We revisit an editorial
we wrote in 2004. Since its writing, traffic in the metropolis has not
improved and in many ways seems to have gotten much worse.
and balikbayans in Metro Manila are confronted with the dilemma of whether
to get behind the wheel and drive themselves around the metropolis or get
someone else to do it for them. For those
visiting from countries such as the US and Canada, driving in Manila can be
quite an unnerving experience. It quickly becomes apparent that motoring in
Manila operates on a significantly different paradigm.
Two elements combine to make driving a
decidedly tourist-unfriendly experience: first is the Filipino driver. Make
no mistake, Filipinos have excellent driving skills. They maneuver their
vehicles to within inches of one another without hesitation. Filipino
Driving habits are another thing altogether. They break almost every driving
rule in the book: they make sudden left turns from the far right lane; they
straddle lanes; they cut into freeway traffic; they stop wherever they feel
like; they jump red lights; they drive with their headlights off at night;
and they use their horns incessantly.
The second element are the roads in the
Metropolis. There is an appalling lack of roadway signage. Many street signs
are missing. Over the past decades numerous fly-overs and skyways were
built, but signage on them are for the most part dismal. Some highway
turnoffs have their their signs posted only on the turnoff themselves,
leaving the uninitiated driver little time to prepare for it. A far cry from
the driver-friendly freeways of the West. There is also a lack of
consistency in signage making some signs hard to read when cruising at
highway speeds. Add to this the lack of lane delineations on many roads and
highways. Even more egregious are lanes that suddenly disappear without
warning, forcing drivers to suddenly merge to adjacent lanes. The litany of
faults can go on and on.
But rather than simply complain about this
sad state of affairs, here's what we feel should be done:
1. Driving education should be a required
course in high schools all over the country. The reason Filipinos drive
the way they do is because no one taught them otherwise. With traffic
growing significantly worse in and around Metro Manila, proper driving
techniques will go a long way in alleviating some of the congestion and
traffic jams that plague the daily commute.
2. The National
government should step in and correct the many shortcomings found in the
country's roadways. It can start by demanding consistency in signage;
making sure highways have clearly delineated lanes; and making sure
warning signs or roadway markings are present to alert drivers of potential hazards ahead.
Making Philippine roads driver-friendly
will go a long way in making them Tourist and Balikbayan-friendly. If the
only way visitors can get around is to have someone drive for them, their
mobility becomes somewhat diminished. And let us not forget that their
overall experience in the country inevitably includes traveling from one place to another.
We'll have more to say
on this issue in the near future, so "stay tuned."
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For those who have been following the Janet Lim-Napoles PDAF/NGO* scandal these past months, it is easy to get caught up in all the rhetoric—the words and phrases repeated day after day. Words like "ten billion" or "fifteen billion" have turned into something akin to "gray" background noise. Words devoid of any real meaning or significance. So let us try to put back some meaning into those trite and often-repeated phrases in order to better understand some of the far-reaching ramifications of Napoles' actions.
With Senator Bong Revilla already in police custody in Camp Crame and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile set to join him any day now, people need to start asking tough questions going forward. The privilege speeches of the senators along with the histrionics that accompanied them are thankfully now over so we can all address this issue more objectively.
The Self-Perpetuating Elite of the Philippines
In an essay published in the July 1968 issue of the American magazine Foreign Affairs, a novice Philippine senator described his country as “a land in which a few are spectacularly rich while the masses remain abjectly poor. . . . a land consecrated to democracy but run by an entrenched plutocracy… a people whose ambitions run high, but whose fulfillment is low and mainly restricted to the self-perpetuating elite…a land of privilege and rank – a republic dedicated to equality but mired in an archaic system of caste.”
PHL Legislators Implicated in the Napoles PDAF Scam Face Definite Jail Time...Maybe
In the United States former four-star General and until recently Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki was forced to resign as head of the VA by the ongoing healthcare scandal that has enveloped that agency. While one can safely assume that Shinseki was not involved in the actually transgressions being investigated, the fact that he headed the agency meant he had command responsibility over its entire staff. And their wrongful acts, whether he knew about them or not, cost him his job. That is the way things work in properly functioning democracies. In the Philippines however, things tend to get a little unusual.
Why All the Fuss? We Knew They were Corrupt Anyway!
So finally the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. But we Pinoys should not be surprised at all. We all know how corrupt our country is. Even before former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was accused of electoral sabotage and the misuse of public funds in 2011; even before Joseph “Erap” Estrada—an earlier president was convicted of plunder by the Sandiganbayan in 2007; even before Ferdinand Marcos, a president-turned-dictator, was booted out of the country along with his family and cronies twenty-eight years ago; we Pinoys knew they were corrupt.
The Case of Denise Cornejo and Cedric Lee, a Litmus Test for Pnoy and Philippine Justice
Now that the star attraction in the alleged Vhong Navarro rape incident is in police custody, the upcoming trial will be a litmus test for the Aquino administration as well as the Courts. The almost universal perception is that Philippine justice is broken and does not work. Laws are applied inequitably with the wealthy and powerful living almost above the law, while the common "tao" finds himself at the losing end of cases that usually drag on for years.
Obama's Visit a Shot in the Arm for a Struggling Ally
After essentially showing the American Military the door in the early '90s, Filipinos have of late come to the realization that they need their "Uncle Sam" more than they thought they did. And back then the United States was also more than happy to oblige as their Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission had been closing down hundreds of military installations all across the USA.
We Treasure Our Sierra Madre
In the1948 John Houston movie, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, three destitute Americans working as gold prospectors mining the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico are confronted by bandits posing as mounted police (“Federales”). When they are asked to produce their badges, the chief bandit's response is classic: “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!”