JOSE Marie Chan should be singing by now, but instead of listening to ‘whenever I see girls and boys selling lanterns on the street,’ we heard a different tune last week.
“I look out and I see the rain as it falls on my window pane. And the music that’s in my heart is a sad refrain.”
And oh what a rain it was.
According to the PAGASA Baguio Synoptic Station, rainfall in Baguio from 8:00 A.M. of October 11 to 8:00 A.M. of October 12 amounted to 625 mm.
This was much higher than the record set by the Benguet Pagasa station on September 15, 2018 during Typhoon Ompong when the rainfall level reached 535 mm. Typhoon Ondoy, which devastated Manila in 2009, was 455 mm while Typhoon Lawin only reached 327.8.
Severe Tropical Storm Maring’s rainfall is then the highest 24-hour record in the country.
Well, let’s not forget Typhoon Pepeng almost at the same time in October 2009 when rainfall brought two meters of rain in ten days.
So it was indeed a huge fall.
And the saddest refrain.
Not because of your memories following everywhere I go down the high and byways of my days but because these massive rainfall has become not an every hundred-year-phenomenon but almost an annual affair.
And it is not something that is a problem just for Baguio and Benguet. It too is a problem of those below us.
A few hours after the rain fell, the provinces of La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and almost all of Cagayan Valley were likewise flooded.
It is a blessing and a curse that Cordillera is the Watershed of the North because we not only provide power and irrigation to our neighbors but also flood and destruction.
So how can we stop this sad refrain?
The sad news is we can’t. Climate change is almost unstoppable and one of the worst effects is that we will have stronger and wetter typhoons.
And also, if you noticed, they don’t come in the so-called wet season anymore.
Remember that last August, the country was never visited by a typhoon. There were a couple of storms but not a typhoon. This is the first time it happened. Incredible, you say. But the refrain is what we had last week. The rains it did not give in August, it gave in October.
The rains that fell in Baguio last October 11 and 12 were already the monthly average of a typical October. One day equals one month. Incredible.
So what do we do besides waiting? Last ditch efforts include clearing our waterways, establishing a more efficient early warning system, cautioning the building of infrastructures in geologically hazardous areas and massive reforestation.
Revegetating the slopes is almost always the best remedy to stop landslides and erosion.
We know you yourselves are tired of this. But this is the sad sad refrain and we have no other choice really.