The Monstrous Problem of Manila’s Metro Rail Transit (MRT)

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 Mga Laglagan sa Pilipinas

Ang Mga Laglagan sa Pilipinas

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Ilang buwan pa lang ang nakararaan, laglag-bala ang mainit na isyu. Ang mahigpit na pag-kontrol sa mga airport upang maiwasan ang pagpuslit ng mga deadly ammunition ay okey na sana subalit nasilipan ng butas ng ilang tiwali sa airport dahil sa paniniwala ng mga Pilipino sa bala bilang agimat. Dahil sa katiwalian na iyan, maraming tanga at may matigas na ulong Pilipino ang nawalan ng trabaho sa ibang bansa dahil napigilan sa pagsakay sa eroplano dahil lamang sa iisang balang nakita sa kanilang bagahe. Maraming tangang Pilipino ang umaming nagdadala talaga ng bala sa abroad upang pananggalang daw nila laban sa pag-aabuso ng employer. May mga natanggal na ring mga inspector ng bagahe dahil kahit obvious na talagang walang laman ang bala dahil ang tinuturing na agimat lang talaga ay ang tansong basyo, pinagpipilitan pa rin na “deadly ammunition” daw ito. Bakit nga naman nila palalampasin ang pagkakataon ganoong, ang “pakiusapan” ay may presyong mula 2 thousand hanggang 8 thousand pesos???!!!

 

Sa pinakapangit na airport pa rin sa buong mundo, ayon sa survey – ang Manila International Airport Terminal 3, laglag-kisame naman ang isyu. May nasugatan, banyagang turista pa, mabuti na lang at hindi nasaktan ang kanyang asawang Pilipina at anak. Nag-apologize ang manager ng airport subalit hindi pa rin ito sapat. Bago nangyari ang paglaglag ng kisame sa coffee shop, ay nagkaroon na rin ng laglagan bago pa man binuksan para sa operasyon ang Terminal 3, at nang nag-ooperate na, nagkalaglagan pa rin ng dalawang beses. Ibig sabihin, ang diperensiya ay ang mahinang “original” na kisame o suporta nito, kaya siguradong ang bagong kisameng ikakabit ay madadamay. “It’s more fun in the Philippines” pa rin kaya ang sasabihin ng pinakahuling nasaktan na turista?

 

Nilaglag ni Aquino si Purisima kung kaylan sobra na ang alingasaw ng amoy ng “teamwork” nila. Nilaglag din ng administrasyon si Vitangcol ang sinasabing palpak at nangurakot sa mga deals at management ng MRT, pero under investigation, as usual, at pinagduduhan pa . Latest kay Vitangcol: humihingi ng tulong sa PAO para bigyan ng libreng abogado! Ang kakapalan nga naman ng mukha kung umiral! Yan ang problema sa mga tauhan ni Pnoy, ginagawang tanga ang mga Pilipino….gusto ba namang magkaroon ng abogadong ang nagpapasuweldo ay taong bayan na sinasabing niloko niya! Walang delikadesa!

 

May mga laglagan na rin sa pulitika bago sumapit ang election 2016. Nilaglag ni Pnoy Aquino si Mar Roxas nang i-veto niya ang batas para sa dagdag na 2 libo sa pension ng mg SSS retirees. Sa mga hindi nakakahalata, binago ni Roxas ang kanyang political ad dahil sinimplehan lang, walang music background, at ang dialogue tungkol sa tuwid na daan ay dinugtungan niya ng “pupunuan ko kung may kakulangan, iwawasto ang mali, at hindi ako nagnakaw….”. Malinaw na patutsada kay Pnoy na mula’t sapul ay walang bilib sa kanya. Nilaglag din daw ni Escudero si Grace Poe subalit deny to death naman siya sa isang interview…pero truthful ba siya?

Baclaran Creek: Ugly Stain on the Philippines’ Tourism Image

Baclaran Creek: Ugly Stain on the Philippines’

Tourism Image

by Apolinario Villalobos

 

Nothing can be one hundred percent clean, sanitized, germ-free, well-kept, etc., to show a pleasant image. But in exerting an effort for such end-result, consistency should be exercised, as failure to do so could be tantamount to being negligent.

 

Among the ugliest manifestation of the Philippine government’s negligence and inconsistency is the creek at Baclaran which is fringing the northern edge of the purported “business-tourism showcase” of Metro Manila – the cornucopia of condominium buildings, malls, office buildings and the supposedly biggest casino in Asia. Practically, the creek that serves as the catch basin-cum-open drainage of Pasay and Paraἧaque that flows out to the Manila Bay, shows it all. How can the Department of Tourism proudly declare that Manila is a clean city with the obnoxious filth floating on the stagnant creek in all its obnoxious glory greeting the arriving tourists from the airport on their way to their hotels along Roxas Boulevard? Is this progress as what the Philippine president always mumbles? How can such a short strip of open drainage not be cleaned on a daily basis, just like what street sweepers do to the entire extent of the Roxas Boulevard?

 

It has been observed that every time a government agency’s attention is called for not doing its job well, it cries out such old lines, as “lack of budget” and “lack of personnel”. But why can’t they include such requirements every time they submit their proposed budget? In the meantime, as regards the issue on the maintenance of the city waterways, national and local agencies throw blames at each other, trying to outdo each other in keeping their hands clean of irresponsibility and negligence!

 

During the APEC conference which caused the “temporary” bankruptcy of commercial establishments in Pasay and Paraἧaque, as well as, local airlines and lowly vendors by the millions of pesos, the creek was almost “immaculately” clean with all the floating scum scooped up and thrown somewhere else. But as soon as the delegates have left, the poor creek is back to its old self again – gagged with the city denizens’ filth and refuse.

 

Viewing the Baclaran creek is like viewing the rest of the waterways around Metro Manila, including Pasig River, as they are all equally the same filthy picture of neglect, irresponsibility and inconsistency of government concern! One should see the nearby creek at Pasay where the Pumping Station is located, with an “island” that practically developed out of silt, garbage and clumps of water lily! Some days, the short length of artificial creek is skimmed with filth to make it look clean, but most days, it is neglected.

 

In view of all the above-mentioned, why can’t the national and local government agencies concerned co-operate and do the following?

 

  • REQUIRE the daily cleaning of the creek by assigning permanent “brigades”, just like what they do for the streets. If there are “street sweepers”, why can’t there be “creek scoopers” and “dredgers”?

 

  • REQUIRE the vendors with stalls along or near the creeks to maintain the cleanliness of their respective periphery so that they are obliged to call the attention of irresponsible pedestrians who do not show concern. Each stall must be required to have a garbage bag or bin, as well as, broom and dust pan. Their negligence in carrying out such obligation should be made as a basis in revoking their hawker’s permit.

 

  • REQUIRE government employees with sanitation responsibilities TO GO OUT OF THEIR OFFICES AND DO THEIR JOB, and not just make reports to the City Administrators based on what street sweepers tell them.

 

  • DREDGE the creek regularly on a yearly basis, not only when flooding occurs during the rainy season, which is a very repugnant reactionary show of concern on the part of the government. The yearly dredging of the waterways would eventually “deepen” them to accommodate more surface water during the rainy season, and even bring their bed back to their former level.

 

The costly effort of the national government in putting on a pleasant “face” for Manila every time there is an international event, as what happened during the APEC conference, may elicit sympathy and grudgingly executed cooperation, but there should be consistency in it….otherwise, it would just be like sweeping the house, only when visitors are expected, or worse, sweeping the dirt to a corner to hide them.

 

Cooperation between the government authorities and the citizens is necessary. However, as there is a clear indication that the concerned citizens, such as vendors and pedestrians, lack discipline, the government should take necessary steps in imposing measures to ensure their cooperation, albeit by coercion, so that whatever sanitation projects may have been initiated can be consistently maintained, for the benefit of all.

 

If littering on the ground can be prohibited with appropriate penalty, why can’t the same be done for the sake of the waterways? If ever local government units have passed such measures why can’t they be imposed authoritatively and consistently?

 

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The Crucial Significance of Planning for any Event

The Crucial Significance of Planning

For Any Event

By Apolinario Villalobos

In the course of my sharing in seminars on tourism as a resource speaker, I always give importance to planning which is a vital component of a tour package and a social event.

A tour package should be planned based on tried or simulated activities which involve time, mode of travel, offices, people, and outdoor events. A social event such as birthday, family and school reunion, wedding, debut, and other similar activities should b discussed thoroughly, based on presumed unforeseen consequences.

Today, some schools hire professional event planners to assist institutional organizers for the smooth handling of their reunion events. For such, I always remind seminar participants/ future events consultants that:

  • The organizer or group of organizers should give importance to the announcements, be they free or paid, via the different media such as radio, TV or print.
  • Calling on the alumni should not be limited to the social media such as internet alone.
  • It must always be presumed that most senior alumni do not use the internet, and in their senior age, they just rely on radio and TV to update themselves on current events.
  • Message of welcome on tarpaulin or whatever practical material should be posted at the town’s or city’s arrival areas such bus terminals or roads leading to the venue.
  • A registration fee should be charged to offset the expenses of the homecoming event, and whatever excess should go to the organization’s fund for future events or projects which the alumni officers can discuss after the homecoming.
  • The officers should encourage the coming out of ideas from homecoming alumni, some of whom may be willing to fund projects that the organization would like to undertake.
  • It is important for the alumni officers to know that their responsibilities are not confined within the venue and the day of the homecoming. They should be intelligently sensitive to “feel” whatever ideas that homecoming alumni would like to share, especially, from those who can afford to initiate the funding of projects by providing the necessary “seed money”. If such opportunity crops up, the officers should take note of the details such as contacts of the alumni and schedule for the necessary meetings with them after the reunion.
  • There should be a post-event meeting among the officers and committee members to discuss and evaluate observed flaws during the celebration and come up with recommendations for the next set of officers. The organizers should not be downhearted in case of loop holes observed during the past event, and instead concentrate on how to refine such roughages for the success of the next event.

The members of the committees to be organized for the homecoming should be made to understand that they have responsibilities. As much as possible:

  • The responsibilities should be shared with representatives from different batches of alumni, if possible, as familiarity of homecomers is very crucial in reunions, and which younger generations of alumni may find hard to do, considering the number of years that have elapsed.
  • The retired teachers themselves, who are willing to share their time and effort as part of the committees, should be involved. The young members of the committees should not be intimidated by the presence of the former mentors, some of whom, they may not even know personally.
  • Most importantly, prospective officers and members of committees should be made to understand that to be listed as such is not just for prestige or honor, but involves a lot of sacrifice, hence, they are expected to really work for their worth.

On the actual day of the reunion:

  • All members of the committees should be at the venue at least one hour before the start of the events. They should wear a distinct uniform for easy identification in case of inquiry from long- gone homecoming alumni.
  • Directional signs should be posted at campus entrances leading to the registration area and venues of events for the benefit of the alumni who have been gone for so many years and who should be presumed, to encounter difficulty in finding their way around due to changes within the campus.
  • Receptionists should be posted at entrances to lend a warm atmosphere to welcome the arriving alumni. It could help if willing former mentors can also be on hand at entrances to welcome back their former students whom they personally know.
  • Amplified announcements should be constantly made as necessary reminders. Most importantly, all officers should make themselves visible by practically checking on the development on arrivals until the start of the first activity.
  • A medic or at least a first aid team should be around to assist senior alumni if necessary.
  • The members of the committee in charge of fund- raising through selling of memorabilia such as t-shirts, key chains, etc. should be posted at the different entrances at least an hour before the start of the events, so that the t-shirt can be worn by the late purchasers for batch identification purposes.

I always remind the participants to the seminars on tourism/social event packaging that reunions are not made just for sharing of past days in the campus. Such activities are also opportunities for organizers to “fish” for ideas from alumni as to what projects to undertake for the benefit of the school or their community as a whole. As mentioned earlier, it should be noted that most schools today hire professional event planners to help them out with smooth handling of events. If professional event organizers are not available for their services as consultant, former mentors and alumni who are just “nearby” can be asked to assist and be made part of the organizing committee.

On the other hand, these professional event organizers should encourage the institution to involve prospective graduates in the organizing and handling of actual activities. This is the opportunity for the institution to observe those with leadership and organizational qualities which could be tapped for future homecomings. These prospects should not necessarily belong to the dean’s list.

Finally, I also share with the seminar participants that other events can be similarly planned just like the school reunion, that has been cited as an example. But always, the vital components of the planning effort in the case of a group, are the common sense and sacrifice, without the thought of who gets the credit in case of success. The group should act with homogeneity, as the failure of one is the failure of all… especially, the event itself.