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Fire and rain

I live only a block away from the Gapan City market. 

That early morning when the market caught fire, I was awakened by a short burst of fire truck siren which I found strange. Could somebody naughty have pressed the siren button, I wondered, then checked the time and found it was a little past 2:00 AM, and went back to sleep.

Two hours later, I was again roused by sustained fire truck sirens -- plural! -- and found that there was no electricity.

I looked out the window and saw a reddish glow in the direction of the market.

I hurriedly put on clothes -- I sleep naked (blush!) -- and armed with my camera enabled cell phone, went to the fire site and found hundreds of other curious people watching as flames consumed what remained of the front of the market complex.

After nearly an hour of watching and "scripting" with some neighbors ("scripting" is what I call the process of exchanging what-ifs and what-nows about an incident whose exact details you hardly know anything about, e.g. a vehicular accident, flood, fire), I decided to catch up on sleep, but the incessant wailing of the sirens won't permit me.

At 7:00 AM, unable to control my curiosity about what the market now looked like, I made a second trip to the place and found it still smoldering.

Then I realized something that must have also dawned on my other kababayans much, much earlier -- now,  where do we buy food?!

I cooked my last cup of rice the previous night and planned to replenish my stock and buy grocery products the following day. After that fire, buy WHERE?

Fortunately, there was one rice outlet I could think of -- at the parish center, where NFA rice is sold to indigents at nineteen bucks per kilo. No, I didn't have to give the sales person any lame excuse like the NFA rice was really for my pet cats (who, by the way, nibble on Friskies when I can afford them).

That night, I had my first taste of NFA rice. It wasn't as bad as I first thought. Well, better than the taste of fire damaged P25 a kilo Super Rice from my market "suki", if she even managed to salvage some from the ruins of her store.

Before I end, take note: fire, rain, flood, earthquake, tornado. That's what Novo Ecijanos experienced in the past two weeks.

Two weeks ago, the Oratio Imperata was being recited in Catholic churches to ask for divine intervention to solve the draught. Last Sunday, the priest asked the faithful to implore God not to send too much rain.

No, God won't go crazy with the sort of contradictory things we ask from Him. After all, God is God.

[August 15, 2007]