By JULLIE Y. DAZA
Friday the 13th. Pay day. Twelve days before Christmas. Traffic on SLEX. Not enough dissuaders? How about the fickle weather?
None of the above was going to keep us from giving a balikbayan from Canada the tour of her life. With Ms. Waze as our amazing guide, off we went to Silang and Tagaytay, the expected weekend jam be damned!
CALAX, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar’s labor of love, was the first surprise on the road. Connecting Cavite and Laguna via an unfolding ribbon of smooth concrete several kilometers long (at least 10, I imagine), the newly minted expressway allowed our little Almera to hit the high notes on the speedometer with few other cars keeping us company. What a smooth, swift ride – we were in Silang before our watches were aware of the shortened distance.
The next surprise was the weather. It’s the time for Christmas clime over there, folks, a couple degrees cooler than Manila’s extended summer. Starting at dusk and throughout the night, the breezes were so strong they whooshed and whipped up eerie sounds rustling through trees, leaves, and grass; no need for airconditioning. From morning as the hours ticked away, it was three seasons in one day. Clouds came down and hovered briefly over Taal lake and its volcanoes. In the wink of an eye they were gone, pushed away to let the sun appear with a vengeance. Before you could retrieve your parasol from the car, the showers coming down told you what you needed was a real umbrella.
The malls were full – parking was a matter of chance — but the crowds were not as unmanageable as we had feared. Each highly ornamented Christmas tree on the scene was taller, brighter, more colorful than the last. And still I could not see a velvety sky covered in stars, though Ms. Balikbayan counted two in position near the waning moon (the full moon on Thursday the 12th being the last for the year).
Where have all the stars gone? Light pollution, explains meteorologist Nathaniel Cruz, i.e., the artificial light coming from streets, buildings, whole towns and cities have washed out the twinkling glitter of stars up above. How, then, to explain to today’s kids the magic of wishing upon a star?###