Posted by: theboyfromsmallville | September 30, 2006

Once in a new Milenyo 2 (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 2: Finally, a ride
Having circled the Rizal Coliseum block, I proceeded towards Quirino, left-turned back to Taft Avenue and marched towards Quiapo.
From Quirino to Pedro Gil, things were not as devastating as the ones that I had just seen. I managed to avoid wading in floodwaters just yet by taking elevated sidewalks that guarded closed shops. I had pretty much resigned myself to a full walk to Quezon City, so I tried to take my mind off two facts: That I was still burning a temperature. That my aching joints might not survive the rest of this journey.

By the time I reached the intersection of UN and Taft Avenue, though, a miracle happened. An FX taxi stopped in front of me and unloaded three passengers.
Now, before I set out on this adventure, I made one rule firm. Since I was doing this for kicks, I wouldn’t jostle for rides with people who needed to get on one because it was imperative that they got home. So you could imagine how big this miracle was for me. Three empty seats, no one to contest them with.

The FX was headed for SM Fairview. Way off my destination. But while inside, I began mentally mapping out his route. There was no way he was taking Quiapo and gamble on the underpass flood. Since he turned right on UN, that meant he was going Quezon Ave. via España.

That was important for me because I wanted to take photos of the España floodwaters, too. And taking pictures was difficult because the cab’s wet windows blurred the images a bit.

 

 

Without asking the permission of the driver and the other passengers, I opened the window for just enough time to snap one photo of the flood and allow pelts of rain to wet my seatmate’s face. I don’t think he was a big fan of the rain because he had the look of a cranky caretaker awakened by a drunk trespasser. I apologized. He didn’t say anything at all. Talk about rudeness.

As we were reaching the end of España, I came across a billboard that lost out its battle with Milenyo’s gusts. Not only did the storm peel the canvas off the billboard, it also bent the whole structure into a pose of submission and humility. I immediately got off the FX. I needed to snap a picture of that.

 

Only then did it hit me. How was I going to get a ride this time? I did a little math—or at least, what passes for it—in my brain. Having once been a gasoline-conscious driver who often covered this route, I knew that between the two points of my journey lay about 25 kilometers of road. I estimated that I had around 18 covered, leaving me with seven left to go.
That’s one golf course.
I walked on.

Reaching Welcome, a round landmark that splits España into Quezon Ave. and E. Rodriguez Ave, and splinter sidestreets like the one whose corner is home to a roving canteen that sells bottomless lugaw, I noticed that this was already rush hour time and yet the streets were empty. Unable to contain the camwhore in me, I took a snapshot of myself while walking along what should have been the busiest and most clogged area of E. Rodriguez.

the dishevelled idiot look 

I had made it to the corner of Banaue—home of cheap and sometimes illegally acquired car parts and the only place where you can buy back your stolen side mirror—and E. Rodriguez when the rain started becoming heavy again.
Not good.
From that corner, the road slopes downward to the Araneta Ave. intersection, meaning I was near my destination.
Rain notwithstanding, I walked on.
Rain notwithstanding, I took my picture again, squinting at the drops hitting my face. I wasn’t sure who’d conk out first. My camera phone or I.

I swear, there were raindrops

The rain got really hard and I managed to duck under an empty shed to avoid getting drenched. Not that it mattered. My jacket had pretty much yielded to the rain and my shirt was getting moist. But I still needed to keep a semblance of dryness so my fever wouldn’t go nuts on me.
Being a person who doesn’t wear watches, I usually measure time by the songs I listen to. When I started out, I was listening to my E-Heads playlist on my IPod. That was about 75 minutes long.
By the time I rested at the shed in front of the Quezon Institute, I was halfway through Parokya’s Inuman Sessions playlist, which runs about 70 minutes.
That means I had been going for about 110 minutes, or close to two hours.

The rains slowed down a bit and I walked on, pausing to take a picture of another tree Milenyo felled and fed into Bayani Fernando’s argument that trees do not belong on the streets. Despite the problem it could potentially cause on a heavy-traffic day, I still wasn’t buying that argument.

I finally reached the corner of E. Rodriguez and Araneta Ave. Up until that time, I had managed to avoid wading in floodwaters yet. This time, I had no choice. My friend’s house was across Araneta Ave and to get there, I had to walk through floodwaters a car wheel deep.
That meant it would soak me from my feet up to the middle of my leg.

 

Without checking for open wounds that may allow leptospirosis to creep into a body that hasn’t been known to be strong enough to fight off something as simple as a common cold, I waded on.
In my mind, I was the knight Orlando Bloom told in Kingdom of Heaven that he was “marching to certain death.”
And in my mind, I was the one who answered: “All death is certain.”
(Next: The final stretch)

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