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cecile s. yumul
cecile s yumul DAYBREAK, near mid-August 2007.

Gentle breeze shaking showers of fine rainwater leftover from the old trees; multicolored driveway of fallen leaves after nature's wrath. Aroma of coffee brewing. Mothers with babies cradled in their arms, waiting for the morning sun. Old men with backs bent from decades of hard labor, sitting on even older wooden benches, puffing cigars, their eyes staring at the play of gray and white clouds.

Anticipating the taming of the first storm? Dreading the onslaught of the next howler close by? Sense above all expectations the absence of night frogs croaking and birds' chorus at dawn, as one storm departs while another approaches. So many scenes flashed when I went out on the street early morning today, at break of dawn, to reckon the aftermath and the interim between two storms that passed through in three days.

There is a certain feeling of nostalgia that comes with walking down the street after a storm.

Some four decades ago, in the 1960s, streets were of gravel and carabao grass; canals were dug deep when the end of summer came, while piled up alongside were jute sacks stuffed with reddish soil. When heavy rain poured, you saw children come out with paper boats or makeshift fishing rods; others pranced and danced about singing in celebration amid the heavy downpour. (Listen to the Arti Sta. Rita chorale's rendering of "Kauran" on its second CD Pamanuli.)

Sitting atop the jute sacks and staring patiently at the clear rainwater coursing swiftly, one would get regaled with a race of paper boats in varying sizes. Wait a while longer— witness stray gurami, catfish, mudfish carried away by strong currents flowing through fishponds. After which, the rain having subsided, catch the opening of windows wide to let fresh air permeate into houses. No mosquitoes to fear. Coming next was the Chorus of the Frogs and other creatures signalling the onset of the Rainy Season.

Back to the 21st century.

On any given stormy day, when even inner streets are cemented and the canals concreted and covered, as the hard and heavy rain begins to pour, one finds children scuttling in different directions, mostly heading for home. For fear of getting ill? (From a variety of skin allergies or asthma, or from catching cough and colds, influenza, and other respiratory tract infections, and from leptospirosis threat lurking in the murky overflow of stagnant canals?)

No more clear rainwater rushing in the open canals to race the paper boats. Expect children to dance and drench themselves in the sulfuric acid-laden rain? Rather suffer the windows to shut— and stay shut (with air-conditioners turned on instead to avoid breathing in airborne viruses). No tadpoles to be born, therefore aborted the Chorus of the Frogs. Plug in instead to the Plague of Mosquitoes and Dengue orchestrating the onset of the Rainy Season.

[About the author. Cecile Santos Yumul is a veteran award winning Broadcast Journalist, a visionary teacher (Most Outstanding Teacher of the Philipines in 1992), a nationalist (Most Outstanding Kapampangan for Education in 1993), an environmentalist, and a dedicated daughter. She has over 35 years experience in the field of arts as an actor, director, and author. She is a published writer (Woman's Magazine) of essays, poems, short stories, and social commentaries. She currently resides in Lakandula, Mabalacat, Pampanga with her Mother, 18 dogs, doves, and bonsais.]

-Posted: 1:08 AM 8/26/07 | More of this author on eK!