Wave of The Future

Date posted on September 24, 2008

Like always, I did my morning rituals while watching the show Breakfast. One eye on the telly and the other on the mirror. I miss Umagang Kay Ganda and Alas-Singko Y Media but I don’t have TFC, so I have to settle with BBC One. I caught this feature on the world’s first ever wave farm. The Pelamis wave machine, a gigantic, segmented phallic structure that floats off the coast of a town called Agucadora in Portugal, was launched just recently. Its aim is to harness power from the Atlantic’s powerful waves. I thought that with the rising oil prices and the Philippines’ huge dependency on crude oil, and considering our long coastline (longer than the States!), this is a viable alternative power source our national government could pursue (if it hasn’t).

I remembered this instance a few years back when the Philippine Daily Inquirer featured two photos on top of each other on its front page. I was immediately drawn to the first one on the top half of the newspaper because it was unmistakably familiar. When I read the caption, it confirmed that it was a picture of the Caliraya Lake in Cavinti, Laguna, my dad’s birthplace. On the photo, you could see a man walking in the shallow part of the lake, which was smack in the middle of the lake bed because the water levels were extraordinarily low that time of the year.

When I scanned further, I noticed that the second photo below featured the power plant in Tiwi, Albay. I found it amusing because Tiwi is where my barkada/thesis partner Joni Mosatalla hails from naman. Kaya nga pala mura ang kuryente sa kanila. Rates were subsidized because the plant was within Tiwi’s territory.

That PDI issue featured both our home towns on the front page because both were sites of alternative power sources. The hot springs of Tiwi generate geothermal power, while the man-made Caliraya lake provides hydroelectric power.

In all my years of friendship with Joni, preluded by all 4-years of college in UP (including an intense adventure making our thesis on our senior year), it was the first time that this curious coincidence of our towns being cradles of alternative power generation was brought to my attention. You’d think it would’ve come up at least once. Joni and I always joke about how there seems to be nothing left to talk about when we’re with each other, and yet there we found this one, perhaps insignificant, detail that we’ve managed to overlook.

It’s nice to be proven wrong. Comforting to be surprised by incidents like that, when you realize that with great, genuine friends, you’ll never run of out of things to talk about. True, some of them are most likely to be not new, but I never find myself bored. In fact, I often find myself listening to stories that Joni’s told me previously (and not just once, on most occasions!) I’d listen intently and wait for her to finish before letting an impish grin escape and breaking to her that I already know all about it. It has actually become a running joke that whenever she starts telling me something, Joni would always introduce a story with, “Sabihin mo kung nakwento ko na to sa yo ha?”

Once, during an an impromptu getaway to Puerto Galera with Mark and Forsyth, after realizing there’s no new story to share, Joni and I even took to asking each other unlikely, thought-up questions. Tipong, “If you could only among the people you had flings and almost-romances, excluding actual exes, who would you want to ultimately end up with?” Cheesy, I know, but until now, that evening by the beach remains to be one of our funnest, most memorable conversations. And it was about a barrage of nonsense that we found sense in.

Come to think of it, even presence alone suffices. I’m glad there’s a select circle of people like Joni with whom I’m able to bear silences. It’s a luxury I take for granted but am eternally thankful for. These friends generously sate my desire for conversations as much as my need for comfortable, pressure-free tranquility. Either way, in the pleasure of their company. This I think is why I’m friends with my friends, why I see myself being friends with them long into the future.

***

I think the Portuguese may be on to something with their pioneering venture. Alternative is the way to go. The Bangui Wind Farm that supplies power to the Luzon grid is enough proof of this. There’s potential in ethanol, but as Time Magazine’s feature has revealed, the environmental cost of cultivating corn and sugar cane farms for this could just be as damaging as burning oil.

Perhaps wave power is really the wave of the future.