It was a fun weekend. I finished seven bottles of beers. But I didn’t even feel tipsy.
Campers started arriving early Saturday at Manuel Uy Beach in Calatagan, Batangas. The camp started to beam its night life early evening.
I am having a dinner, enjoying the breeze of the beach under the glittering skies dotted with stars. Suddenly, a strong wind blew that it literally “uproot” my Talus 4 North Face tent.
I called a friend to check the weather. There was a low pressure coming in. The strong wind went on for more than 30 minutes. The rain started to fall. I decided to break camp and go home. It was already 11 pm.
Going back to Manila, I took the Calatagan-Lipa-STAR-SLEX than the Calatagan-Tagaytay-Sta. Rosa-SLEX. By then, its was raining hard. Branches of trees scattered along the road. It was obvious that the strong wind has barreled the area.
Traffic was good when I started my journey. Routes offered by Google Maps was all blue. Reaching Cuenca town, I turned my light low at a sight of an approaching vehicle. When we are about to pass through to each other, a vehicle to my right suddenly entered the highway.
The two vehicle nearly sandwich me. I am glad that the driver of the approaching vehicle adjusted his space onto the shoulder of the road. I was on the middle, fitting our three vehicles on a supposed two-lane highway.
“What an irresponsible driver!” I said.
Before I entered STAR expressway, the rain was already pouring hard. Visual was a challenge. I was following a vehicle observing the 3-second distance rule.
My sensor reads “4.5 seconds vehicle ahead”. I knew I am keeping a safe distance. I noticed the driver is slowing down with his brake lights turning red.
Cruising at 90kph, I mildly step on my brake. But the road was slippery as the downpour continues. My Peugeot skidded off from one lane to another. I noticed that my vehicle was turning sideway. This is it. This is the face of death so I released the brake.
It then positioned itself to its lane again. The good thing – there were no other vehicle moving by either of my sides. Else, it would have been a multiple collision.
Catching a deep, deep breath. I said to myself “Oh my God!”
I continue my travel along STAR Tollway. This time sleep was taking its toll. When I entered Sto. Tomas’ SLEX, a vehicle behind me was blowing its horn.
This time I was moving slowly – slightly above the regulation. After four or five long blew of horn, I noticed that I am between the overtaking and the car lanes, cruising at the middle of the broken road lines that divided the two lanes.
I admit. I have a driving challenge at night. I could hardly see the road lines that divided the lanes. But coupled it with “sleepiness”, it was a perfect recipe for disaster.
My eyes were heavy this time, I just prayed “Lord, help me make it to the next refilling station” again and again. I said it loud to keep me awake. I repeatedly patted my nape to fight the lullaby.
But it seemed like forever.
The agony and torture of fighting sleep on an expressway are beyond pain. It was the thought of whether you will be alive a little longer or suffer a painful death. I don’t want to be a roadkill.
Three years ago, sleep caught me on the road. I bumped into a passenger jeep in front of me. I escaped death. But my Chevrolet Cruze needed a total facelift.
“Lord, just the next gas station,” I kept saying it.
I talked to myself, “JP, make it to the next station, you fool!”
The recollections came to play that I was so tired on the day — I played wakeboarding for four hours. I finished seven bottles of beers early at night. I haven’t got a nap after spending hours on the beach under the simmering sun.
But I don’t want to entertain these thought. They might put me to sleep. I turn off the aircon to keep me awake. I am now traversing at the slow lane at 40 to 50kph under the heavy rain, fighting visual challenge and drowsiness.
Then the sign of hope suddenly appears, Petron’s sign P, with 2 km under it.
As I approaches the refueling exit, I thanked God for protecting me from the faces and perils of death.
As I entered the gas station, I find a corner to park my vehicle. I kept the engine running and turned on the aircon. It was already 1am.
I adjusted the driver’s seat to its full reclining position. I have a full view of the stars with my moon roof open.
But I noticed something was wrong – the stars are “moving”. My vehicle is moving! Backward! I forgot to engage my parked brake.
Oh what a night it was.
Later, a security guard was knocking on my driver’s seat window.
“Good morning, sir. Umaga na po, sir.”
I looked on my watch, its already 8am.
This is not yet my official blog for this trip to Calatagan. This is just my way of saying that I faced four deaths last night. But I am still here, alive and kicking, and to his face, I said, “Not today. Not today.”