My friend Ben wrote an essay about rain, and I liked it so I'm sharing it here :)
--How Rains Could Shape TimeBy: Ben Muni
The rains went on for a week about this time last year. It was a horrendous experience of being cooped inside the house for several days, without having to see the sun shine or hear the birds chirp outside. It was oppressive, as one of my friends told me in a text message. When the rains stopped, what we saw was devastation. A deluge of earth flowing with water that was no longer put on hold by the soil washed away houses and buildings in La Trinidad, Benguet, killing more than 75 people, many of whom related to one another by blood or by marriage. Roads and bridges were washed away, sometimes with people and animals on them. Houses were submerged in torrential floodwaters. It was a catastrophe of apocalyptic terms, the kind that could give the signal of the beginning of the end. The rains that brought all these misery and suffering, we call Typhoon Pepeng. The rains that Pepeng brought last year stopped the hands of time for the people of Northern and Central Luzon. Hours seemed like days for those waiting for help on top of their flooded homes. Days seemed like months for people who had to temporarily endure the loss of modern convenience given by our electronic gadgets and appliances due to power black-outs. The rains shaped our perception of time.
As I write this note, the air is clear outside, freshly washed by the light rain that greeted Monday afternoon rush hour traffic. As I walked under the stars of a cloudless night, my thoughts began to drift towards the simple idea of how rain has so pervasively shaped our perception of time. From the simplest, light drizzle that kisses your cheeks on an early morning stroll to the piercing intensity of a thunderstorm that threatens to rip your umbrella apart, all our notions of time during these moments become so subjectively molded by how we respond to such aqueous stimuli that surround us. Even the horizontal rain that Baguio is known for because of turning umbrellas into warrior-like shields could leave you disoriented about how much time you spent in trying to protect yourself from the hydrologic arrows that a sudden downpour aimed at you while you were walking down Session Road. It is only a matter of time before you realize that rain “stole” your time.
There are days that I find myself watching people from the window of a Session Road café, how in a sort of rambunctious fashion of people’s walking paces change from leisurely to hurried then finally trotting, hoping to escape from being stranded in one of those islands of people that the rain creates when it starts to do its waterworks display. Taxis become so hard-to-find you feel like you were looking for a horse-drawn carriage in the middle of EDSA. Jeepneys become miniature versions of Indian trains, so densely packed with people and goods, and also with the abominable cold virus. But for those who are inside their offices or in their favorite watering holes and hang-outs, the sight of people walking in a seemingly orchestrated solemn parade on the wet sidewalk could be one of the most enduring images of a city soaked with rain. City time gives way to the caprice of nature when it rains.
Rainy days are also time for going back to the old ways of the world. Reading a good book while sipping hot chocolate or chatting away time with friends on stories of the living and the dead, and all those in-between the living and the dead, are among the best ways to keep that cold feet warm. The more adventurous and free spirited ones commune with a different kind of spirit during rainy days, the spirit of San Miguel and his equally obliging friend named Johnny Walker. All these things in the name of warm and dry company to pass away time as the rain takes its time to visit every nook and cranny that it finds in its way.
Most city people despise the rain, with all the inconveniences and sometimes toll on lives and properties that it causes. The images of urban neighborhoods flooded by the waters that Tropical Storm Ondoy unleashed last year serve as grim reminders of how the rain could easily takeover the landscape of a metropolis that was built for decades in a matter of hours. But rural folks, for the most part, welcome the start of the rains. Much of their activities are tied to the seasons anyway, so it doesn’t matter to them if the rains come as expected. It puzzles them, however, when the rains come either too early in summer or too late during the supposedly monsoon season. Planting and harvesting, as well as fishing and house building, all depend on the rhythms of the seasons. The rhythms of the seasons, however, depend on the rhythm of the rain. Calendrical time tells the beginning and end of the rainy season, but the rainy season sets the course of how the other seasons before or after it will go. Summers depend their length of duration not on how long they intend to scorch the earth and everything on top of it but on how soon or how late the rainy season would come. In other countries, where there are more than two seasons, autumn and winter also depend on how much rainwater is available for freezing when the earth starts to shy away from the shining and shimmering brightness of the sun. Modern science calls this the hydrologic cycle. Old tradition calls this the way of the world.
Every people have its own relationship with the rain. Filipinos are no exception to this. Much about of the negatively appraised concept of Filipino time is actually a product of how we Filipinos as a people have learned through time to adapt to the exigencies that the weather presents. A heavy rain is always a good if not an acceptable excuse for coming late for work or to school. Some even use the excuse not to come at all to work or school. But the rain also makes us step back from what we are doing, especially among city folks whose only time for reflection is being increasingly invaded by all sorts of distractions, including social media and portable forms of information and communications technology. It gives us the opportunity to view time in sync again with what nature has designed for us. I say this because our conceptions of time are products of cultural creation. We are after all, as Stephen Hawking puts it in The Grand Design, the lords of creation. But the way that nature presents time is something that cannot be ignored, especially how that notion of time as reflected by how we respond to the rain is being pushed towards our inner selves. The rain destroys properties and takes away lives but it also heals and keeps us at bay from becoming automatons that our daily lives could shape us into.
When it rains it pours, as an old saying goes. But how often do we associate this pouring of water with a pouring of emotions, with the fleeting moments when mind and soul commune with the drenched earth and air, with the transience of life that we only realize when an old friend or a colleague does not share with us the next rainy season of our lives? Early on, while I was starting to write this note, I was tempted to call it “The Unbearable Lightness of Raining.” But then I realized that it does not capture what I want to say here. What I want to say here is that rain shapes time, not just our perception of it, but time itself. Rain shapes both natural and cultural time. It dictates the seasons as well as our reasons. This is not surprising though; for the earth is 60% water and our bodies are 80% composed of water.
It reminded me of the song 'Look Up', by Stars:You're cold, maybe you just missed the sun
You fall, feeling like it's just begun
So far keeping it together's been enough
But look up: the rain is falling, looks like love
Rain has meant different things to me at different points of my life. There was a time it reminded me of heartbreak, long phone calls during a storm, and a break-up when the skies cleared. Then, a decade after that, I fell for a boy who was literally followed by rain wherever he went, and breaking skies took on a more positive meaning.
Then Ondoy happened, and strong rains meant fear for me. Death, destruction, flash floods.
And now, all I know is that I love running in the rain, the cool on my face. I love climbing in the rain, smiling at how I willingly expose myself to the elements.
I don't love it as much when I'm cooped up inside, in the city, surrounded by pavement and concrete.
Rain still signifies many things to me, now, at this one moment in time.