Things I missed. I started this thinking it would be the last post. But, I now realize there is another two weeks. That post will follow one of these days. Until then…
Speaking of storm surge, no one in Asgad truly understood what a “storm surge” really was. Until now. Praxy has told me many times over the last few days that…If someone, anyone had explained a storm surge as a “tidal wave” or “tsunami”, no one would have stayed in Asgad. They would have fled inland immediately, saving 10 lives.
I spent a lot of time explaining to Praxy how a storm surge works. I believe it is something like this. The strong wind creates a large divot or depression in the sea in front of the storm as it pushes the seawater in front of it. The water rushes away from the storm at a high rate of speed, to be replace by water upwelling near the front of the storm. This is no REAL danger until the storm approaches land. Then, the water in front of the storm has no place to go but out onto the land. This effect acerbated by the water becoming shallow near the shore. The water piles up, then…One surviving evacuee described it to me; “The winds picked up the sea, higher and higher. I could see it rising over the beach. Then dropped it on us from high above! We had no place to run. People were dying all around me.” Sounds almost like a normal wave breaking on the shore, only much bigger.
The larger the storm, the bigger the surge. The storms don’t get bigger than Haiyan.
Here is a Philippine domestic cat (felis catus) patiently waiting for food outside the door of the Mactan house. She is full grown, maybe weighs 4-5lbs. I showed the shoes in this shot to give people back in the US a sense of perspective. Cats are much smaller in the Philippines, I would have guessed this to be a half grown kitten. But nope…
Most Philippine families do not have much by way of pets. But this family has a tender heart. Mother and kittens are fed daily, and Wesley brought an abandon kitten home from school to be bottle fed and raised. Assii is his name, and he struts around the yard and house much like any cat back in the states. Other cats hang around, and they get whatever the two pet cats can’t eat. No Purina’s or Frisky’s in the Philippines. The animals are fed table scraps.
Three weeks later, the kittens were running around the front porch like a couple of furry streaks. Both are calico females. The bigger of the two is aggressive and kind of ornery. She could get mean. She has a short tail, I called her Hiayan. The smaller of the two is a sweet little kitten with a mild disposition, I named her Yolanda. I don’t know if the names will stick. She was inquisitive and friendly. I told everyone in the house, “If you decide to keep one of these kittens, keep the little one. She will make a decent pet. The other? Well…you are taking your chances!”
They have endless energy, playing all day long in the heat and humidity. I devised a few little toys for them and they had a great time. The slippery tile porch makes for a lot of traction problems for busy little kittens. They were always sliding into each other, the wall, or a piece of furniture. Hilarious!
One evening, this little beastie showed up at the door where momma cat was waiting for her dinner!
My command post while I was searching for my wife. The internet cafe was obviously set up for smaller clients, I’m all hunched over typing on my netbook. For 50 cents an hour, USD, the youngsters in the area can play video games on line. This place simply FILLS with young boys about 10-13 to play an online fantasy game involving ogres, fairies, monsters, and such. Usually there are two teams against each other, four to a side. Get killed, and you have to wait 60 seconds to rejoin the game. They can get so excited, it can become deafening. Gina, the owner, admonished the boys about their noise several times while I was searching for Praxy.
Gina gave me run of the place. I could knock on the door any time, and she would let me in. One Sunday morning, I had the place to myself for 1 1/2 hours. Gina is now a good friend of Praxy and myself. I jokingly said I’d like to rent the whole place to stream games of my favorite basketball team, the Gonzaga Bulldogs. She said “Sure, but you will have to pay for all 12 stations. That would be 240PHP per hour” (or about $5.50 USD). The feed seemed choppy and I would have to purchase another $10 for the overseas bandwidth. Not happening!
Jean, Lyndon’s wife from Mactan, is making “ice candy”. The ingredients are ube potato, sugar, canned milk, starch, flour, coconut, ube flavoring, and water. See those tiny plastic bags? Each bag gets a ladle full, then they are tied off and stacked. Then into the freezer overnight to be turned into “Popsicles”. 230 or so are made from one huge pot. The price? 3 pesos each or about 7 cents.
People stream by the gate all day long. But, many stop and buy one or more of these little bags filled with purple goodness. I’ve already mentioned that Jean and Lyndon are good cooks. This is no exception. Cold and delicious!
I found it endlessly amusing to deliver the little bags from the freezer to the front gate. Some of the shocked reactions were priceless; a balding, sweating, kano delivering the treat was a bit much for them. The very young girls about 4-6 years old sometimes would have classic double-take reactions. The pedicab drivers find it amusing as well, they always smile, wave, and take off on their pedaling of the locals to and from the main road.
I did end up learning a few words of Cebuano. “Dua” means “two”. “Humok pa” means “it is soft” and not ready for sale. “Mayu” means “hello” or “good day”.
Sometimes, Jean has to make this daily. That’s a lot of little bags of candy! They also sell water ice in larger plastic bags.
Praxy bought all the makings for a batch of “ice candy” and she is going to make a it this summer for one of the potluck gatherings. I’ll be first in line!
I mentioned on a previous trip that everyone is living off of each other. Very little money exchanges hands. I bought little bags of 3-in-1 coffee (Nescafe, creamer, and sugar) for 5 pesos at Guisano Island mall. The little sari sari stores around the are selling the same thing for 6 pesos, a 1 peso profit per bag. That is 2 1/2 cents profit in USD. I think most items in the store are priced at the same profit margin. A peso here, a peso there; a family makes enough money to buy food for the day. 8 pesos for the 20 minute jeepney ride from Radar, Babag Dos to Guisano Island mall. Buy your store’s supplies, box ’em up, and ride back. These little stores are 50 feet apart, all selling about the same thing. I tried to buy from everyone for the sake of good will. You can usually find about anything. If you hit four or five stores!
The sari sari stores in Guiuan have a unique problem, both humorous and sad. The winds and rain from Haiyan/Yolanda were so strong, that the labels were blown off of every single can of canned foods. So, the store owner would put things out to sell, then shrug his or her shoulders when you asked what was in the can. Some, like sardines, were obvious. Others, there was no way to know if you got a good deal or a bad deal until you got home. One good thing about the canned food. Unless the can was crushed, the food was still edible.
I made one last visit to see Martin before I left.
He gave me another Japanese occupation note from the second world war. It is beat up, but I will treasure it. With his frail health, I’m doubting I will see him again. He was ecstatic that we took the time to visit him the day before we left. I think he knows as well…
This is not the end of my writing from the 2013 trip to the Philippines. After I finished our story about the typhoon, I decided to take a while off from writing. Writing had become a little depressing, thinking about friends and loved ones struggling to put their lives back together. Friends and relatives from Tacloban, Salcedo, and Guiuan are finally starting to appear on Facebook, meaning that life is being restored to their towns. I have gotten over my lethargy and there is still a few more stories about the remaining 2 weeks of our vacation.