THE trouble with a fortnightly cycle of column-writing is that by the time your turn comes to comment on a most talked-about issue, almost always, the issue is no longer being talked about.
I refer to the relentless spate of monsoon rains these past two weeks that brought a lot of grief to the city and its people. We had public infrastructure that went down with eroded retaining walls; but perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is when the huge dump of precipitation itself caused a tree to fall, hitting a vehicle that resulted in the death of a passenger.
The gray, the damp, and the gloom that lingered above our heads give one the impression that an ocean suddenly materialized the wrong side up and it is, for want of a more elegant description, tempestuous. So, maybe there is still residual conversation taking place about the monsoon or nepnep as we say in Ilokano, which brings in littugaw or heavy downpour as they say up there in Cagayan.
The remarks are all about how pleasant it is to see hues of blues up in the sky and the “sometimes” sunlight awash on what used to be a landscape draped in fog. Thus, we can stop singing Led Zeppelin’s “if the sun refuses to shine, I would still be loving you,” for indeed it is difficult to talk about love in the time of molds and mildew, however you might characterize this as cuddle weather. So, yes, after almost two weeks of being grounded, we can go outdoors and still keep the umbrellas folded.
But we have been used to the monsoon season all our lives. Out here in the tropics we only have two pronounced seasons as it were – wet and dry – so we are now in the wet cycle with spin dryers cycling along and effectively upcycling our electric bills. Those are enough to cause grief under normal circumstances, but with the lingering pandemic, our sorrows are of course magnified.
Due to the threat of the Delta variant, movements are once again restricted. That sense of confinement (over a year in the running) is of course aggravated by the monsoon rains such that the latter does not only engender a gloomy sort of mood but also this health crisis on top of it is always a harbinger of doom.
If this is how it feels to some of us, it really does kill the mood somewhat to talk politics at this time because no matter how we want to spur our minds into thinking, confinement brings us into the doldrums and the minds draw a blank much like the walls that I am staring at right now.
It used to be that we could obtain a positive outlook of the monsoon season in Baguio despite the inherent destructiveness of this weather system. In pre-pandemic times, these are days when traffic eases up somewhat, and the crowds are a little thinner. It is easy to get a table at a restaurant, and of course to find parking, or to hail public transport.
Apparently, this “traffic-free” condition is happening too at the moment, what with border controls and all which leaves the city all to ourselves. But while some of us will say, yes, the tourists can come another day, the hometown Baguio feels is somehow diminished by our covered and shielded faces. I guess what I am trying to say is that I really do miss the beautiful faces of Baguio residents. On a good day, you can smile at a stranger and he or she will smile back. If you are that lucky, then you can say “that’s Baguio for you.”
I have heard it said that the eyes have it. This means even if the person is masked and shielded, you will know if the person is smiling or smiling back. Perhaps. But the other side of the eyes having it is that often, one can sense that the person behind the mask is worried, tired, and anxious – based only on the expression of the eyes.
When can we see each other’s faces again, I wonder? By the time that happens, I am almost sure the feeling is akin to blue skies and sunshine lifting the veil of fog that engulfed the city after more than twenty days of relentless rain.