The Pilipiñas Packet

Sojourn in The Philippines, 2019-2020

Volume 14, Dasma, February 2

Week 14 – Dasmariñas

It was a quiet week in Tagaytay. And rather somber.

It began and ended in Dasmariñas but we ventured mid-week to Tagaytay (Wind Residences) to assess the situation and remove our belongings.
The week also began and ended with visits to my dear young friend, Adette, the brilliant young paster of The Yahweh Church of Christ, now fighting for her life. Unfortunately she was too tired to see us this Sunday. She has been discharged from hospital and now an outpatient at the cancer treatment centre at Asian Hospital in Alabang. She is staying with her parents in Lapidario, Trece Martires, three blocks from the church. We visited her last Sunday after service but not again this Sunday as we had hoped. (Now that we are living in Dasmarinas we are only 12 minutes away from Trece, unlike the 50 minutes from Tagaytay, and more frequent attendance at church is possible.) But my main interest is Adette. She says she has many questions for me and I want to give her as many answers as my 72 years can offer. But she better get well soon because I may not have that many years left.
Adette had just had her third infusion of fluorouracil, eight more to go, once every eleven days. She was very tired the first Sunday, but perked up when we arrived. Her next (4th) infusion will be February 7, delayed because they will do an MRI bone scan this week, and wants to conserve strength.  My god, the memories this brings back for me. I don’t believe in miracles, or prayer, but in this case I hope for her recovery and a long life. She has so much to offer. We want to talk theology, but lets call it philosophy instead. I asked her if she had read St. Augustine, and she had. I will be careful not to preach or undermine, especially in her fragile health, just as she does not proselytize either. We do it with smiles.
It may have been a quiet week but quiet and calm are not always the same thing. 
We visited Tagaytay on Wednesday to attend to some errands there and to remove some of our things from the apartment. Tagaytay is almost back to normal but somehow doesn’t feel like it. Ash is still everywhere so the town looks and feels dirty, and the air still seems to have fine dust floating in it. PHIVOLCS has reduced its warning about Taal Volcano from Level 4 to 3 but that is still a volatile situation. DILG (the Department of Interior and Local Government) has been persuaded (mostly by impatient mayors and citizens) that most residents within the 14 km zone of Taal Volcano may return to their homes, though some towns with the 7 km zone are still evacuated. It’s understandable that people may want to return to their homes and livelihood but in reality it will be some time before normalcy will be ’normal’ again. And isn’t that a relative term. Taal Volcano hasn’t had a serious eruption since 1977, a bigger one in 1965, and only a hiccup in 1991. Taal has been under Level 3 watch since last March, and probably Level 2 for years. So ‘normalcy’ means living with the volcano.
[Okay, a little primer on these levels: Level 0 – Quiet or No Alert; 1 – Low Level of Volcanic Unrest (instrument level temors detected); 2 – Moderate Level of Volcanic Unrest; 3 – High Level of Volcanic Unrest; 4 – Hazardous Eruption Imminent (gas and ash spewing, tremors detectable at human perception); 5 – Hazardous Eruption (magma) in Progress. You can read the definitions and get a daily report (or more frequent if high activity in progress) at the PHIVOLCS website, here:]
I tell you all this because if I had known about the level of activity at Taal Volcano last Fall when I was arranging to migrate to Philippines for the winter, I might have picked another location than Tagaytay. I knew there was a volcano there but it was allegedly ‘dormant’! I didn’t know it was ‘High Level of Volcanic Unrest’. I even knew last December when we took our little excurison to the volcano ridge by horseback it was Level 3, but didn’t really appreciate what that meant. And noone seemed concerned. Now we know that Level 3 can become Level 4 at any time, and Level 4 can become Level 5 at anytime. It’s amazing how people become innured to real physical danger when it is not actually happening.  
But once you’ve lived through 24 hourts of towering ash cloud, and 8 days of ash fall, and Ritcher Scale  1- 4 tremors in a 15th floor apartment, you have all new understanding. The volcano became ‘Hazardous Eruption Imminent’ on Sunday January 12; we ‘slept’ though the swaying night but startled awake with a ‘ onic boom’ and mighty heave of a 4.1 tremor. We waite, termorously ourselves, awaitng the next calp but none came. We left the building Monday morning with two suitcases and found new lodgings in Dasmariñas. Qubo Qabana is our new home and Carmen doesn’t want to go back. And who could blame her. DILG may have allowed residents to return to their domiciles but we have decided otherwise. 
I notified my landlord (who lives in California!) that we would be leaving the unit and requested return of my securty deposit and March prepaid rent. He wrote back reminding me that we had a contract and thjreatedned to apply my secruty deposit to the February rent amount if I failed to pay for February,apply the eight days of ofifical evacution as a credit.  I wrote back claiming force majeure. Our relationshship has become acrimonious. My own lawyer has taken Ernesto’s position. I need a new lawyer; good thing he’s too old for the bench.😀 But as he has oft said to me when offering advice (whether asked for or not), ‘since I hadn’t pay for it his advice is worthless.
So we’ve moved out of Tagaytay and made Dasmariñas our new domicile. Maybe I’ll need to rebrand this journal.

And on a lighter note, I hope you all enjoyed your Groundhog Day Celebration. I can report that at 6:05 PhST the sun rose over a clear sky and the rooster saw his shadow. I don’t know about groundhogs in The Philippines. Maybe I need to import one from Canada, call him Dasma Dan, or something. We’re going to entertain some family today with a devil food chocolate cake.
And for those of you who were not on my distribution list, here’s a copy of the 2020 GHD Greeting Card from AFS Consulting.

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