Damn the typhoon
By Atty. Antonio P. Pekas
As of now I am very sick. Pain all over my body.
It all started last weekend when we noticed a gaping hole—2ft. x 8ft.— on the side of our roof that leads to the ceiling. I had to patch it up last Sunday before typhoon Rosita arrived. The hole is high up on the roof, around 20 feet from the gound and to fix it I had to be on that roof which was slanting at about 45 degrees. The danger of falling from there was very real. One of our carpenters before fell from it. It was good he did not sustain any serious injury because he landed on his feet. Though he had to go on leave for about two weeks.
The remedy for me not to fall from that roof was to tie myself like a mountaineer scaling up a vertical cliff. I had a rope but where would I tie it. I had to weld a steel bar with one end formed like an O on one of the steel angle bars in the ceiling which was a bit cramped. I had to bring up the welding machine up there. It was heavy so it was troublesome with only the wife and our kid in the house. But bring up the welding machine we had to. And so it was done after a lot of effort and improvisation.
Then the welding troubles. The best spot to weld the thing was so cramped but why should I put it anywhere else? So after a lot of twitching my head and my neck to see where the welding rod was hitting, the high voltage welding rod started sparking. There was no way to shield my eyes with a smoky glass so I closed them or squinted whenever the rod sparked. For a few minutes which was like eternity I endured the heat and the smoke and the laser like sparks that could have hurt my eyes. After the smoke cleared, I inspected what I welded and I was satisfied I could entrust my life to it.
But what material to patch the hole with? I found small GI sheets at the back of an old junked pickup truck on the yard which I riveted together to come up with the required size. There were cuts to be made on the GI sheet but decided to take care of it when I would be up there on the roof.
While the sky was a bit cloudy it was still very hot on the roof. I manually removed the screws, ordinary ones and text screws. There were about 22 of them. They were long so taking out one in its almost rusted condition, and I was on a stilted position on a slanting roof, took forever. It was not easy. With the heat and all, one of my legs almost cramped.
If there was only a way to postpone the job, I would have readily done it. But the typhoon was coming after a day and I had a court deadline the next day. So it had to be done that day. No matter the suffering. And there was nobody to do it but me.
By the way, our house is all steel, GI sheets and concrete. It used to be mostly wood (better during cold days) but for years the termites feasted on every nook and cranny of the house. They were so mean that even those “painted” with used oil were not spared. It must have been smorgasbord every minute, for years.
And why the big hole on the side of the roof? We placed a hardiflex or fiber board but somehow it was blown away by typhoon Ompong.
After a lot of effort, I was able to remove the old screws. Now the problem of screwing them back. For the text screws, it would have been easy if I could locate the socket like steel that is attached to a drill and which will hold the screw as you drill it into the GI sheet and into the steel underneath it. But I could not find that damn thing. So I did it manually. For each screw, I drilled a hole and then manually screwed the text screws. God! I did a lot of screwing that day. Then the bad thing happened, the bit of the drill got broken. I found a spare but after two holes, it also got broken. So what to do? It was already late afternoon and the typhoon would be coming after a day. And I was tired.
I had to force myself to find a way to finish the job. The muscles around my armpits and shoulders were already in pain. Yet the job had to be finished at that time.
So I patiently removed the rope I tied myself with that anchored me to the steel bar I earlier welded. I got down the roof with a lot of prayers that I would find the damn socket-like steel that will hold the text screw as I drill them into the GI sheet and into the steel underneath.
After a few minutes, EUREKA! I found it. Energized by this event, I readily went up the roof and finished the job.
So for the men out there who cannot work on a roof and whose wives have to go and look for carpenters to do the job, here is what you should learn from me. A little determination is all it takes.
Before I started writing this piece Apo Padi David Tabooy was texting that the unthinkable happened. There was a blackout where he was. The implication was that he might not be able to send his column so he intended to hide from the elder members of the congregation who would “scold” him whenever they don’t see his column in any issue of this paper.
After a few minutes he again texted, “Alleluia! Power is back.”
Then I texted back, “What I learned in kindergarten is that prayers get answered.”**