little to bring our lives back to normal after a disaster. Trevor’s 500-peso award is a third of the monthly wage of Cora, a friend of ours who works as a helper for a family.
True to her affinity with the poor, Leah knows these two families personally. She knows what work they do, who their children are, what life is like for them.
What I find surprising is the fact that we seem to be the only ones giving money through the Barangay to help the poor. This is surprising because there are a lot of rich families in our village, certainly many times more rich than us. I think that most rich folks here give their donations to the church. I can also imagine that it is just too complicated to bother with the difficulties of the poor life, so it is better to get on with ones business and let the church disburse the money.
Personally, I don’t give to the church, considering the lifestyles of the priests in their new convent with airconditioning and flat-screeen television – plus the cost of keeping the church compound secure to guard its treasures from looters. If Jesus Christ were to walk upon the earth today I am sure he would be horified at what is being done in his name.
November 19, 2013 Tuesday
It was probably a week ago when they stopped rationing electricity. I think that much of the emergency power is going to water pumping stations, hospitals, water filtering stations, communications towers and critical government services. Some private establishments have their own generators running on gasoline.
Several nights without electric light has not been too bad with the full moon providing illumination quite beautifully. But when the moon wanes, we are going to be in total darkness. Kerosene and candles are sold faster than they are restocked. Some people are also beginning to spread fear of crimes and violence as unscrupulous people take advantage of the dark. There are many source of fear concocted in the minds of people here, particularly in the crowded settlement down the foot path: escaped prisoners from Leyte, men without shoes, cafgu, the neigbour thief, the village vampire.
It is quite easy for a village to terrorize itself.
The people of San Vicente has had enough darkness. They are complaining about the unfairness of the power situation. A house next to “privileged” installations have power and some have been blasting their karaoke machines at night. Others mutter invectives or slam the door on people who ask to recharge their mobile phones. Free recharging is possible at the municipal hall and the church. At most times, there is a very long queue.
It must’ve been Monday, November 18, when I finished the sleeveless top that I started working on after the typhoon. During that time, I also started making the “Wheat Harvest” patterns, a square motif, from Magic Crochet #83. I am making the second motif now. I should also get on with the Christmas crocheting. I planned to do this earlier but got distracted by the earthquake and then the typhoon.
November 20, 2013 Wednesday
I have set aside the square wheat motif to star working on some table mats in 6-ply cotton. These will be for giving away for Christmas.
Apart from having no power, we now have no running water too. Rumour has it that the old diesel-power station in Dampas district, Tagbilaran City has overloaded.
November 24, 2013 Sunday
Today is my mother’s birthday. Since last week, I have set my mind that November 24 falls on a Saturday. So yesterday, I sent birthday greetings via text messages (on a mbile phone quickly running low on batteries) to my mom, and to my sister (in case my mom doesn’t get the message). I also cooked pancit, as birthday nooedles, and gave some for Penny to take home.
With nearly 2 weeks of no electricity, my sense of time and day has been altered. The moon now on its last quarter, the nights are pitch black and I am still to get used to it. Kerosene for lighting is difficult to get as demand as increased and so have the price. I have a little bit more than a liter (I gave bought a liter but gave some to our neighbour Flor), so I made notch marks on the clear plastic container so that I caan ration my own use of it. It will be only for lighting while cooking and not much else. What is left of the kerosene should last us two weeks.
Earl Grey sleeping on the bed ….
For lighting at night on non-critical tasks, I have some vigil candles. Yesterday I bought one thick short scented candle as there was nothing else available.
The overloading of the only emergency power generator for Bohol has left us without running watersince Wednesday. Visiting Borja Hospital yesterday, there was neither water nor electricity. The hospital looked so ghostly abandoned. The large shopping malls run on their own generators, as well as some smaller businesses that could afford it.
The “Datalogic internet cafe” advises that it now charges PhP25/hour to “break even with the expensive cost of a generator set.” A small household generator running at about 4 horsepower with a 6-liter gasoline capacity. It consumes about 0.8-0.9 liters of gasoline per hour, and gasoline costs PhP57 per liter).
There was a queue of 7 or so people at Datalogic that morning, and by past 10:30am, Trevor and I managed an hour shared on one machine. Trevor answered some emails, looked at the news, and I managed to answer some emails and send off some patterns purchased earlier. And not much else. It is tempting to sit and contiue surfing but there are more important things to do than sit hours internetting.
Some of the more important tasks include establishing some sort of system and routine of water use and collection, and food supply, storage and cooking. Next is rationing and stocking on kerosene, coconut oil and cnadles for lighting in the evening. Third is keeping up to date on accurate and useful information regarding the efforts of rebuilding power and water supply. There is considerable political leveraging on the power restoration efforts so it is difficult to get an accurate report on what is actually going on. With all that, reports from Leyte indicate total destruction of the power plant, transmission lines and submarine cables.
So, we may remain without power for even longer time than the proposed 45 days. Fiesta (December 8), Christmas and New Year will all likely to be celebrated in the dark.
Talk abot celebrating, around this time, I should actually be in Manila celebrating with my mom on her birthday. There would be water and power. But Trevor and I did not schedule a visit this year as Trevor has not yet even fully recovered from the respiratory problems he experienced due to the pollution in Manila.
For those who could afford it, the solution to the water and power problem is to leave Bohol. Some of the more well-off folks here have left for Cebu and other places unaffacted by either earthquake or typhoon. Some stay with family in those places, others stay at hotels. Other folks stay at hotels here in Tagbilaran City where power and water supply is kept by geenerator sets – and thus the various amenities of modern living – airconditioning, hot and cold water, television and wi-fi internet.
At times, lying in bed in total darkness as the coconut oil lamp dies and the moon is overcast, I think of leaving. It is not the amenities that I want since we don’t really have them herem but rather, I feel fear of the house being broken into, I fear of being raped and murdered. These are old “city fears” that I hold, reared by over 30 years of living in cities. Some of our neighbours have such fears too, which surprises me because they never lived in cities. Such fears are surely quite well founded in city life, but here? It is such a terrible thing to live here and imprison oneself in such fears!
But the thought of the majority of the population in our town and this island gives me a feeling of shame to such cowardly thought of abandoning Bohol. It is certainly better to stay, and in the experience, continue to participate in that growing bond that makes a people a community.
Cooking, cleaning and washing is stressful without electricity and with no water. But I am getting more used to this each day. I feel excited by the prospects of finding better, easier and more efficient ways of doing things.
Making pot stew and smoking fish in the dirty kitchen.
I have decided that next week, we will put the dirty kitchen to more use – I want to keeo a fire there, to cook a pot of meat and vegetable stew which in turn turns the place into a drying, salting ad smoking area for meat and fish.
Beef pot stew and tuna mackerel.
I think that a lot of new habits established during this crisis will be kept on.
AROUND 9PM, I saw the light suddenly turn on in the kitchen. What a shocking site. It felt like magic. But the magic quickly lost its appeal as I walked into the brightly lit kitchen. I miss the candle flame in the dark. So we kept the light off and the candles alight.
This must be temporary emergency power for the Barangay elections tomorrow, Monday. I cautiously plugged in the mobile phone and the notebook computer to recharge their batteries. Trevor turned on his computer and had the light on in his studio. I felt more comfortable if that was the only light on in the house.
But running water — that is what I really want to have soon.
November 26, 2013
My mother’s third parcel of goods arrived today. It is a heavier and bigger box of 10 kilos ful of tinned cirned beef, Turkey Spam (which probably came from my aunt who is very fond of them), a shirt for Trevor, a green shopping bag and several fat candles. It is always exciting getting a package from my mother!
I specifically asked for the candles because the shops here are running out of them. Although power seem to have been restored, I expect that such would not be for long.
And so I am right – we are without power tonight.
I prepared some tinned corned beef, candles and dried anchovies for Penny and Terry today. Penny always relished thet thought of my mother sending “relief goods”!
Today – after nearly 3 failed attempts (shop was closed etc), I finally managed to order the lumber and hardware for Flor’s house. Those were promised to arrive tomorrow, but I suspect it will be the day after.
The lumber and supplies cost some PhP7,200 which leaves just enough for 4 days labour. I hope all will go well!
Tomorrow is Market Day and thus the day to buy meat, fish and vegetables at the public market. I’m experimenting with beef stew and smoked fish tomorrow. We’ve had enough of pork humba an inunun!
Reading “Pickled, Potted and Canned. How the Art and Science of Food Preserving changed the World” by Sue Shephard.
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