I had one of the most harrowing rides of my life yesterday.  Me and my friends were on our way down to Manila from our weekend in Baguio and we met Typhoon Frank head-on, getting the full strength of it somewhere in La Union.

Most of us woke up that morning to text messages from concerned family members, informing us of the Signal Number 3 in Manila, and of the typhoon heading our way.  We went on with our itinerary, ending with a trip to the market and lunch at Camp John Hay, but with the typhoon still in mind.  We really just wanted to go home, and our main concern was to go down the mountain before it hits there.

We weren’t able to leave Baguio as early as we would have wanted since it wasn’t easy to move fast with two very young kids (a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old) in tow.  By the time we finished lunch at around 2.30pm, the rain and the fog have already started.  We went down via Marcos Highway.  It was near-zero visibility.  We drove through the fog and rain with occasional strong winds.  At one point, we saw a portion of the road on the other side littered with soil from a mini-landslide.

We were able to breathe a sigh of relief when we reached level ground and the weather seemed relatively calmer, but it was a short-lived respite.  The wind and rain suddenly picked up again, much stronger than before, and we were like “Oh sh*t, this is it!”  It was almost like Typhoon Milenyo more than a year ago.  We drove on since it would have been even more dangerous to stop in a very open area.  We gauged the situation and decided that if things didn’t improve by the time we reached the first town/city center, we would stop to look for either a hotel or an enclosed area to park and wait out the storm.  Fortunately, the conditions improved after about 30 minutes and before we reached a town proper.  It was pretty much uneventful from then on, except for a funny turn that involved an urgent need for a bathroom but missing the turn that would have led us to the nearest one.

The heaviest rain fell right as we entered North Luzon Expressway.  We could only see the cars ahead because of the hazard lights, otherwise, it would’ve been total darkness.  There were no lights in some portions of the Expressway.  It was a slow drive from Pampanga to Bulacan, where the weather finally settled down to steady, moderate rain and minimal wind.

This trip back to Manila was an adrenaline rush in a perverse sort of way.  There was an element of danger, but oddly enough, I was never truly scared.  Maybe it was because we were one another’s safety nets.  We were in a two-car convoy, so we were each other’s “emergency vehicle and emergency crew”.

It seems like almost every trip I’ve had this year has had something unusual – all caused by the weather!  As they say in the vernacular, “walang pinipili“.  It didn’t matter even when we traveled during times when the weather was supposed to be at its best; something still went wrong with it.

One a more serious note: It is also a fact that typhoons are getting stronger – and developing more often.  Environmental alarm bells should already be ringing steadily, but those who sound them are more often than not looked upon as fools and silly alarmists.  But who’ll be the fools in the end?

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