Out of the Ordinary…or Not?

Ordinary Average Day.

When living in the Philippines, every day can be an ordinary, average day, just like the day before, and the day before that. Then again, it should also be expected that every day can hold something different from the previous day. Any given day here can be simply mundane or full of excitement, and can throw up a surprise or two.

Today began ordinarily just like any other day. It’s days like this that remind me of an old favorite Joe Walsh tune, “Ordinary Average Guy.” (See link to song at the end of this post.) The asawa was up early, and I rolled out of bed about 6:00. Now some of you are thinking that if I got up at 6A, then how early does my asawa get up. Actually, I rarely catch her in the act of waking up but I’d guess she beats many of the local roosters with feet on the ground. Anyway, if I sleep to 7A, that is late for me.

So I climbed out of bed and made up the bed (my job by default because I’m the last one up and because my asawa says so!), hit the CR, and then found my way to the coffee pot. One advantage to sleeping later than the boss is that the coffee is always ready when I get up. I then took a quick morning stroll about the compound to get some fresh air, check out the plants and landscape, and to get my blood flowing and the kinks un-kinked. As a retired weatherman, a quick assessment of the sky conditions, winds, and a good look at the ocean for any indication of what is happening meteorologically, is habitual.

An ordinary tropical storm

An ordinary tropical storm

Today, I witnessed a strong northwesterly and cool (relative term) breeze associated with Tropical Storm Dujuan located to the northeast which is moving off in a different direction and away from Samar (the big green island in the lower left of the photo). Nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year. After making a simple determination that today will be just like yesterday, at least weather-wise, I found myself appreciative that life could be predictable. At my age (61), I have come to appreciate things that are predictable (except brownouts!)

I headed back into the house, turned on the computer, and as soon as it loaded up, I was ready for my morning foray into the world’s news. Then the power went out – Brown out!   I don’t know why they are called “brownouts” when they should be called “blackouts!”  Well, that should have been predictable. Same thing happened yesterday!  Now with my morning routine totally screwed up (again), I had to make a decision – what shall I do now?  I don’t ordinarily have contingency plans in place for unscheduled power outages, only pre-planned outage events, like an all-day beach visit. Decision making when you are in a retired status is a real pain in the coconut! I remember that I Retired in Samar so that I wouldn’t have to make any more tough decisions. I meandered back out into the yard and checked on the landscape again, then back into the house, grabbed a book (that I have read twice) and read some more about blogging while I finished working on my first cup of coffee. A few minutes later, my asawa informed me – through the miracle of the bamboo telegraph (okay, so it wasn’t really via the bamboo telegraph, we do have cell phones…and a bamboo telegraph as a backup), that her sister’s barangay has electricity just a few barangays over. Now I was infuriated! How can that be?..somebody…everybody else has power and we don’t!

Oops!

Oops!

I decide to jump on my motorcycle and head on down the road to see what I could discover. Last time I did this, I found that a coconut tree had fallen across the road taking out the main line to our village. When I got there, a couple of locals had just finished cutting up the tree, enough so that they could manuever it out-of-the-way for local traffic to pass. Did anyone think to report this mishap to the power company? Not!  I’ve had to ride over to the local sub-station (about 3km down the highway) on occasion only to learn that nobody is quick to report these outages. Ordinarily, when I get there, I simply ask “Hey, what happened to our power?” I will get a surprised look by the station attendant followed with the ordinary response “Barangay Tomaligues? Okay, we will contact the supervisor” and that may be enough to get set somebody in motion. Most times though, not very quickly. When I ride out in search of answers, I’ve learned that asking questions to barangay residents along the way serves no purpose other than to make the determination that nobody pays much attention, nor do they seem to care much, about brownouts. It is not a big inconvenience to these residents and everybody knows the power will return…sooner or later. To most of the residents here, having electricity is pure luxury, especially after night fall (lights and fan). During the day though, it seems like nobody could give a pigeons tail!  Ordinarily it seems, power is not used by the majority of residents much during the day in our village…except maybe for karaoke!  No power service is directly related to a lower electric bill at month’s end, and for what it is worth, everyone gladly accepts it and nobody really complains much.

Mondejares Puertes Resort, next to our village

As I rode though the gates at the resort next door, I could see that the gate guard there just finished cranking up the resort’s large generator (they must have guests!). He acknowledged me by giving me the ordinary up-nod and smile as I turned my bike around inside the entrance. Because this barangay next to ours also had no power, I surmised that the main feed from the highway was out and figured that it was probably just a tripped line segment, which is ordinarily corrected in a Filipino time-ly fashion. There was no need to ride out to the sub-station I thought. As I rode out of and back to the village, I noticed children were in the streets playing (another ordinary occurrence here) and I had to ask myself “what day is this?” I thought for a few seconds before I realized it was still the middle of the week…”Wednesday or Thursday” was my guess. My next thought was “Why aren’t these kids in school…again?” As I rode back into our village, I stopped along the street and asked a young neighbor girl “No school today?” With a confused look, she replied “No.” I asked “Why no school?” and she just shrugged her shoulders. Then I suggested “No teacher?” and she nodded in the affirmative. Again I asked “Why?” and she responded “I don’t know.” Again, and ordinary school day and no kids in school…nothing out of the ordinary here.

Berna and friends just hanging out with no school!

“Berna” and friends just hanging out with no school!

As I pulled through the gate into my compound, it hit me – about a year ago, whenever I tried to talk to the young neighbor girl, all she would ever reply with was “ambut” (ahm-‘boot) in her local dialect which translates to “I don’t know.” Today she actually said “I don’t know!”  I thought to myself, now that is something way out of the ordinary…little Bernaline is speaking English!

Oh, and another thing out of the ordinary – power came back on quickly today.  It’s just another day in paradise!

Joe Walsh – “Ordinary Average Guy”