Sunday, July 20, 2014

When UPLB Went Dark and Silent

When UPLB Went Dark and Silent

Typhoon Glenda brought to Los Banos frustration the magnitude of which I have not experienced before.  When Glenda made landfall early evening of Tuesday (July 16), Kuya Flor was scheduled to check out from the Calamba Medical Center and go home to Panyesanan in Lipa City to rest.  Batangas and Laguna were hit hard by Glenda in the evening until morning.  From about 12mn to 7am, Glenda kept on hammering at LB.  Huge mahogany, acacia, and pili trees were falling down like dominoes.  Half past 7am, all the roads were buried in big branches of trees, completely unpassable.  In fact, they looked like it was huge kaingin all over the place where only large tree trunks were standing.  All the roads on the UPLB campus were filled with large branches of trees strewn all over the roads, many huge branches hanging precariously on high tension lines.  All the streets were not passable to humans, much less to motor vehicles.  On Duhat Street corner DM Lantican Avenue going to the College of Forestry and Natural Resources at the UPLB upper campus, I tried navigating the roads underneath huge branches to take some pictures only to suffer from chest pains (don’t you feel a bit frustrated, too, when the heart condition gets in the way?)  The streets were simply non-navigable.

It was of no surprise either that the power lines, water system, telecommunications, including the cellsites at LB, were all down.  Los Banos was in deep silence and completely in the dark.  I didn’t have any way of finding what condition Kuya and Ate were in if they checked out of CMC.  It has been extremely frustrating.  I still don’t know what happened to them.  Very early this morning, a cellsite was on briefly, just enough to transmit my message to Ate Aida.  I still haven’t got a response.

Perhaps Luz Villapando or Faye Cabrera might have the chance to send us some messages about what happened to Kuya and Ate.  Are they now at Panyesanan?  How are they?  Any update will be very welcome.

In some ways, Typhoon Glenda was more destructive than Typhoon Milenyo was in 2008.  Milenyo covered UPLB roads with branches of trees, yes, but Glenda’s fury downed most of the old trees on the UPLB Campus, including 50-year old Philippine mahogany and acacia trees.  Close to some 20 Pili trees on Pili Drive were uprooted.  The young trees on the UPOU Campus were all down, much like in 2008 when Milenyo carefully combed similar trees.  All the bignay trees on the UPOU Campus, of course, are down.  It matters not that these bignay berries were almost ready for harvest.  So goes the bignay wine that UPOU usually sends as gift items during Christmas in the last couple of years.  Bye, bignay wine from UPOU this year.

Two hours after Glenda left …


 The structural integrity of the garage (congratulations to SEARCA for constructing a study garage for the row of apartments at corner DM Lantican and Duhat Road), but the “structural integrity” of the tree against a devastating Glenda is of lower rating, it seems. 



Duhat Road, Forestry


3:         DM Lantican Avenue, Forestry

 My L300 could have been crushed, but for a sturdy garage roof. 

UPLB Fertility tree (183)

Cattle graze on the UPLB grounds


8:         Mango tree uprooted near the DMST bldg (formerly the Infirmary bldg.)

UPLB Alumni Coffee House scheduled to be opened for enjoyment by Alumni on 10 October 2014 

UPLB Carillon Tower through branches of a fallen acacia tree by the UPLB Alumni Coffee House

  Pili tree on Pili Drive, close by the bldg of the Depts. Of Horticulture, Agronomy, and Soils Science.  This is just one of almost 20 large pili trees uprooted on Pili Drive. (192)

And, by the way, the old building of IRRI, which used to house its Training Services, and now largely hosting IRRI’s scientific records and field scientists, was not spared.  Its roof was peeled by Glenda.  Imagine that since 1962, that building never suffered such destruction.

In retrospect, strong typhoons rarely hit Los Banos directly, with the magnitude that Glenda unleashed.  Milenyo was powerful mainly due to the combination of strong winds and heavy rains, which resulted in massive flooding.  Glenda, on the other hand, was more destructive inland because it downed huge trees over roads: large branches and even whole trees were strewn all over roads that even people find difficult to navigate.  Many buildings were damaged as well.  Even the powerful typhoon Rosing (was this the name?) in 1967 couldn’t compare in terms of devastation wrought on campus.

In the traditional flooded areas, there were no floods this time, but the roofs of houses were blown away.  Now, which might be a choice among victims of typhoons?  Flooded houses, or roofless houses?

I have no empirical evidence, but a cursory comparison of observable attitude and behavior of people seem to point out that flood is more scary to them compared to blown off roofs.  I’ve heard of people in the office talking about blown off roofs with some excitement and giggles, but after Milenyo’s floods years ago I still clearly visualize faces reacting to some scare of a life time.  If I were to make a choice, I would choose neither, of course, but these natural catastrophes are now inevitable mainly due to the way we treat our environment and our planet.  It’s no longer a matter of choice.

Has anyone taken climate change seriously as yet, by the way?


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