Storms are typical in the Philippines. Because of its location, the country becomes a cyclone’s gateway to Asia from the Pacific ocean. That’s why a few typhoons (the Pacific counterpart of hurricanes) like Fengshen and Haiyan were so strong they caused extensive damage and blackouts in affected areas.
Over a decade ago, Iloilo City (where our VMAs are based) was hardly hit by Typhoon Frank (international name: Fengshen). Portions of the city were hit by flash floods in less than two days of heavy downpour. The southern areas of the city were spared and were oblivious of the flood because of the three-day, city-wide blackout. In the eve of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the city and provincial governments took cautionary measures and put the whole province in the dark for two days. Preparing for impending calamities is a must, but Filipinos also need to entertain themselves while forced to stay indoors without electricity.
In times like these, smartphone-use becomes limited. Instead, battery-operated radios tuned in to local stations resound against the rain hitting tin roofs. Scenes outside are all gray skies up above and puddled streets down below. Hot coffee and books while all snuggled up in bed seem like a perfect match for the weather. But for most Filipinos, they have alternative past-time favorites.
Kids love exchanging horror accounts with friends especially during blackouts. Teenagers share stories of love and heartbreaks to laugh at and cry about. Childhood friends brave the rain to get to their usual tambayan (slang for hangout) and catch up. Families bond and talk about the good ol’ days over candlelight dinner.
When there’s enough company at home, one can get his creative juice flowing through a domestic shadow play production. Shadow hand puppetry is becoming a lost art, but remains a favorite Filipino past time the moment a single candle is lit to illuminate the room.
Filipinos are so musically-inclined that even the not-so-gifted sing to their hearts’ content. An old Filipino adage warns how singing so badly cause heavy rain. But when it comes to battling boredom under the gloomy weather, friends and families come together and jam to the rhythm of the guitar or makeshift beatbox.
Sometimes it takes certain inconveniences to take a break from electronic gadgets. Doing so compels people to live in the moment, reconnect with others close by, get creative, and relax. And as the weather clears up, life is back to normal and reality hits that memories of those simple activities will eventually be forgotten or evoked the next emergency power outage.