I find the recent acceptance of presidential spokesman Atty. Salvador Panelo of the “commute” challenge hurled by militant netizens and other mass-based sectoral personalities affected by the EDSA vehicular traffic problem as both “amusingly crazy” and “educational.”
“Crazy” because there was no need for the good secretary to accept the dare as it was childish as well as comical. Everybody – including the Malacanang reporters who enthusiastically covered his (mis) adventure from one jeepney ride to another and finally on a habal-habal motorbike (angkas in Tagalog) – just wanted to find out if the seventy plus year-old official could withstand the frantic commuter rush in the morning and really come on time to his office as he had advised everyone to wake up much earlier and take the early ride to their offices.
It was “educational” because it turned out positively in favor of Panelo as he was able to prove that there was indeed no “transportation crisis” but only a “traffic crisis.”
The mainstream media – arguably anti-Establishment – are conjuring up negative images of the incumbent Duterte administration for reasons that will unfold when the political fever heats up in the next several months.
As a resident of Manila since the late fifties, I can say that the blame should be directly laid down on the doorsteps of those who held the reins of power in Malacanang.
(Unfortunately, not to excuse the incumbent Malacanang tenant, he inherited the cumulative failings of all the previous regimes which he is now trying his best to rectify.)
Except for the late president Ferdinand Marcos whom I called a “visionary leader,” none of those who succeeded the former dictator pushed through an efficient national urban planning and renewal program that was already the norm in many western countries several decades before.
The looming population explosion in the seventies was already an alarming indication but authorities after the Marcos years were all besieged by political and socio-economic disorders that they ultimately overlooked urban planning as an integral part of national development.
The dispersal of industries and manufacturing businesses to the regions were initially conceived during the early martial law years which was aimed to decongest Metro Manila and lure Manila migrants to go back to their provinces of origin. This concept has since been aborted, forgotten and probably buried in the crypt of oblivion.
The idea of constructing airports outside of Metro Manila is a sound one considering that the influx of visitors – foreign and domestic – contribute to the Metro Manila traffic problem.
Thus, this is envisioned to minimize, if not automatically unburden the MM commuter and pedestrian traffic as the huge aviation passenger traffic from the central and north Luzon areas usually overloads the airport terminals in the metropolis.
However, as Sec. Panelo was able to prove his point in the “commute challenge,” that the crisis in MM was only being caused by the huge volume of vehicular traffic and not by a “transport crisis” as Duterte critics want to impress, I can only glumly say that many are still missing the point.
Wisdom is indeed not common.
I quote Confucius: “By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is the easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.”
Sometimes, I am tempted to reprint what others have wisely and collectively observed: that we are a rich nation pretending to be poor.
Materially rich but poor in between the ears?
Thank you, Confucius for the enlightening quote. (Email your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.) GOD BLESS THE PHILIPPINES!