In case of a blackout
MANILA, Philippines - Blackout. Or 'brownout' if you actually went through them in the 90s. It's a word that brings about a tide of mixed emotions.
At it’s peak then, Metro Manila had no electricity for 8 to 12 hours on a daily basis. Homes stocked up on big boxes of Guitar matches, candles, flashlights, batteries, and some families eventually purchased generator sets. Moms would snap at kids to not open the refrigerator door, kids would eventually sleep in their sweat under mosquito nets, and despite the popular notion, it was difficult to have a good meal under candlelight.
It was a huge inconvenience. The constant shut down and sudden power surge of electricity took its toll on many electrical appliances. Food was going bad inside refrigerators that were not cool enough, and preparing meals was difficult. Studying was a challenge under dark and humid circumstances, and families with babies? Let’s not even go there.
Young people from that era, on the other hand, may have not-so-drastic memories of that not-so-distant past. Kids played taguan (hide and seek) or patintero under the moonlight. Teenagers broke out their guitars and ‘song hits’ and had impromptu ‘unplugged’ sessions.
If there was a positive outcome from brownouts, it can be said that the forced disconnection made people bond more. Families that were used to having meals in front of the TV set got to catch up and have meaningful conversations. For some of the adults, it was a time to have a couple of beers and a dish of salty, garlicky peanuts to go with rounds of pusoy dos, and have discussions about the brownout scenario with neighbors.
Should power outages happen again, here’s a list of suggestions to make the most out of it as inspired by the era that has survived it:
Have an ‘unplugged’ karaoke session
Time to break out that acoustic guitar and work on your chords or sing songs to pass the time.
Before the advent of the Internet, music enthusiasts relied on chord books or ‘song hits’ to master their favorite songs on guitar. Jingle Magazine was a popular choice at the time, serving up chords and lyrics of popular classics and Top 40 hits. It has since been immortalized in song by Raimund Marasigan of Sandwich with the lines, “Sa Jingle Magazine natutong mag gitara” from the song “Betamax”.
These days, young people that want to learn how to play the guitar or any musical instrument only need to type a quick search on YouTube and choose from hundreds of tutorials. There are nifty applications like Ultimate Guitar and the popular Garage Band, to help out would-be musicians.
So when a blackout occurs, how about giving a little tribute to the era when blackouts broke out, and play some Eraserheads songs and Extreme’s More than Words?
Play cards or board games
Yes, pusoy dos is a classic blackout pastime and if you actually don’t know how to play, this is a good time to learn.
You can have a great time playing cards even without any betting involved, but another great option is to play board games. If you still have them, bring out the Monopoly, Scrabble and Boggle sets. These timeless board games are good at killing time and encouraging some friendly competition between players.
During a blackout, just be mindful of the small pieces and even the play money that comes with the games. You wouldn’t want candle wax dripping on them, accidentally stepping on these small tokens (ouch!) or the play money catching fire (yipes!). Choose a comfy spot, put something heavy over loose papers and don’t forget to have some cold drinks and snacks handy.
Share ghost stories
What better way to take advantage of the darkness than to spook each other out? Gather your friends, set the mood with a solitary candlelight and share some classic tales usually reserved for All Soul’s Day.
Get everybody screaming and hugging each other with tales of the ‘white lady’ that roams the twilight hours of Balete Drive, the anguished souls of the workers that allegedly got buried in when scaffolding gave way during the construction of Manila Film Center, or the restless souls of foreign missionaries stationed in Baguio City who were killed during World War II.
Will blackouts make a comeback?
This year, Metro Manila barely escaped going through another period of rotational blackouts. Unfortunately, certain areas of Mindanao still go through 2 to 3 hours of rotational blackouts due to limited supply of energy in the region.
Of course the better situation to hope for is still a blackout-free one. But taking into consideration factors such as the area where you live, incoming typhoons and natural disasters and their gravity, as well as power plant maintenance shut downs, the likelihood of experiencing power outages remain likely.
It is key to prepare and really instill energy efficiency and safety measures in the household. Once a blackout hits, unplug appliances and turn off electricals. Keep a closer eye on small children, apply insect repellant if necessary, and make sure they are in light clothing. If using candles, make sure they are placed in a container that can safely catch dripping wax.
Should blackouts occur again, make sure that the household observes safety precautions, and might as well take the opportunity to disconnect and take a break from hectic schedules and routines. It’s one way of looking at the bright side. - Rappler.com