Mr. Murphy Follows Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) to Samar

Typhoon Hagupit Aims at Calbayog CIty
Typhoon Hagupit Takes Direct Aim at Calbayog CIty

Yesterday I posted a short-short on facebook about how we woke up to such a beautiful day and how that day soured and then ended happily. Well I sensationalized it, if for no other reason, to make me feel good about the outcome in the end. So, as I promised, here is the story in its entirety, or as Paul Harvey would say “The rest of the story.”

Today, which is the day following the day after Typhoon Ruby’s visit, we woke up to bright sunny skies and knew it was going to be a wonderful day. The Mrs. was wanting to wash some clothes so I thought after breakfast I would fire up the generator. When you are without power, efficient generator management is important – such as in keeping the refrigerator charged. So usually about 8am, the generator gets turned on and we will run for one hour until about 11am when we again fire it up and run for two more hours. The early morning run was an opportune time for the Mrs. to get a load of laundry done in the machine. So, right at 8am, I fire up the 5500 kw Diesel genset and all is well. The washing machine is churning, the ref is charging, the fan is blowing and life is as good as it can get after a typhoon. Less than one hour into operation, the generator crashes…just quits…and the washing machine also ends before the cycle is complete. My Mrs. immediately looks at me with that look that it is all my fault that the generator quit before the wash was completed!  Oh well.

If It's Up to Murphy?
If It’s Up to Murphy?

Now, after what we just went through with Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby), and if one closely observes her track across Samar, one can be pretty certain that Ms. Ruby and Mr. Murphy (who has his own laws) are somehow acquainted and have conspired to wreak havoc on us here in Calbayog City. This storm, after travelling hundreds of miles across the Western Pacific along a fairly straight path, actually did a fricking left turn and came directly at us…after it was all but certain that this storm would just clip the northern shores of Samar.

Anyway, after a quick visual inspection of the genset, I decided to pull the valve cover off to see if I could find anything. And there it was (or wasn’t)! One of the two push rods was missing. Seems like we “dropped a rod” as they say. So I proceeded to disassemble the motor, pulled the head and retrieved the rod which had sheared off at the bottom, unseating the rod. I cleaned myself up, jumped on the motorcycle and headed to town. Once at the repair shop, it didn’t take long for the mechanic to dig out an exact match from an overly large pile of parts (looked like a pile of junk to me). He found it rather quickly so I’m assuming his organization and cataloging methods are in good working order. I handed over P300 ($6.69) to the man and I was off and headed back to the house. About a kilometer from home, I came up over a hill on the jungle road that leads to our village and suddenly my back tire completely locks up. The chain somehow disengaged from the rear socket and wrapped itself around the rear hub, locking my tire and bringing me to a skidding halt. While I was assessing the situation, a group of boys (with basketball in hand) came walking up the hill and one of them yelled down the hill that we needed a mechanic. Within two minutes, some guy just appears out of the jungle, kneels down and looks at my wheel and then takes off only to return on his scooter with a pocket-purse sized tool bag. I thought to myself, maybe a dentist could get his tools in that bag, but a mechanic? Nonetheless, he did not have what we needed to fix the wheel. When I mentioned that I have all the tools I need at sa bahay (the house), he quickly handed me the keys to his scooter and says “you go!” Wow. So I jump on his little automatic scooter, went to the house and retrieved two large crescent wrenches and a large screwdriver. When I returned, he looked at my tools with amazement…as if he had never seen quality tools before. After about 10 minutes, he had the chain un-lodged and the tire secured and I was ready to go. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a P100 note and handed it to him. He backed away like I had the plague and said “no, no, no…next time.” I think he maybe felt honored to have the privilege of helping a foreigner and using the best quality “American made” tools he has ever held in his hands. Anyway, I was back home in a couple of minutes and back to work on the generator. Remember the generator?

Generators make life easier...sometimes.
Generators make life easier…sometimes.

After about an hour, I had installed and re-seated the new rod, made all the adjustments and reassembled the engine. One crank on the cord and she fired up and ran sporadically until the fuel stream steadied out. We were back in business. I went into the house to take shower and was just sitting down to eat lunch when…Crash, bang, boom….it quits running again. (It didn’t actually make all them noises but for the sake of this making this story sound good….you know.) So frustrated, I finished my lunch and the Mrs. asked me what was wrong? Like I knew? I told her I was going to take my nap (nothing gets in the way of my naps most days) and I would look at it after I woke up.

By now it was 3pm and if I was going to get this thing working for the evening three-hour session, I had to get busy. I proceeded to tear down the engine again, this time to find the same rod had dropped, but now it was because the rod adjustment screw which holds the rod tightly in the rocker arm socket was sheared off. Now I had to go back to town, but this time I was not taking the bike, as it had a slightly bent chain (which will need replacing). I was hot and was going to take the car so I could experience a little “air conditioning” comfort during the ride into town and back. Again, I get cleaned up, grab up the broken adjustment screw, jump in the car and IT WON’T START!  Aughhhh!!!! It was cranking okay, but it just wouldn’t fire. This now officially ranks up there with one of those days where I should have went back to bed, just to get out of bed on the other side.

Finally, after about 10 minutes of managed cranking, the car begins to get a sense of fuel and starts to fire. Another couple of minutes and it finally starts. “Whew” I exclaimed as I immediately reached for the air conditioning controls….just hoping and wishing something would work right today. The AC worked great and for the first time all day I felt some relief. So the Mrs. accompanied me to town (she needed some AC relief too) to find the mechanic shop guy. I showed him the part and he dug into his magic pile of parts and comes out with an exact match of my part. This time it was only P100 ($2.23), and we were back in the car and headed back to the village. We made a quick stop at a roadside market for some fresh veggies and fish and after leaving, we happened upon a rather nasty looking motorcycle accident. We couldn’t tell how bad it was because the two riders involved were not present and we really couldn’t discern whether they were okay or not. They must have been carted off to the hospital. From the looks of the motorcycle, one could only imagine a worst case scenario. After getting through that bottleneck, we were home in a matter of minutes. I immediately went back to work on the genset and had it completely back together in short order. At this time most guys would readily try to crank it up, but me, NO!  I had to wait for whatever it was this day causing my difficulties to wear off so I was going to take my sweet time. I confidently put all my tools away and cleaned up the mess. I walked inside for a bottle of water and came back out to the generator shed, topped it off with fuel and just looked at it. After finishing my water, I decided it was time, so I had a pull on the cord and voila!… one pull and she fired right up. She performed flawlessly for the next three hours doing everything it was supposed to do…like cool the house and the beer.

When I looked back on the days events, I can’t begin to imagine why everything went so wrong…all day long. Maybe Mr. Murphy followed the likes of Typhoon Ruby here for a visit? But in the end, everything seemed to work out okay…except for that couple on the motorcycle…I hope their day turned out better than mine. I guess sometimes you must keep things in perspective and just be grateful that you made it through the day in one piece.

Damaged Motorbike
Damaged Motorbike

10 thoughts on “Mr. Murphy Follows Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) to Samar

  1. Glad youre all ok there sir randy despite the wrath of typhoon ruby, i heard samar is the affected part of the typhoon 🙂

  2. Hi Telsa, yes Samar took a direct hit and unfortunately, approximately 21 people lost their lived in Eastern Samar. Although Samarino’s were generally prepared for this storm, there will always be injuries and some fatalities in a disaster of this scale. All it helps us to do is be better prepared for the next one, whenever that may be.

  3. Randy, great story about how one copes with “roughing it” in the wilds of the Philippines, but when “the wilds” come to visit you that is another thing! I was just like you the day after Ruby left, that Typhoon Ruby had missed us completely left me feeling very happy. But your problems would have driven me crazy. I can diagnose and fix minor problems on an engine but when something breaks then time for a mechanic. Congratulations to you and your mechanic friends – you all did well and you did not lose your patience. Have another beer – you deserve it.

  4. Hopefully Mr. Murphy did lost your address for his next visits! Too bad for a one day, maybe next ones more relaxing!? Anyway, most important that beer now is cold again!

  5. Happy to hear you survived Ruby ok. We only got a little rain and very little wind here, but that is probably because we are more inland. Jessa’s (my beautiful little filipina) family did not fare quite so well. They are all safe, but I guess the roof of both houses were at least possibly removed. We haven’t seen pictures yet and don’t know if any “before and after” were taken.
    Jessa hasn’t seen any of her family in more than 1 year and some for 2 years and I have wanted to surprise them by having her be with them at Christmas time. I don’t know how successful we’ll be because I know 1 brother and his wife know we are coming. I just hope her father and sister haven’t yet found out AND I get to give her another “FIRST”, her first flight on a commercial airline.
    She is so excited, she says every time she starts doing something, she loses her concentration and goes back to her “countdown”. I’ll bet that when she gets through the airport and actually sees the plane, she’ll get so excited she pees her pants.
    Anyway, we are arriving in Calbayog City around 06:30 AM and won’t be able to check into our hotel until afternoon so re panning on going to the market so we can pick up some things to make our stay t her family house before we go there and probably stay in the city a few days before we go to the island.
    After we do check in, it would be nice if we could meet you and a few of the other ex-pat couples that live there. Could/would you arrange that? My CP# is 0949 827 1879.
    We’ll hope to her something from you sometime before noon on the 16th.
    Jerry & Jessa Cook

  6. What day are you arriving in Calbayog Jerry? You can contact me at 0927-786-5646 when you arrive. We are planning a beach outing on the 14th with a few expats in the area. Or maybe we can just meet up for lunch somewhere.

  7. Hi, again Randy,

    We will be arriving early on the morning of the 16th and after checking in at hotel (we are torn between 3 for the moment) Joy Palace, Almira, or Eduardo, but they are telling us their rates are higher than advertised because they must now use generators full time. Even Joy Palace which advertises lowest rates in Calbayog City is telling us their rate is set b/y management and won’t negotiate, so probably will end up at Allmira. Jessa’s CP# is 0975 204 9025 so watch for a call from that or the number I gave you earlier (SMART).
    OF COURSE we will not call you that early. Hey, we are retired (or is that just tired Americans that hear Alarm Clocks) and get up at the crack of dawn, so don’t expect to hear anything from us until around noon but will be looking forward to meeting you and your beautiful wife sometime soon after we recover from jet lag (does that happen after a 1 1/2 hour flight or joining the mile high club? LOL). In either event, we will try to call you sometime fter noon on the 16th.
    Hope to see and chat with you soon,
    Jerry & Jessa

  8. Where are you coming from? The flight from Manila is only a 50 minute flight so don’t see jet lag as a problem. lol We stayed at the Almira once a couple years ago on a visit and it was okay. Not sure about anybody using a generator “full time” though. Most hotels only use them during the evenings. Have you checked on the Marju Krisal or I’s Plant? Just give us a call at your convenience and maybe we can meet up for lunch somewhere.

  9. It was nice meeting you Jerry and your lovely wife for lunch. We will have to meet up again before you depart back for the land of Luzon!

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