Posted by: theboyfromsmallville | September 30, 2006

Once in a new Milenyo 1 (A trilogy not of Tolkien-ish proportions)

What would you do if you spent the night before holed up in your blanket nursing a 38.7 fever and wake up marooned in your flat the following day because the outside world was typhooned by a storm that looked as if it had a bone to pick with the city? What would you do if winds carrying speeds of up to 260 kph roar past your rickety roof sounding like an endless parade of freight trains in a subway tunnel and knocking down power posts in your vicinity, plunging you into a blackness rivaling that of the soul of an Islamic terrorist?

If you’re smart, you wait out the storm cocooned in the safety of your den.
I am not smart. I am stupid.
And stupid people, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, love breaking monotony.
And stupid, as Forrest Gump once said, is as stupid does.

I did not wait out the storm.
I went out into the storm.

Part One: Walk this way
Okay, here was the plan.
Thursday is usually The Day of No Plans. You go out and see where your feet take you. But to march into the first storm to directly hit the country’s capital in ages, you need a plan.
Mine was to get to Quezon City, to a friend’s house, where we were to initiate a neophyte into our growing gang. Get there any way possible.
It was past 3 in the afternoon, meaning Milenyo’s meanest had just zipped by. The wind was still driving, though. And the rains fell in pencil-thick drops.
I wanted to dress well for the journey, something close to the ones climbers wear to Everest.
I had none of that so I chose a black Converse cap, a black utility jacket designed more with fashion than utility in mind, a red Beermen Basketball shirt and mocha cargo shorts.
I wanted to wear thick boots because wading in floodwaters would be a reality in this journey. But I had none either. So I opened my shoe cabinet and pondered on which between my two pairs of slippers to pick. I chose the sole-thick Islander.

I wanted to be fair with the others who were forced to undertake the adventure so I evened out the competition.
A peek at the street showed people struggling with their umbrellas so I ditched the idea of bringing one.
A bulk of the people stranded at the streets looked like they hadn’t eaten yet so I passed up on lunch, vowing to take my first meal upon reaching my destination.
Half the people had little cash with them, but I figured I may need a little moolah so I armed myself with at least that advantage. I brought enough money to bribe a cop to take me to the hospital; enough so that if someone mugged me, he would have enough to treat his thug-friends to beer and barbecue and then snap pictures of the celebration with my camera phone.
Yup. I brought a camera phone to record my trip in photos.

The first thing that hit me when I stepped out into the open world was the stench of the streets. It was as if someone had dug up the sewers and dumped its contents on every street corner.
Then, a warning of Milenyo’s wrath:


The winds were strong enough to actually finger-pick the upper half of an electric post it snapped in two and harpoon it into a hapless house like a piece of chopstick carelessly stuck into a bun of hair.

I retreated to my pad to rethink the whole adventure thing over. That was actually more scared than smart. Stupid won out and I was back on the road. The rains had stopped and the stranded people suddenly mushroomed everywhere, all of them looking for any vehicle to hitch a ride on.
This was not going to be easy.

There were a few pedicabs that ventured into the streets peddling P50 rides to short distances. But I was going to QC and that was like P2,500 away at their rate. Besides, these three-wheeled transports were having difficulty negotiating the wind so I ruled that one out.


Trucks offered free rides. I was busy taking a picture of one that plodded by that I forgot two things: One, to make a dash for it and hitch a ride. Two, I was taking the picture in the middle of Taft Avenue. A silver Vios, XEJ 3-something-something, honked me to remind me that I was in the way of a long-line of turtle-paced vehicles.


If I were to get to QC, there was one thing I needed to do.
Walk my way there.
And so I walked, snapping photos of Milenyo’s trail of destruction along the way.

Uprooted tree in front of the Rizal Coliseum main gate 


tree draped over Manila Zoo wall

Hoping to catch a jeep or something, I rounded the Rizal Coliseum, taking a chance on a lesser-known route that runs through Mabini street. Finding no ride there, I walked on, reaching an open park at the corner of Adriatico street and Quirino Avenue. I was walking beside a twenty-something girl when we were stopped dead on our muddy tracks by something that looked like a dead snake.

Snake naman talaga ah! 

I did what any guy would do in that situation.
I shrieked.
Oh, I forgot. I was plugged into my IPod for adrenaline purposes. Thus, I didn’t know the extent of my shriek.
I only realized how loud—and how shrill—it was when a group of tambays looked our way and started sizing me up.
They apparently thought it was the girl who screamed and seeing a scruffy-looking guy beside her did not exactly look good from my side of the equation.
Luckily, the girl laughed and the tambays backed off, leaving me to continue with my journey.
(Next… Finally, a ride)


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