Sometimes, the planets just seem so misaligned. First of all, I hope all readers and your families are safe and sound after the passing of Pedring, the latest typhoon to blow through Luzon which I am sure wreaked havoc with trees, homes, crops, etc. over the past two days. Days like today make you seek the bright side of any situation, and that is how I choose to end my day… I was in Cebu earlier today, and in the wee hours of the morning, during a particularly gusty windy period (not sure if this was related to Pedring up North or not), one of the massive kapok trees in the garden just snapped and keeled over. It was an extremely sad loss. I love large old trees (this one probably 50-70 years old and standing at least 6-7 storeys high) and they are often mentioned on this blog. Boohoo.
I think I first featured this particular tree in this post from 4 years ago, just before the Bourdain visit. The tree was also featured, here, here and here. It was the perch for a visiting sea hawk, here, and the focal point of a sweeping camera shot at the close of the No Reservations episode. Folks who have attended the two eyeballs in Cebu would remember the tree, here and here; and it was right beside the new outdoor space of Zubuchon.
On the bright side, the tree chose to fall at perhaps the only angle and space where it would do minimal damage. No one was hurt. It missed the new outdoor space that was finished just a couple of months ago, breaking just a few tiles on the steps leading up to the terrace. It crushed the kamuning hedge, took down all of our phone and telecomms lines, but then lay prostate on the grassy lawn, narrowly missing an electric pole and transformer, and its smaller branches just reaching the cement wall some 60-80 feet away! It missed falling on three company vehicles/vans just inches away, and it spared our offices, where it could have literally flattened several desks, computers, files, and important sculptures and artwork. So yes, we were extremely lucky and fortunate that the tree “chose” to take a kinder path down… Now the task of clearing several thousand kilos worth of wood will fall on the gardeners and hired hands with chain saws who will hopefully get the gardens back in shape for several events scheduled in mid-October, less one beautiful tree…
It seems the culprits were thousands of termites who had eaten much of the base of the tree, weakening it from inside (there were no obvious signs on the bark of the tree) and making it snap in a gusty windstorm. But with every death, there should be new life. Over the past three years, we have planted over a hundred hardwood trees on the property, and many of them are thriving. So while we will definitely miss the large and imposing kapok tree, others will grow to take its place. All of the wood from the felled tree will be used as kindling for our lechon and chicharon operations, so hundreds of Zubuchon clients will in some way benefit from the tree in the months ahead… Which takes me to around 9am this morning, just as we found out Philippine Airlines had no planes flying today… Scheduled on the 8am-ish flight was a VIP (a Very Important Pig for a Very Important Person). All of of our clients are very important to us, but inevitably, some lechons are headed to seriously VIP VIP’s… And it was booked on PAL cargo. So no lechon for VIP VIP today. Thankfully, the client was aware of the PAL issues and fully understood this was “force majeure” of sorts and out of our hands. Next problem, how was I going to get home on the 540pm PAL flight if there were no planes flying? This was a major issue as Cebu had some 2,000+ other folks in the same predicament.
The short story? I am home. And happy to be home. And I won’t narrate what I had to do to get home. I commiserate with the thousands of passengers who are stranded or discombobulated by the PAL strike/walkout/slowdown today. At the airport this evening, after a stunning landing on an Airphil Express A320, in wickedly stormy conditions, I glanced at an amazing yet sad sight — some 28+ PAL planes all parked and double-parked at the PAL terminal. Operations disrupted today will affect thousands of passengers around the country and the world. I wouldn’t fly PAL for the next few weeks at least until things get back to normal. So goodnight, it’s time for me to get some much needed sleep, but I will think of the kapok tree with a smile on my face as I doze off into lalaland.
Note: Top photo taken by JD.