PAGASA: Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration
(pagasa translates as "hope")
Years 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013:
Auring, Barok, Crising, Darna, Emong, Feria, Gorio, Huaning, Isang, Jolina, Kiko, Labuyo, Maring, Nanang, Ondoy, Pabling, Quedan, Roleta, Sibak, Talahib, Ubbeng, Vinta, Wilma, Yaning and Zuma.
Years 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014:
Agaton, Basyang, Caloy, Dagul, Espada, Florita, Gloria, Hambalos, Inday, Juan, Kaka, Lagalag, Milenyo, Neneng, Ompong, Paeng, Quadro, Rapido, Sibasib, Tagbanwa, Usman, Venus, Wisik, Yayang and Zeny.
Years 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015:
Amang, Batibot, Chedeng, Dodong, Egay, Falcon, Gilas, Harurot, Ineng, Juaning, Kabayan, Lakay, Manang, Niña, Onyok, Pogi, Quiel, Roskas, Sikat, Tisoy, Ursula, Viring, Wang-wang, Yoyoy and Zigzag.
Years 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016:
Ambo, Biday, Cosme, Dugong, Enteng, Flor, Giling, Hataw, Inggo, Julian, Kenkoy, Lawin, Manoy, Nonoy, Osang, Pandoy, Quinta, Rigodon, Sigla, Totoy, Usa, Viajero, Wasiwas, Yoyong and Zosimo.
Filipino names of typhoons, Queena N. Lee-Chua, Inquirer News Service, http://www.inq7.net/globalnation/sec_fea/2003/jan/30-04.htm
“There is the early rain and the latter rain.” Joel 2:23
The early rains are gentle. They arrive after the worst of the heat. The first rain spatters and steams on hot asphalt, evaporating so quickly the road is dry again. When the asphalt melts to the color of charcoal, you know the rain has won. Our parched world softens, drinking in a green so deep it shoots to your groin. You can taste the rich chocolate earth. Nestled in the soft twilight, cicada chirp contentedly and city frogs retrieve their voices. This beautiful wet darkness nestles in your belly and sleeps there.
It is the latter rain that worries us. After a month or two of early rain (drenching, misty, wild, drizzle), a musty scent of fungus settles over everything. Book covers curl, leather shoes turn green. Then typhoon season begins. Air darkens before the real winds come as the sky thickens and clots with ironwood clouds. Then sharp rain arrives, slanting sidewards. The typhoons swing in over the wind-wracked easternmost islands of Leyte and Samar. June through November, we go through the alphabet: Asiang, Biring, Konsing, Dading. Sometimes the winds are brisk like the wag of a wary dog. But the wicked ones are wild and reckless, and their names are “retired.”
There are two ways to know a typhoon is coming. You can watch the leaves of a star apple tree turn upside down, since the underside is purple. That will tell you a bad typhoon is coming. Or you can listen for the signals. Typhoon Signal No. 1 always begins low, droning and ominous. It takes its time, slowly rising to an arch of a wail that ripples the back of Manila. At its peak it hovers for a long breath and then descends, down down down. As the Signal drops, all the heads of the schoolchildren in their classrooms rise, hands clutching pencils or ballpoint pens poised on lined paper, waiting. If there is a mating call, a second wail that rises as the first descends, they will be sent home. Typhoon Signal No. 2’s are the furies that banish electricity, kill phones, uproot trees, collapse shanties and turn avenues to brown lakes that stall cars, offering cigarette boys a second income. Typhoon Signal No. 3 brings disaster. Dading was a Signal No. 3 in late June 1964, the worst typhoon in almost 100 years.
Annie nudges me, “Kerry, a bad typhoon is coming.”
“How come? There’s no signal.” It’s gusty and gray, but Annie is always right.
“Kita mo doon, star apple tree? Leaves are purple.”
I peer through the fence where the star apple and Phyllis live. It’s in the far corner of their yard near the wall. The wind is ruffling its leaves like a skirt turned up and you can see the purple undersides.
In an hour, we hear Typhoon Signal Number One, then Number Two.
When we’re all in the house, Annie looks at me meaningfully.
When Dading crashed through Manila at 150 miles an hour, (slow compared to today's super-typhoons)) all the star apple trees must have shaken their purple leaves with warning, but I didn’t see them.
All the adults in the home have materialized. We have a typhoon routine. Mother says quietly, “Dolly, look for the candles” and “Kerry, Johanna, go get the towels.” We will roll the tall wooden capiz inlaid shutters over our large screen windows only when the rain banks towards us, the house becomes a wooden cave with the windows closed. Then we wedge the towels between the wooden windows and the ledge to catch rain leaking and keep the windows from rattling. In typhoon season, one is always prepared. The cook rummages through the refrigerator before the lines go down. She checks our stock of corned beef, spam and Vienna sausages. But like everyone we have a gas butane stove, so there will be hot food. We fill the buckets in the bathrooms with water for bathing and the toilet. No electricity, no water. No phones either.
Now, with nothing to do while the storm encircles us, we pick up our usual pattern. When we're younger, we pull out the dress up suitcase and we play cinderella, a princess, gypsy travellers. Now we play Parcheesi or Come to Capernium.
Dading’s purple clouds swell through Luzon and then fill the Manila sky with a big black bruise. The super typhoon like ‘the wrath of God’ lashes out with a great gnashing fury against everything in its path. Blades of sharp rain whip our house sidewards first one way and then another. It bangs and pummels our galvanized iron roof. The radio tells us, “keep inside, keep inside,” but too many people are losing their homes. Where can they go in the wild winds? Shuddering and wailing, all the trees swing back and forth in the wind as though they were on rubber bands. It goes on and on. Crash! An acacia limb hits the ground. Crash! Another on the street. The rain, the rain, the rain, we are soggy in the dark with the candles flickering since the electricity has been off all day.
“Go to bed.” Dad’s tired voice settles the creepy dark. Maybe the anitos, old spirits who lived in this place before World War II, bounce against the walls of our house. Tiny scratching claws walk on the roof, so I pull the sheet over my head. Nobody can save me from this dread. When I wake in the pungent dark of drenched wood, the winds are no longer screeching but broken branches are still skipping across our roof. The follow-up winds have arrived and they are grumbling to themselves as they sweep up after their fierce cousin. I fall asleep again and wake into a velvet quiet after the fury.
The next morning, Manila is roused to its post-catastrophe routines. We emerge, dazed and ready to get busy. No school, no work, no electricity, no newspapers, no phones, and sometimes, no house. Later we will learn that Dading tore homes from 400,000 and left 40 dead. Scott and I climb around entangled broken branches in the front yard. There are downed trees everywhere, we see some farther down our street, thankfully not my favorite kalachuchi that peeks up past the peach colored compound walls on the corner. Its soggy five-petal yellow and white flowers float amidst the papers, plastic bags, leaves, twigs and other debris in the brown water of our flooded street. We join our neighbors wading by the Reyes Sari Sari store on Indiana which is open for business since the owner lives above the store. We can see from here that even Taft Avenue is a wide rushing river. It draws all of us like a wet magnet.
We join a crowd who linger at the corner of Indiana and Taft. “Kita mo ‘yon,” someone mutters to his kasama, who makes tsk tsk sounds and shakes his head. We turn and gasp—two blocks down from us, a mammoth acacia that shaded the entry to PGH is down on the ground. Vendors and neighbors mutter to themselves as the water runs around our legs. What kind of evil winds were these? As far as we can see down Taft, the huge gentle acacias lie sprawled in muddy pools as awkward as fallen elephants, their leafy crowns cracked and twisted. They seem ashamed of their nakedness, their enormous root systems gaping and helpless against the cheerful blue sky. Dading’s name is retired.