Perfect storm

MY FOUR CENTAVOS - Dean Andy Bautista - The Philippine Star

There are certain events that jolt us out of our comfort zones and into the cold realization that the strongest humans are actually puny creatures when confronted with Mother Nature’s wrath. Like the biblical Tower of Babylon, we create monuments that testify to the ingenuity of mankind. But from time to time, nature reminds us that such structures should never be built on the brittle foundation of hubris. And while I believe that one of humanity’s greatest strengths lies in its constant desire to improve upon the status quo, we should always adopt an attitude of becoming humility and respect for a force larger and infinitely more powerful than ourselves.  

Superstorm Sandy walloped the Northeastern United States like a knockout punch. She literally and figuratively stopped the proud “City that never sleeps.” Sandy was also dubbed as “Frankenstorm” as its monstrous presence was felt during the days leading to Halloween. Images of the carnage flood the internet, and the most recent estimate placed the death toll at 70. Surprisingly, many of the victims did not drown but were crushed or trapped by the uprooted fallen trees.

Sandy was a real life rendition of the fabled “perfect storm”. Some of you may remember the 2000 film which was based on a novel by Sebastian Junger. Together with meteorologist Bob Case, they enumerated the three elements of a “perfect storm”: 1) warm air from a low-pressure system coming from one direction; 2) a flow of cool and dry air generated by a high-pressure from another direction; and 3) tropical moisture provided by [a strong hurricane].” Sandy’s combination of wind, flood, storm surge and snow would have provided the film with a “true story” backdrop.

During “Undas,” we remembered loved ones who had gone on ahead. But whether we mourn tragedies of the present or the past, let us not forget that “every cloud has its silver lining.” And so during trying times, when all hope seems lost and the life that you once knew appears upside down, count on the fact that for every terrible “perfect storm” encountered, there will be sunlit “perfect weather.”

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Plane fare: I recently took a United Airlines (UAL) flight to Guam. I was somewhat excited as I have not taken UAL since the 90s when I was still based in New York. At that time, UAL was a premium carrier which you only took if the trip was paid for by the company. 

My journey did not start on a good note as boarding procedures were long and tedious. It was difficult locating gate 16 at NAIA 1. Given that Guam is part of US territory, the body and bag search was extensive yet done manually. 

Entering the 737-700 aircraft, I was not impressed. The business class section was cramped. The leather seats looked and felt tired. It also did not recline well. Neither were they equipped with individual monitors. Rather one had to look up to watch the movie using flimsy earphones which have a hard time sticking to your ears.

The food was bland and unattractively prepared. Champagne was being served in a plastic cup. The flight attendants for both legs were males who were not service oriented. You did not get the feeling they were going out of their way to make your flight comfortable. The rest room was sparse as well with nothing but a liquid soap dispenser to show for — a poor comparison to the amenities offered by Asian and Middle Eastern carriers.  

On the return flight, I stopped by the lounge. Again, the facilities left much to be desired. There were no computers. No real food except chips and nuts. The departure was delayed because passengers from a connecting flight had not arrived. A fellow Filipino traveler remarked that it was better when it was still being run by Continental.   

Interestingly, United’s slogan is “Planes change but our values don’t.” Almost 20 years since I first rode the airline, it seems that the slogan should go the other way around. 

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Dental lounge: On a more complimentary note, I am certain many from my generation will relate when I say that visiting the dentist was one of the least pleasurable experiences during our growing up years. Etched in my young memory are the sound and the smell of the “barrena”, the “tugging and pulling” sensation accompanying a tooth extraction and the constant “mumog” during any dental procedure. Hence, you can understand why it was with a heavy sense of trepidation that I entered the Gan Advanced Osseogeneration Center (GAOC) located at Greenbelt Residences which I thought was just a fancy name for a dental clinic. I was mistaken. GAOC was not JUST a dental clinic.

Entering the place, one already gets the feeling that it is different. The staffs are courteous, neat and efficient. I was led to a spacious room (not a cubicle) with state of the art equipment. The procedure to be performed is meticulously explained through a power point presentation by the attending dentist. I was then brought to the X-ray room where I was made to wear a vest designed to protect the patient from radiation.  The x-ray machine is not only interactive but also plays violin music while it performs its task.

I then returned to the room. Before the procedure started, I was asked which film I wanted to watch using a 40 inch LCD. Just like in a plane, I was given over 10 options to choose from. I picked the Avengers. During the 40-minute procedure, I only made “mumog” twice as the efficient suction drained the liquids. And I did not feel any pain or discomfort because perhaps there was none or maybe because I was too engrossed watching the movie. 

Indeed going to the dentist has never been as pleasurable. I am looking forward to my next visit so that I can finish the movie that I started. 

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Greetings: On this feast day of St. Martin de Porres, let me extend birth anniversary best wishes to three non-blood brothers: Boey Cruz, Timmy Limcaoco and Los Angeles based Aaron Gaborro. Greetings as well to Sisa Lopez and Tess Sta. Maria who both work with PCGG Commissioner Maita Chan-Gonzaga.

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“In thickest darkness, the stars shine brightest.” Henry David Thoreau


E-mail: [email protected]


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