Friday, September 16, 2005


The power was cut last night. Probably due to the continuous descent of water from the heavens. Some people call them the tears of the gods. Two things though made the blackout bearable or at least comfortable for me: first, it happened late at night most of us were asleep or halfway to it and second; the gentle rain provided a somnolent atmosphere. I just had to open the window to let the rain breeze. Across the street not a sound was a heard, save for rhythmic pittar-patter of the raindrops. There were times when the sound of the rain was interrupted by voices, passer-by's in the quite night, probably on their way home. It probably was the most relaxing brownout I have ever encountered. Unfortunately not all my brushes with blackouts and brownouts were as sublime as last night. By the way according to Wikepedia If the power outage (loss of the supply of electricity supply to an area) is a blackout if power is lost completely. It is a brownout if there is still some power, but it is below the minimum required. During Cory Aquino's run as president blackouts came on a daily basis. At least eight hours long every day. People were no longer surprised, there even was a fixed schedule. It was part of life. Still, it was no walk in the park. I remember in the old building where I work we would hear screams near lunchtime, the elevator was stuck between floors and people were to crawl or climb to the next available floor in order to get out of lift. Suffice to say the said people were not that happy and often times expletives were uttered with the wish that the mothballed nuclear power plant be opened, damn the safety concerns. And then there was the heat, or more accurately the humidity. Blackouts meant no power to run the electric fans and air conditioners. And this situation lasted for a long time. Those who could afford it bought generators, unfortunately these gensets were noisy and spewed black smoke that resemebled black cotton candy,. Blackouts and humming sound of generators were part of everyday life. A lot of us bought those light-radio-blinker rechargeable units. I remember people also started buying battery operated personal fans and TV sets that ran on car batteries; the more inventive ones used car batteries with inverters for electricity. Then there was of course the solar-powered flashlight; I am not even getting into that. People also went to motels a lot, for once to enjoy the air-con.
Question: What did Filipinos used before gas lamps and candles? Answer: The light bulb.
During the Ramos administration, the President was given emergency powers to solve the power crisis. Deals were signed and power plants were built. I think the government even bought power barges from Russia. Eventually, the problem subsided. There were still black outs from time to time. The power grid going of line because a tree or something hit a vital electric post or a renegade tractor hitting a crucial power line, causing the system to trip, or what they beautifully term a cascade failure. The oddest cause of a blackout happened just before the beginning of the millennium year. It was a few days before Christmas when the whole of Luzon was plunged suddenly into darkness. I was at Mega Mall at the time and people panicked, not because they were not used to it, but because they thought the millennium bug brought it about. A few days before Christmas? It was still several days before the dreaded thing was supposed to happen. And most companies prepared, and spent a lot of money in the process, for any problems that would be caused by Millenium Bug. The next morning it was reported that jellyfish caused the power grid to breakdown. According to newspaper reports millions of jellyfish swam inside the cooling system of a power plant. Why they decided to go into the cooling no one can tell? Maybe they were just sucked in or the water in the cooling system enticed them to come in. Whatever the explanation is they were there and they did their damage. The jellyfishes clogged the system and caused the power plant to shut down, causing a cascading failure. Hazy pictures of power plant employees shovelling out the now-cooked jellyfishes accompanied the report. There are times when the truth becomes stranger than fiction. We Filipinos eat blackouts for breakfast. ADDITIONAL POSTS BlOG: LIBRARY7 Title: Book Curses and Anathemas When I was starting blogging one of the topics that caught my interest were book curses. The use of book curses, threat of excommunication and anathema were used extensively during the Middle Ages as a way of controlling book theft, the other method was to chain the book to the table or to the shelf. Read BlOG: PINOY SNAPSHOTS Title: Catch of the Day. View


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