The Monstrous Problem of Manila’s Metro Rail Transit (MRT)
By Apolinario Villalobos
The seemingly regular occurrence of crack, though, hairline in some portions of the MRT should have given a clear signal to the management that there is something wrong with the quality of the steel rails. Several years ago, China was prominently put in the limelight when inferior steel bars from the mainland that were supposed to be delivered to the provinces were intercepted. The locals dubbed them as fake steel which was not true, although, just of low-grade quality – inferior. Accordingly, they were sent back, but many are alleging that some are still stashed away in warehouses and being sold liberally. Steel is graded according to its quality that would suit its purpose, as well as, ability to withstand stress, and the grade must be compatible with the kind of welding rod to be used.
There is a question now, as to whether quality control has been observed in checking the delivered steel bars of MRT or not, knowing how the tolerant culture of Filipinos is oftentimes observed in many projects, that has got to do with the “ pwede na” or “sige na lang” attitude. In fact, when the new trains have been delivered, another problem came out, that of compatibility with the towing capability of the engine. The questionable quality of the steel rails has compounded the poorly-maintained elevators, escalators, and toilet facilities…making the MRT one of the monster problems of the Aquino administrations due to lackadaisical attitude of his supposedly trusted people.
Many are wondering why the Light Rail Transit which was built during the Marcos administration seldom encounters frequent problem on the cracked rails. Has it got to do with corruption? There is a general impression today, that corruption during the time of Marcos was stringently “controlled”, unlike the presence of such repugnant practice in practically, all levels of transaction today.
Ang Credit Card Bilang Status Symbol ng Ilang Pilipino
Ni Apolinario Villalobos
Ang paggamit ng credit card na kung tawagin ng iba ay “plastic money” ay dapat inaangkop o binabagay ng isang tao na gustong gumamit nito sa kanyang pinansiyal na kalagayan sa buhay. Unang-una, ang interest na pinapataw tuwing ito ay gamitin ay talagang matindi lalo pa kung naiipon ng kung ilang buwan. Sa biglang tingin, maliit ang binabayaran kapag gumamit nito sa pamimili dahil maaaring hatiin sa kung ilang hulugan ang pagbayad. Subalit ang hindi napapansin ay ang pagpatung-patong ng mga natirang babayaran pa na may kaakibat na compounding interest, at hindi napapansin ng gumagamit. Magtataka na lamang ang gumagamit nito kapag napansin niyang lalong lumala ang problema niya sa pera at may nakaamba pang demanda dahil sa hindi pagbayad sa lomobong utang sa credit card company.
Tanggap ang katotohanang nagpapalakas ng loob ang credit sa mga taong bumili ng kahit hindi nila kailangan, lalo pa at nasa loob na sila ng mall. Ang isa pa, nakakahiyang bumili gamit ang credit card, sa maliit na halaga, kaya kailangan ay lakihan na upang hindi pandilatan ng dispatsadora kung ang binili ay halagang wala pang Php100.00.
Ang credit card ay sumisira sa kasabihan ng mga Pilipino tungkol sa “pamamaluktot kung maigsi ang kumot”. Ang kasabihang yan ay angkop lamang sa mga may hawak na cash, kaya kung ano lang ang kaya ng pera nila ay hanggang doon na lang sila. Kung ang kaya ng cash halimbawa na dapat bibillhing pagkain ay halagang Php500 lang, hanggang doon na lang talaga. Pero, iba kapag ang hawak ay credit card dahil karaniwang maximum limit of purchase nito ay hindi bababa sa Php20,000. Yong may kakayanan namang magbayad ng malaki batay sa suweldo nila at kinalalagyan sa lipunan, ay unlimited.
Ang mga Pilipino na ang asawa ay nasa abroad o di kaya ay seafarer at malalaki pa ang suweldo ay may karapatan sa paggamit ng credit card dahil may inaasahan silang regular na malalaking remittance. Ang hirap lang sa ibang Pilipino kasi, kahit ang suweldo ay lampas lang ng kaunti sa Php10,000 ay nagkakalakas na ng loob sa pagkuha nito….at, hindi lang isa, kundi dalawa pa, lalo pa at pwedeng gamitin ang card sa pag-withdraw ng cash sa ATM. Ang ginagawa kasi nila ay ang style sa pagbayad na “pasa-pasa”. Ibig sabihin, magwi-withdraw sila ng cash gamit ang isang card upang pambayad sa bill ng isa, at ganoon din ang gagawin sa isa, upang may pambayad sa isa pang card. Nasabi ko ito dahil marami na akong taong nakausap na ganito ang ginagawa. Kapag umabot na sa puntong hindi na talaga kayang magbayad ay magre-resign sa trabaho, magpapagawa ng ibang ID sa Recto gamit ang ibang pangalan, at magtatago….at pagkalipas ng ilang buwan o taon ay saka lilitaw at hahanap ng trabahong hindi nagri-require ng masinsinang background check, kaya nagagamit nila ang pekeng ID.
Kaya hindi nati-trace ang ibang abusadong credit card holders ay dahil nangungupahan lang sila sa mga squatter’s area. Yong iba naman ay nagbo-board and lodging o di kaya ay bedspacer sa mga liblib na address. Kawawa ang mga guarantor nila na sumasalo sa mga bayarin. Yong ibang guarantor naman kasi ay nasisilaw sa kikitaing “referral commission”, kaya dahil sa katakawan sa kakarampot na kita ay lumaki pa ang problema nila, at may banta pang demanda.
Ang isang nakakatawang ugali ng ibang Pilipino ay ang pag-ipon nila ng mga expired na credit card at dinidispley sa kanilang pitaka, lalo na yong mahaba na may maraming slots para sa mga ito. Pagbukas nga naman nila ng pitaka sa harap ng mga kaibigan ay kita agad ang mga plastic cards. Yong hindi nakakaalam sa tunay na pagkatao ng nagyayabang lalo pa kung maporma ay talagang maniniwala, kahit sa tunay na buhay ang mayabang ay maliit ang suweldo at halos walang pamasahe na magamit sa pagpasok. Alam ko yan, dahil sa trabaho ko noon, marami silang naging kasama ko – mga clerk at yong isa ay messenger/janitor….may mga credit card pero pinagpapalit-palit ang Lunes, Miyerkules at Biyernes na pinapalyahan o hindi pinapasukan dahil walang pamasahe! At, yong mga umutang sa akin na nagkaroon ng amnesia dahil nauntog yata, ay pinasa-Diyos ko na lang…
Regular visitors of Isetan Mall along Recto refer to Rowena Soliano as the “girl in black”, although friends call her “Weng”. She hails from Sarangani Province in southern Mindanao. She’s got an exotic face and always chick in her tight-fitting black outfit, that make her stand out in a crowd of shoppers in the mall while delivering ordered snacks to patronizing employees. She also loves to braid her hair in various ways every day that adds to her being a stunning looker. She has been working with a coffee shop located on the fourth floor of the mall where the videoke area is located.
In 2013, she fell in love with a persistent suitor whom she thought was serious in his intention. Unfortunately, their relationship got sour and realizing that something was seriously wrong with their relationship, she broke up with him despite her being pregnant during the time. She went on with her job at the mall, but went home when she was about to deliver her baby. After a year in Sarangani, she went back to Manila and implored her employer to take her back. She left her baby girl, now almost two years old in the care of her mother, to whom she regularly sends money.
Her job at the coffee shop starts at 10AM when the mall opens until its closure at 9PM. She seldom finds time to sit down, as just when she arrives at their stall after a delivery, another set or more of ordered snacks are waiting to be delivered again. Despite her hectic schedule, her smile never leaves her face. The only break she gets is when she had to take a late lunch – standing. Another short respite is for a stolen moment for light and late dinner, still taken standing.
She is fortunate to have found a kind employer, a reason enough for her to love her job. It was her first job when she arrived in Manila from Sarangani Province. When I had a lengthy talk with her, I told her about the international resort that Manny Pacquiao is putting up in Sarangani. She told me that she was also told about it by her mother. However, she has apprehensions if she could be given the chance to land a job in such big resort due to her insufficient educational attainment. She told me that she barely finished her high school. She is also aware that there are plenty of four-year course graduates in their province and in the field of tourism, yet.
Weng is the opitome of the struggling youth from the province who try their luck in the bustling city of Manila, some of whom are unfortunate to have ended as prostitutes that ply their trade along Avenida. Some became exotic dancers in discreet beerhouses in Recto, Caloocan, and Cubao. Like their elder contemporaries who brought with them their families and ended living on sidewalks while surviving on recyclable junks collected from garbage dumps, the youth from the provinces of Mindanao are left with no choice but take the risk of uncertainties in Manila, rather than be recruited by the New People’s Army (NPA) and Abu Sayyaf.
Sarangani, the province of Weng, is already infiltrated with NPA and drug dealers. The tentacles of Abu Sayyaf which is notoriously known for its kidnap-for-ransom activities have also been wriggling around the area for a long time, too. Worst, job opportunities in Sarangani is like the proverbial needle in a haystack. These are available at General Santos City, the nearest urban area, but for hopefuls like Weng, no opportunity is left, considering the thousands of graduates from several colleges and universities around the southern Mindanao area every year.
How can we then blame provincials like Weng for coming to Manila and add up to the already teeming population of the city? Yet, those who have not experienced distressing life in the province just cannot restrain themselves from uttering hurting invectives. And, practically adding salt to the wound, are the incessant and oft-repeated arrogant declarations of the president about jobs and progress that the country and the Filipinos are enjoying!…and, under his administration, yet!…but the big question is, where are they?