What I did during Typhoon Quinta in the Philippines

Typhoon quinta as seen from our apartment window in Malay, Philippines.

Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Ellen

‘Tis the season. Typhoon season. We’ve braved the butt-end of another major tropical storm and lived to tell the tale. During a pandemic. In the Philippines. (I can’t believe I just wrote that.)

My surreal experience with this time of coronavirus continues. This chapter was a bit different, however.

First, we are fine. Thanks everyone, for the messages and well wishes.

Typhoon Quinta hit islands north of us as a ‘signal 3’ storm. That is similar in wind speed to a ‘category 3‘ hurricane. As you might imagine, it caused some destruction: evacuations, flooding, blown over trees, landslides.

Our landlady and friend Yolly told us her mother’s roof blew off her home. Yolly’s mom lives on the island of Luzon, directly hit by Typhoon Quinta. This news is especially heartbreaking since Yolly’s father died a couple of months ago.

Thankfully, her mom is safe and has a place to stay.

What I did during Typhoon Quinta

Here on Panay Island, there was flooding and landslides, but damage was comparatively minimal compared to Luzon.

Torrential rains hit our apartment, and Tedly reports he did storm water management periodically throughout the day on the decks. I wasn’t around to help because I took a quick trip to the south.

View from the Earth Vagabonds balcony during Typhoon Quinta; Boracay Island is covered with clouds.

That’s right – during a pandemic, during the outskirts of an active typhoon, I took public transportation south to Kalibo.

I kept watching the radar, and I left ‘home’ in Malay when I knew the eye of the storm had passed to the north of us. Still, the outer bands did cause some local flooding and power outages in Caticlan, pictured below.

A generator gives power to the Mercury Drug store in Caticlan, Philippines, during Typhoon Quinta.

Note to travelers who buy prescription drugs overseas: larger drug store chains typically use generators during power outages and that is one reason why I shop at the chains. Drug degradation is less likely in continuously controlled climates.

Kalibol isn’t that far away – roughly 45 miles. But as soon as I got south of Ibajay – the half-way point- the storm was much less intense.

Why the hell did I need to go the provincial capital in a storm? Well, to visit a friend.

We try to get together once a week to talk about spiritual stuff, life in the Philippines, and whatever else we want to get out. But I hadn’t seen him in one month.

We were overdue for our weekly chat. With Mom Diane safely back home, the virus risk was no longer large enough to deter a visit. My husband’s mom lived with us in the Philippines for more than 10 months; there are a few active COVID cases in Kalibo.

Also, I didn’t feel the local typhoon risk was enough to prevent the quick trip.

As luck would have it, down in Kalibo, it stopped raining just as I arrived. Heavy rains and wind continued back ‘home’, but in Kalibo I was safe and dry.

Pinnacle of surreality

As if all of this isn’t surreal enough – get this. My friend’s outdoor garden, which is where we always sit and talk, features an artistic plant holder with three sets of female breasts.

Our long-time readers will recall: I had a double mastectomy without reconstruction in 2018. I am a ‘flattie‘.

(The below photo was taken a month ago, on a typical sunny day.)

So, I’m in the Philippines during a pandemic, my mother in law just left for home after living with us for 10 months, I’m out and about during the outer bands of a serious typhoon, and I’m sitting in a garden with breasts on display while I have none.

The day felt like a pinnacle of surreality so far in this whole ‘pandemic’ experience.

By the time I arrived back in Caticlan, and then took a trike back to Motag, it was just like a regular heavy rainstorm.

Tedly kept a watchful eye on the place all day, and reported no serious damage. We updated each other on our days, we made dinner, and it was — well, it was totally normal. Just us. Out here in the world. Doing our thing.

Thanks for reading, “What I did during Typhoon Quinta in the Philippines.”

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