Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Man on the Street: Ang init! (It's so hot!)

A Friend: Sana pwedeng ipa-air-condition ang buong Metro Manila, 'no? (How I wish it would be possible to have Metro Manila air-conditioned.)

The heat is on, as the song goes. Yes, it's summer in the Philippines -- time to hit the beach, hold fiestas and Santacruzans, and wear cool, white shirts.

Summer in the Philippines also means chronic water shortage (La Mesa Dam, the main reservoir that supplies the metropolis with water, hits the critical level every summer), a rush to get employed (high school and college graduates get dumped off the "assembly lines" every March), and veritably, hot heads gettting hotter.

About that last remark, I have no statistic to back that up. No study has been made about the relationship between the hot, humid weather and crime rates.

If we are to define the average Filipino's aversion towards the heat of the summer season, we can right away connect this aversion to colonial mentality that still pervades the consciousness of this blackmailed nation.

A Filipino is born in the heat of this tropical country. A Filipino grows amid the heat of this tropical country. A Filipino is taught that this tropical country has two seasons -- the wet and dry season. A Filipino experiences monsoon rains and typhoons and the El NiƱo and the blistering heat in this tropical country.

However, despite what the Filipino's senses and experiences tell him/her, some Filipinos still can't comprehend the heat of this tropical country, and will do everything to make this tropical country adapt to how they live.

Look at how houses are made in the Philippines. Majority of houses, from the austere homes of the middle class to the posh mansions of the elite, are made of concrete walls, sporting windows of translucent glass jalousies, roofed with galvanized iron roofs or heavy clay tiles.

Look at how college students are dressed in this tropical country. Most tertiary institutions require their students to wear uniforms made of thick textiles and closed black shoes complete with socks.

Look at how golf courses (that ate most agricultural lands near Metro Manila) guzzle water like thirsty demons, for their grass to remain green despite the withering heat of the summer season.

Most Filipinos are still hostage to the idea that technology can ease off the summer heat -- yes, in the short-term: air conditioners and electric fans all provide relief. However, these appliances use electricity that come from power plants that use water.

If Metro Manila were to be cooled by thousands of air conditioners, it would translate to megawatts of electricity that would, in turn, translate to millions of gallons of water.

And these millions of gallons of water is best spent to provide potable water to hundreds of urban communities and to irrigate acres and acres of rice fields and vegetable gardens in the countryside.

Take note that La Mesa Dam hits the critical level every summer.

There's a nationalist aspect to the sublime acceptance of the blistering heat of summer. A Filipino, born in a tropical country, should get used to the idea that this country has two seasons -- the wet and dry seasons.

During summer, one can save up on water, build a cool house made of indigenous materials such as nipa and bamboo, and engage himself/herself in productive activities such as learning to sew or make baskets (just like they did in olden times).

Alas, most Filipinos live in hot houses and work in air-conditioned places. Most Filipinos seem to have no choice.

That's the way they feel, which is, actually, a seeming reality.

An illusion.

The Filipino has a choice. The acceptance of the summer heat in this tropical country is very different from the acceptance of the status quo.

If it is revolutionary to build nipa houses (cool in the summer, easily maintained during the monsoons, non-lethal during earthquakes), then the Filipino needs to make a revolution.

Sad though, to note, that in this 21st century, world leaders equate revolution to terrorism.

How postmodern.

No comments: