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Blame it on the rain

Before Ondoy: Doc Lito Gozum shows seminar participants the correct cartridge alignment for optimum music playback.

MANILA, Philippines - My heart goes out to thousands of our countrymen whose spirits may have been broken by family deaths and material losses during and after the rampage of Typhoon Ondoy. It is one of those instances in which a torrential downpour practically tears down the strength of even the bravest of characters among us. The devastation is immeasurable and its effect is now tattooed on our collective consciousness.

Faces of people in despair queuing for meager dole-outs, pictures of a once-robust community under mud, videos of cars swirling like paper toys from the force of charging currents — it may take some time before we can rise from this tragic event — but I’m sure we will. We were not prepared; nor was the government, seemingly, upon which we hope to lean on in times of dire need. Government response has been frustratingly turtle-slow and it has only the rains to blame. The typhoon brought bizarrely heavy rainfall; the government tried to cope, but its manpower and mobilization just could not keep up with the extraordinary rainstorm.

Not even some of my fellow audiophiles were spared. From Magallanes, Forbes Park, Valle Verde to Antipolo, hundreds of record collections and a number of expensive audio gadgets have been inundated and rendered useless by the flood. I can only commiserate with them. It takes years and patience to build a record collection and with the recent surge in demand because of the analog renaissance, it may be next to impossible to restore the rare collections they may have had. Lucky are those whose collections were only drenched by the water; their vinyl recordings are still very much playable once they’re cleaned dry. I’m not sure, though, about the fate of their album covers. The cover art is very much part of a record collection’s value. One dear friend was not so fortunate. The bulk of his collection crumbled under the weight of a metal cabinet where it was supposed to be safely stored. The cabinet gave in after being soaked by floodwaters for more than 24 hours. He and his family were out on a vacation somewhere south and his audio gear and prized collections were left to the elements.

And to think that we just successfully held an analog seminar a week ago. Everyone was in high spirits, sharing knowledge with newbies and meeting new friends; indeed, it was a whole day well spent. Resource persons were as eager as listeners to be patiently taught the basics. Not one participant left without learning a thing or two about their audio passion.

The audio evolution was eloquently discussed from the time of Edison and Berliner to Sony-Phillips compact discs. Proper turntable alignment, appropriate cleaning and care of precious LP collections and different types and brands of turntable one can own were likewise shared and discussed at length.

What brought the hose down, however, was a mini concert by violinist Joseph Esmilla. Discussing music appreciation, Joseph let his violin do the talking. And we liked what we heard.

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Yes, Ondoy doused cold water on those festivities, among its more serious after effects. Its virulent visit bruised many souls. But we must recover from the initial shock and rebuild. Tragedies can bring out the best and the worst among us, but we are also witness to the greatness of the human spirit to accomplish even the most daunting of tasks and regain a sense of bearing. We’re down, but not out. And to our government authorities, please don’t blame it on the rain.

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For comments or questions, please e-mail me at  or at You can also visit  or or you can tweet audiofiler at  for quick answers to your audio concerns.

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