7/04/2012
Welcome to rainy day Manila

"Maynila nga naman," my dad, sitting behind the steering wheel, slowly getting impatient, said. "This is a stinking place."

This was yesterday morning. In hindsight, the decision to drop my brother off to school was wrong. We were stuck at the intersection of Buendia and OsmeƱa for a good thirty minutes - and that's not factoring in the traffic along Estrada. And to think we left early, and we were going relatively fast for a rainy day until then.

But then again, it is a rainy day. I remember my driving lessons. The roads are slippery when wet. So, if you're driving on a rainy day, drive slowly. Makes sense, unless you're driving a bus, in which case, to hell with traffic rules.

Well, to be fair, you really will get impatient if you're stuck in the same spot for a good thirty minutes. Or more. No chance of speeding up unless you want to go Destruction Derby on everyone.

Pedestrians have a better shot at ripping the rule book apart. I'm pretty sure I saw more people cross the road in the wrong places yesterday. So much for the so-called Red Men apprehending jaywalkers.

"You mean sinking place?" I told my dad. I was trying to make a joke.

"Stinking," he reiterated, sternly. He was really in a bad mood.

We were at the intersection of Taft and Quirino. That exchange happened while our car was in the middle of flood waters, a good six inches high, if I got my estimates right. I really thought I had a good joke that time. Anything to kill the fact that I still had a long way to go before Ortigas, and I'm late for work already.

I did arrive at the office, a whole two hours after we left our home. Our pantry is full of opened umbrellas, and my Twitter feed is full of people my age furiously venting out.

"I wish I was still in school now," one said - can't remember who, but it isn't relevant, really, because many people said this - "so classes will be suspended."

The bigger chaos was unfolding on television and radio, and I'm not talking about reports of heavy traffic and flooded areas - because they don't really change. Same with class suspensions, although watching school administrators and government officials make their announcements never fails to be amusing.

"Sana mag-announce kaagad kung may pasok o wala," Isa said. "Some of us have classes that start at one [in the afternoon]."

I point out that Manila has suspended classes... but, of course, college students aren't included. She's taking up law. Or at least I assume she is. I'm pretty sure she is. She is.

Minutes passed and there was a report that the Senate has suspended work for the day. The irony of having employees of a major branch of government go home early, before pretty much everybody else, did not amuse everyone.

"Really inconvenient for college and post-graduate students," she sighed.

City governments would announce suspensions. Schools would announce suspensions. Government offices would announce suspensions. As time passed, things got more ridiculous. My brother - DLSU, remember - was dismissed at one in the afternoon. The rains were still strong by then, but it was more of a rowdy drizzle than an outburst, or so I noticed when I headed to Laguna for some field work. Laguna, by the way, was where the low pressure area is.

Yes, I was still at work. I was chasing a deadline, come on. But the rain didn't bother me anymore. After all, I did not have to hope, endlessly, pointlessly, for things to be suspended. Why would I want to take a trip home, from Ortigas, in the middle of the rain, along with everybody else? There'd be no vehicles. More wet feet. I got lucky in the two times classes were suspended in DLSU - the buses I got into were relatively empty, and the waters along Taft were just gutter high.

And now, I'll risk getting sick just so I can get home early, when I can just finish my work here and lounge when it's all done? And if I do get stranded, there's always the 24-hour Jollibee branch below.

Not that I know how it really goes. But still, it's ridiculous suspending work at three in the afternoon - which is what UA&P did.

It's more ridiculous demanding that you're entitled to go home because of a rainy day. We didn't know! The weathermen fucked up again! But it's a low pressure area. Just a low pressure area. Which dumped a much smaller amount of rain than Ondoy did in 24 hours. We take them for granted, the same way government takes drainage systems for granted, and everybody on the road, drivers and pedestrians, take traffic rules for granted. Especially during the rain.

A stinking place, indeed.

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