Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Freak Snowstorm Hits Manila !

Posted by butalidnl on 8 December 2010

(This is a fake news broadcast, on what would happen if there really was a snowstorm in Manila.)

MANILA, Philippines, December 10. A freak snowstorm hit Metro Manila this afternoon. It was 1 pm when a huge black cloud covered the city, making it seem like a thunderstorm was underway. But, instead of rain, temperatures came down and snow started falling all over the city! People could not believe their eyes, and started to jump with excitement: “Sa wakas, nagkaka-snow rin tayo sa Pilipinas!” And even though it was rather cold, people were so overwhelmed with the snow that it seemed nobody noticed.. For a while at least.

Now, at 10 pm, things are so different. There is a crisis situation in our hands! The country is used to heat, but this sudden cold weather and snow is not too nice after all. Let us bring you reports from all over the city.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Hundreds of people are stranded at NAIA, because their flights are not able to take off from the international airport. With their flights cancelled, many people have gone home or to hotels for the night. However, there are still those who are forced to spend the night at NAIA.

The snowfall, which started in the afternoon, has covered the runways with a layer of snow; making it impossible for planes to take-off or land. Airport authorities say that they are not equipped to take the snow off the runways, or to de-ice the wings of planes. Thus, in the interest of safety, they decided to close the airport by 2 pm yesterday.

International flights have been forced to land at Hong Kong,  Legaspi or Cebu. The freak weather seems to have affected only from Northern Luzon to Metro Manila, leaving the Visayas and the Bicol region clear of snow.

EDSA, Corner Kamuning. Traffic is going at a snail’s pace, if it is going at all. The snow is 6 inches thick here, and cars have to go slow in order to avoid sliding. There have been a lot of accidents already, but these have generally been cars sliding and hitting other cars. No major accidents really. The high incidence of these “bumping” accidents have caused police to totally ignore them; they have their hands full trying to ensure that the traffic flows.

There are reports of many cars not being able to start; probably due to frozen cooling systems. The buses and cars on the road, however, seem warm enough so as to avoid having their cooling systems freeze.

The LRT line seems to be operating normally; or at least as normal as it could, given the circumstances.  Workers have resorted to manually clearing the interchange links at the end of the lines (as in, shovelling the snow). The trains have to change tract at the end of their routes, and the problem is that the snow gets in the way of these interchanges. Management has decided to let the trains run through the night;  in order to serve the many people still on the streets (trying to go home, or en route to one of the “refugee centers”).

SM Mega Mall. The mall is still open! Following the president’s call for all malls to remain open overnight, SM Mega Mall, and other malls; as well as centers such as Araneta Colliseum  have opened their doors to thousands of cold weather refugees –  people who literally are in danger of freezing from the cold. The Philippine National Red Cross is distributing blankets and hot soup in these centers. However, it seems that the supply of blankets is woefully inadequate.  The place is packed, and most people are just sitting down, and oblivious to the throng of people around them; after all, more people mean more warmth.

SSS Village, Marikina. There are reports that water and electricity are out in this area. It seems that some waterlines burst as a result of the cold weather, and electricity lines have snapped because of the cold, or because snow caused trees to fall on lines. So, it is now a dark and cold evening for the people of this area.

There is an eerie silence in the place. There are no vehicles moving around, and people are huddled in their houses, under blankets, and  with candles lit.

Philippine General Hospital, Manila. The staff of the PGH has been on emergency status almost since the snow started falling in the afternoon. As one would expect, there would be people suffering from the cold. There are reports of hundreds of deaths because of the cold – mostly older people, babies, or people with respiratory illnesses.

People are also coming in with broken bones, due to having slid on the snow. Hundreds of cases have overwhelmed the orthopedic staff.  People with broken arms and wrists, mainly, which people get when they attempt to break their fall. There are also people who have been “bumped” by cars which have slid on the roads.

Snow in the Philippines is sure to be a disaster.  This “newscast” is an example of what would happen if it did snow. Snow belongs only in places like “Snow World”, in Star City, Manila. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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