The Hopeless Light Rail Transit (LRT) of Manila

The Hopeless Light Rail Transit (LRT)

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

When I took the LRT to Sta. Cruz on the morning of January 10, 2016, I noticed that the driver was not making announcements about precautions and as we were approaching stations as part of their standard operating procedure. Instead of the announcement via the PA system, the security guard on board was making the announcement to the highest level of his voice that he could muster. I presumed the driver was not in the mood or just plain lazy, until I finally drew enough courage to ask the security guard why it was so. He told me that the PA system of the train I have taken was kaput…broken…wrecked, defunct – for several days.

 

While the LRT management may treat such breakdown a trivial matter, for the commuters, especially, those who are new in Manila, it is not. The announcement being made as the train approaches each station is an important information for the local and foreign visitors who are taking the “risk” of riding the LRT train despite the discouraging forewarnings from the media about its frequent breakdown. Without the announcement, those who are not familiar with the stations along the route must crane their neck to have a glimpse of the station signboard or ask other passengers, otherwise, they might overshoot their destination.

 

The joke today is that, if one plans to take the LRT or its “sister train of anguish”, the MRT, he or she must have an “allowance” of at least two hours. The two hours are for the trek along the rails to the nearest station when the train suddenly comes to a grinding stop….yes, grinding because of the frightening “metal to metal” screeching sound of the wheels. When there’s a downpour, pity are those without umbrella. When the sun is generous with its scorching rays, pity are those without the same contraption for shade.

 

The elevators are still out of order. The escalators are still resting. The toilets are still padlocked, except for one or two. But, fortunately, the employees are doing their best to be nice with their ever ready smile and uncomplaining stance even when four or five passengers one after another pay in crispy one thousand peso bill. These are the people in the lower rung of operation who are trying make up for the handicaps of the LRT system. Meanwhile, those at the top, including the DOTC secretary, Emilio Abaya, are so embarrassingly naïve to the situation that noisy calls for their resignation fall to deaf ears….theirs and those of the president of the nation, Benigno S. Aquino III.

Mga Dapat Ipagpasalamat ng mga Pilipino

Mga Dapat Ipagpasalamat ng mga Pilipino

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Kahit malaki ang problema ng mga Pilipino dahil sa mga nangyayaring  korapsyon sa gobyerno pero iniimbistigahan pa, marami pa rin namang dapat ipagpasalamat, tulad ng mga sumusunod:

  1. Buhay pa naman tayo, ayon kay Pnoy Aquino, yon nga lang kumakalam ang tiyan dahil sa hindi pagkain ng tama sa oras…kapos kasi sa perang pambili man lang ng NFA rice o bagoong. Nakatikim na kaya si Pnoy ng kahit isang kutsarang sinaing na NFA rice?
  1. May mga siksikang bus na masasakyan tuwing pumalya ang MRT at LRT, dahil hindi naman nakamamatay ang trapik, ayon naman kay Jun Abaya na dating kalihim ng DOTC na ngayon ay may lakas ng loob na tumakbo bilang senador kaya gusto niyang iboto siya ng mga taong galit sa kanya. Subukan kaya niyang pumila sa MRT o di kaya ay maglakad sa riles papunta sa terminal kung biglang tumigil ang tren?
  1. Ang gobyerno natin ay sobrang “maluwag”, kaya aakalain mong walang pinapatupad na batas. Pero kung meron man, marami silang butas na sinadyang gawin upang maisakatuparan ng mga korap na mambabatas ang masama nilang layuning tumagal sa puwesto. Dahil dito, hindi nila ipinasa ang  “Anti- political Dynasty” Bill, hindi rin nagbigay ng karapatan sa mga mamamahayag na umusisa sa mga problema sa gobyerno kaya hindi ipinasa ang “Freedom of Information Bill”, at napakamarami pang iba.
  1. May mga nagtitiwala pa rin sa Pilipinas na mga bangko, salamat sa mga maling report tungkol sa progreso daw ng bansa, kaya tuloy pa rin ang pangungutang ng gobyerno upang may maipambili raw ng buffer stock ng NFA rice, yon nga lang ay kinukumisyunan ng mga sagad-butong kurakot na mga opisyal, o di kaya ay magamit sa pagpapatupad ng mga infra-structure projects, yon nga lang ay pinagkikitaan din ng mga nagkukutsabahang kontraktor at ahensiyang may pakana ng mga ito….at kung anu-ano pang mga dahilang paggagamitan ng inutang na dahil sa sobrang laki, hindi na kayang bayaran kahit ng mga apo natin sa talampakan.
  1. Hindi binabaha ang Maynila, yon nga lang ay kung tag-init lang kung kaylan ay marami ang nagkakaputukan ng kili-kili dahil sa kakapusan ng tubig pampaligo, kaya nagmamahalan ang tawas at deodorant. Kung tag-ulan naman, at sasabayan pa ng pag-ihi ng ang mga asong kalye, pusa, at dagang estero, lubog naman ang buong siyudad!
  1. Nakakausad pa rin naman ang bumper to bumper na mga sasakyan sa mga main roads ng Maynila, sabi naman yan ni Tolentino ng MMDA na kinarma dahil sa regalo niyang mga dancer na nagkikisay sa stage ng isang bertdey party.  Nakakausad nga ang trapik, dumadami naman ang nagkakaroon ng varicose sa tuhod dahil sa panggigigil nila sa pag-apak ng preno at selenyador, bukod pa rito ang pagkakaroon nila ng high blood pressure dahil sa sobrang inis, at sakit sa bato dahil sa pagpigil ng ihi, sa loob ng kung minsan ay apat o limang oras, bago maka-dyengel sa isang pader o poste. Yong iba pa ay natutong kumausap sa sarili upang malibang…na nakababahala naman, lalo pa at mahal ang professional fee ng psychiatrist.
  1. Lumalabas na napaka-edukado ng mga Pilipino dahil sa libo-libong nakakapagtapos sa kolehiyo at unibersidad, isang nakaka-proud na phenomenon, yon nga lang istambay ang nangyayari sa karamihan dahil walang mahagilap na trabaho, kaya nganga sila pagkatapos ng masayang graduation na may selebrasyon pang kainan sa mamahaling restoran, o halos walang tigil na inuman sa bahay.

Marami pa sana akong babanggiting dahilan, na magpapakitang wala tayong dapat ikabahala sa ilalim ng administrasyon ng sobrang bait na pangulo na gustong magpatawag ng “Pnoy”…pero huwag na lang, upang may matira naman para sa pagmumuni-muni ng mga mambabasa, lalo na kung sila ay nagpapalabas ng sama ng loob sa isang maliit na kuwartong may upuan sa gitna. Mahalaga ang mental exercise na ito. Ganyan ako ka-considerate.

Sobrang Trapik at Problema sa Bigas, pareho lang ang mga ugat – korapsyon at pagkagahaman

Sobrang Trapik at Problema sa Bigas, pareho lang ang mga ugat

 – korapsyon at pagkagahaman

ni Apolinario Villalobos

Dahil sa hindi pagkontrol sa pagpasok ng mga imported na mga sasakyan, bago man o luma sa kabila ng hindi naman paglapad ng mga kalsada, talagang magkakaroon ng siksikan, na ang girian ng mga motorista ay umaabot pa minsan sa barilan. Nagkaroon nga ng mga “fly-over” subalit kulang pa rin. Upang mabawasan sana ang mga gumagamit ng mga sasakyan, nagkaroon ng mass transit systems na LRT at MRT, subalit dahil sa hindi magandang pamamalakad, palpak din. Hindi maayos ang lahat dahil may mga gustong kumita.

Hindi masosolusyunan ng pagdami ng mga MMDA traffic enforcers ang problema sa trapiko dahil kalsada ang isyu na pinatindi ng hindi makontrol na pagdami ng mga sasakyan. Ang plano namang pagkaroon ng “subway” ay isang kahibangan dahil ang Maynila ay binabaha, kaya ang tingin dito ay pagkakaperahan lang. Nakakatawa din ang planong subway, kahit pa sinasabi ng mga taga-gobyerno na gagawin ang lahat upang maiwasang ito ay bahain…paanong mangyari yan, eh kung ang flyover ngang nasa itaas na ay binabaha, yon pa kayang sa ilalim ng lupa?  Ang plano namang mga extension ng LRT papunta sa probinsiya ay naaantala ng mga dahilang hindi maunawaan. Malamang ay agawan ng isang bagay na alam na ng taongbayan. Nagsulputan pa ang mga “on call” na taxi na ang nagpapatakbo ay application sa cellphone, kaya lalong nadagdagan ang kanilang bilang na gumagamit ng kalsada.

Ang isyu naman sa kakapusan ng bigas ay tila hindi maintindihan ng mga mambabatas kung paano ugatin ganoong ang dahilan ay ang mga panukalang inaprubahan nila kaya nagsulputan ang iba’t ibang real estate developments na “kumain” ng mga palayan, gulayan, niyugan, at maisan sa iba’t ibang panig ng bansa, na tinayuan ng mga condo buildings, malls o shopping centers, at mga subdivision. Kumita nga ang mga taong dating nagsasaka sa pagbenta ng mga taniman nila, subalit ang epekto naman ay malawak dahil buong bansa ang naghirap. Nasaan ang mga batas na magmimintina sana sa pagiging agrikultural ng Pilipinas upang maging self-sufficient sa bigas man lang?

Kailangan pa ngayong umangkat ng bigas at ibang gulay sa mga kapit-bansa sa Asya. At ang nakakahiya, sa Pilipinas nagpakadalubhasa ang mga rice technologists ng mga bansang ito! Sa madaling salita, dahil sa kagustuhan ng gobyerno na gumaya sa ibang bansang mauunlad, pinilit nitong pagmukhain ding maunlad ang Pilipinas kaya hindi kinontrol ang pagbenta ng mga lupa sa sinasabing “investors”. Dumami nga ang mga infrastructures, marami naman ang nakanganga dahil sa gutom! At ang kumita ay mga foreign investors na pinapadala sa kanilang mga bansa ang kanilang mga kita!

Taun-taon ay dumadami ang mga Pilipino, subalit hindi man lamang naisip ng gobyerno na gumawa ng mga planong pangmatagalan lalo na sa mga isyu ng maayos na pamumuhay, pagkain at tirahan. Kapag nagkaputukan na ng problema, kanya-kanya na ng hugas ng kamay ang mga inutil na pasuweldo ng taong-bayan at nagtuturuan kung sino ang maysala…ganoong lahat sila ay iisa lang naman ang kulay!

“Hindi Nakamamatay ang Trapik”…at, “buhay ka pa naman”

“Hindi Nakamamatay ang Trapik”

…at, “buhay ka pa naman”

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Ang mga nakapaloob sa quotation marks sa titulo ay hindi dialogue sa pelikula, sila ay mga sinambit nina DOTC secretary Abaya, at Presidente Aquino. Nasambit ni Abaya ang nasabing linya nang tanungin siya tungkol sa ginagawa ng DOTC sa isyu ng trapik, at ang linya naman ni Pnoy ay nasabi niya nang pumunta siya sa Tacloban at may nagsumbong sa kanyang isang may-ari ng tindahan na ni-loot daw ng mga tao pagkatapos humagupit ang bagyong Yolanda. Sa mga linyang nabanggit, ano pa ang isasagot ng sinabihan, lalo pa at hindi inaasahang ganoon ang mga sagot na galing sa mga taong inaakala nilang bukod sa matalino, may pinag-aralan, at may mga kapangyarihan sa gobyerno pa?

Pwede naman sanang sabihin ni Abaya na: “pasensiya na po kayo, pero ginagawan na po namin ng paraan kung paanong mabawasan man lang ang problema sa trapik…”.

Pwede rin namang sabihin ni Pnoy na: “hayaan ninyo at ginagawan na ng paraan ng kapulisan ang tungkol sa nangyaring looting…at nakikiramay po ako sa dinanas ninyo dahil sa bagyong Yolanda…”.

Common sense lang naman ang kailangan ng isang tao lalo na kung may katungkulan upang maisip kung paano siyang magsalita nang hindi nakakasakit ng kalooban ng kapwa. Ang ginawa ng dalawang opisyal ng gobyerno, lalo pa at presidente ang isa ay nakikitaan ng kawalan ng simpatiya o pagmalasakit sa mga Pilipino na ga-bundok na ang kahirapang dinadanas dahil sa korapsyon. Sa halip na gumawa ng paraan upang mapahupa ang nagngingitngit na damdamin ng mga Pilipino, ay may kayabangan pa sila kung magsalita na kulang na lang ay sabihin nilang: “pakialam ko sa inyo!…”!

Sa sinabi ni Abaya na hindi nakakamatay ang trapik, ang tanong naman ay wala bang namatay sa alta presyon o atake sa puso dahil sa init at inis? Hindi ba nalalagay sa bingit ng kamatayan ang isang pasyenteng isinakay sa ambulansiyang dadalhin sana sa ospital subalit naipit sa trapik? Hindi ba nakamamatay ang makulong sa kotseng nagliyab dahil sa pag-overheat ng makina, dahil naipit sa trapik? Wala bang namamatay sa sunog na hindi napuntahan agad ng mga trak bumberong naipit sa trapik? Noon sinabi rin ni Abaya na ang hindi makatiis sa mga delay ng MRT ay sumakay na lang ng bus. Ganoon lang? Ganoon na ba kayabang magsalita ang mga taga-administrasyon?

Sa Ingles, may kasabihang, “there are many ways to skin a cat”…ibig sabihin, may mga ginagawa tayo na pwedeng ipakita sa iba’t ibang paraan o mga sasabihing masasambit sa pamamagitan ng iba’t ibang salita – mga paraan at salitang hindi dapat nakakasakit ng damdamin ng ating kapwa…bakit kailangang magyabang pa?!

Sa Ingles pa rin, may kasabihang, “rubbing in the salt to the wound”…ibig sabihin, nasasaktan na nga ang ating kapwa, dinadagdagan pa natin ito ng lalong nakakasakit na salita, o kung sa literal na ibig sabihin, ang sugat ay  mahapdi na nga, nilalagyan pa ng asin!

Ang mga sinabi nina Pnoy at Abaya ay lalong nagpalabo sa kanilang imahe na nalalambungan ng galit ng mga Pilipino. Bakit takot silang umamin ng failure o pagkabigo kung katanggap-tanggap naman ang mga dahilan, huwag lang ituro nang ituro ang maliit na aleng may sakit at halos ay hindi na makakain at makalingon dahil sa brace niya sa leeg?

Umamin!!!!!!

Sa Pagtaas ng Pamasahe sa LRT at MRT…dapat isentro kay Abaya ang Imbestigasyon

Sa Pagtaas ng Pamasahe sa LRT at MRT
Dapat Isentro ang Imbestigasyon kay Abaya
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Wala nang dapat imbestigahan o ungkatin sa operasyon ng LRT at MRT dahil bali-baligtarin man ang mga riles at tren talagang palpak ang operasyon ng mga ito kaya hindi nararapat ang anumang pagtaas ng mga pamasahe.

ANG DAPAT IMBESTIGAHAN AY SI ABAYA dahil sa pagka-atat nito na ipatupad agad ang pagtaas ng pamasahe kahit na mismong mga senador mismo ay kumokontra, at lalo na ang mga mananakay. ANO ANG DAHILAN NG PAGMAMADALI NI ABAYA?…NA ITINAON PA SA PANAHONG GIPIT KAYA HINDI NAGKAROON NG PAGKAKATAON ANG MGA KUMOKONTRA NA GUMAWA NG KARAMPATANG HAKBANG UPANG MAHARANGAN ANG DESISYON NIYA? MAY NAG-UTOS BA?

Malakas ang bulungan na kaya kailangang itaas ang pamasahe ng LRT at MRT ay ito ang requirement ng interesadog pribadong grupo na gustong bumili ng mga ito. Subalit ito ay hayagang itinatwa ni Abaya, na ipinagtaas ng kilay ng kanyang kritiko dahil ilang beses na siyang nahuling nagsinungaling.

Ang hindi maintindihan ay kung bakit kailangang itaas pa ang mga pamasahe ganoong sa mga huling badyet na inaprubahan ay nakapaloob ang malaking subsidiya para sa operasyon ng mga ito. Dahil sa nangyari, maliwanag pa sa sikat ng araw ang isang mabibistong dahilan na malamang ay gugulat na naman sa taong bayan. Asahan na naman ang isang black-eye para sa Aquino administrasyon na wala nang ginawa kundi magdulot ng pasakit sa mga Pilipino!

Quo Vadis, Philippines?

Quo Vadis, Philippines?

 

By Apolinario B. Villalobos

Before you proceed reading this commentary, I would like to make it clear that what you will find herein are personal observations and questions not intended to incite dissatisfaction against the national leadership or any of its agencies. These concerns are already in the mind of the Filipinos long, long time ago, yet. They are mentioned during informal discussions among “wise guys” in barber shops, in parties to while time away, in  drinking sprees. My intention here is just to open the eyes and minds of the rest who play blind and deaf to what are happening around us:

1.         The perennial  flooding of Metro Manila streets during rainy season and high tide. Did somebody ever mention anything about the inconsistency of agencies which are supposed to maintain the  drainage system? My simple observation is that they forgot the word “monitor” in their operation. Worse, they de-clog the drainage during rainy season, when they can do such during the summer months!. Sad to say that during the summer months, esteros are left with hardened silt compose of garbage and mud. Not any of the administrations ever thought of de-silting these drainage outlets. What they do is just skim the floating garbage, that’s all.

Still on the clogged drainage system of the cities, if floods can no longer be tolerated and agencies concerned are bombarded with complaints, the drainages are de-clogged and to some extent, repaired. But, while all these are going on, the manholes are left open to be filled again by debris, sands, gravels, which are just piled beside them. By the time the manholes are closed, the drainages are again clogged considerably. Again, months later, budgets are released for de-clogging, making some people richer. It is a vicious cycle.

The towns and cities are supposed to have Administrators. But do they ever go around to check their domains, so that they can also have the opportunity to find manholes without covers and dumped with garbage, drainage outlets without iron grills, and  the already mentioned hardened silts of waterways? Your guess is as good as mine.

Is the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) concerned only with streets and traffic? How about the waterways or esteros that are supposed to be given equal attention just like the streets, hence, the need for their daily upkeep?  The same garbage that we find on the streets are also found in waterways. So why can’t these waterways be cleaned up just like the streets on a regular basis? If it is not the MMDA, what is the concerned agency doing about it?

While wise guys always point accusing fingers to the plastic bags, household garbage, etc. as the cause of flood, have they ever thought that the entire drainage system of the metro needs to be “elevated”  to a  level higher than the prevailing high tide? No amount of campaigns against plastic and garbage can help if the issue on the elevation of drainage system is not resolved. The old outlets of the city drainage system that spill out to the Pasig river are easily “covered” by the high tide due to the thick silt from the waste coming from the ground and households. The silt has been deposited for so many years. So what can we expect when the occurrence of high tide is aggravated by rains? In Thailand, the river is utilized as a major traffic artery. Though, brownish in color, the river is free of any garbage, in fact portions are even used as floating markets. Sadly for our Pasig River, several attempts have been made to make use of it as a flowing highway with the establishment of ferry terminals and even operation of ferries, but it was short-lived. The agency concerned just lacked the drive necessary to push through with the project. Most sadly, fund-raising drives were made but with no good and encouraging results. Why? Because photo coverage and TV exposures were done and those were enough to somehow put on record that the government had a project of this kind, for Filipinos in the future to know that something was done.

2.         Laws relegated to the sidelines. Always, we hear comments that the Philippines has the best laws in the world. There is a law for practically against everything – smoking in public places, drinking on the sidewalk, urinating in public areas, improper attire of jeepney and taxi drivers, jaywalking, posting of streamers in prohibited areas during election season, vote-buying, drug-abuse, littering, sidewalk parking, squatting, etc. Unfortunately, none is properly implemented. News programs show solvent boys clustered under bridges sniffing the intoxicant, many jeepney drivers take to the streets in sleeveless shirts, shorts and slippers, jolly shirtless guys huddle in street corners and sidewalks with cases of beer or bottles of hard liquor, rampant vote-buying before election day, illegally cars parked on sidewalks, squatters proliferating in vacant lots and even under the bridges, etc. Why can’t these be stopped? The reason always heard from agencies concerned to impose appropriate laws is the lack of budget, hence, not enough personnel and equipment. Worse, they insist that there are no complainants. But let a violation be done to a VIP that results to media exposure, in a snap of fingers, these agencies, greedily grab the limelight and take action. What is commendable though, is the effort of Davao City government which is consistent in implementing the law against smoking in public places and fireworks during New Year. Some cities took the cue and followed suit.

3.         Commercialization of public education to an embarrassing high level and unattended needs of far-flung primary and secondary schools. Just recently, the country was shocked by the news about a student of the University of the Philippines-Manila who committed suicide due to her failure to take an exam resulting from her non-payment of tuition on time. Many more related incidents, though, some not necessarily reaching the point of suicide, are still happening in government educational institutions. They just do not grab the attention of the media because of their “insignificance” compared to incidents in big institutions found in Manila. As if the commercialization is not enough, children in far-flung corners of the country are deprived of their right to proper education due to lack of conducive facilities. It is shocking to find dilapidated structures with corroding tin roofs, termite-eaten walls, muddy floors. The measly-paid teachers, sacrifice substantial portion of their meager salaries to buy chalk, blackboard eraser and even pencils for most-deprived students in their classes.  You see them on TV, thanks to the effort of some stations. Interviews are made with the hope that their concerned bosses in air-conditioned rooms can give them a glance. Still, nothing is done to ease their situation. These bosses rely on reports by supervisors and superintendents that are too good to be believable.

4.         One-time usability of textbooks. It is very expensive to climb the rungs of education in the Philippines. Second-hand books for kindergarten school kids and the rest of the education levels can no longer be bought by parents. Enterprising personalities in the concerned agencies allowed the inclusion of test exercises after each chapter of the books, hence, making them not applicable for the learning process of the next user because of the answers in those pages. They did away with the separate test papers, a system which is an advantage for the parents who can still keep the books for the younger children in the family. This “bright idea”  practically made textbook publication and printing a booming industry at the expense of the poor.

5.         Inconsistency in the maintenance of public facilities. Ningas kugon is the most appropriate two-word description for most government projects – good only for publicity or photo opportunity during the few months after they have been inaugurated. All one needs to do is just to look around:   plant boxes dividing main thoroughfares that used to be painted with the colors of whoever is at the helm of the government unit are now with wilted plants and broken portions, bridges that once were blindingly lighted with colorful plastic street lamps  are now with busted bulbs and broken posts, toilets that used to have gleaming granite floors and walls complete with running water are now stinking due to lack of running water and worse, with heavily stained toilet bowls, lavatories and walls. The light rail transit system (LRT) with its sister facility, the metro transit system (MRT) have toilets only in very few terminals. Toilets at most terminals are not open to the public. But during their inauguration, the said facilities were proudly tweeted to make the travel of the commuters comfortable. Such displays were shown on TV, even mentioned during interviews.

6.         Corruption. Practically, all levels of our society, both the private and public sectors are tainted with  it. Everybody knows about the ghost projects, misused pork barrels, sex in exchange for favors, tong system. Generations of Filipinos grew up breathing its obnoxious whiff. The atmosphere of the country is heavily smogged with it.

7.         Political dynasties. It has become a profitable industry in the country. What makes it such is the great temptation to earn favors and money. That temptation is greatly enhanced by our culture, part of which are the padrino system and utang na loob (gratitude). Today, a negtive enhancement is the rampant vote buying during election season. This practice favors families who have the money to invest in politics, they who are willing to spend millions as they expect a greater return when they assume office. This practice is a glaring exploitation of the major sector of our society – those who live even below the tolerable poverty line.

Many NGOs are trying their best to correct the wrongdoings, even religious organizations are doing the same,  lifting not only one finger, but all fingers to be dipped in so many issues that plague the Filipinos in general. All efforts are to no avail. A foreign student was even  threatened with legal actions and expulsion from the country when he posted photos of public toilets with no running water and tissue paper. Instead of thanking him for bringing the matter to the attention of agencies concerned, though via a social network, the poor guy was treated as a persona non grata.

TV viewers are treated to scenes from time to time, of solvent boys opening doors of cars in traffic jams to snatch valuables from helpless motorists, climbing over fences along EDSA as their way of escape. But except for the TV exposure, nothing has been done to apprehend them. What happened to the radios that are supposed to be part of the gear of the traffic enforcers and are supposed to be connected to monitoring sites? If only the ones assigned to monitor the traffic through CCTVs, especially, portions of the roads identified where the aforementioned incidents usually happen immediately get in touch with their counterparts in the field, there could have been encouraging results of apprehension. But no, all we see on TV screen are interviews, that’s all.

What is lacking in our government is proper coordination and strict checking of those down the rank if they do their responsibilities properly. But how can this be done, when the guys up there who are supposed to go around and check are killing time in their air-conditioned offices? Simply said, our government system is not result-oriented. Obviously, it is reactionary in its attitude. The end result is finger pointing as to who is at fault.

Here is something on the rally culture of the Filipinos – the effigy of Uncle Sam, alongside with the one of whoever is at the helm of the country are always part of the show that climaxes every rally. Even the world-respected and spirit behind the People Power, Cory Aquino is not spared. To dramatically show the rallyists’ “deeply- entrenched emotion and sentiment”, conflagration of these paper structures is done as climax of the event. For so many years that these things were done and still being done, what have we gained? Some of those who are into this kind of activity despise Uncle Sam, but have the gall to fall in line to have their passport marked with US visa . I know of friends who shout obscenities against the government and Uncle Sam during rallies but spend their vacations in the US – in the homes of their parents or siblings who are green card holders!

All that poor Juan can do is draw a heavy sigh and ask himself: “where are we going from here?”  Indeed, quo vadis Philippines? Don’t ask me….