By Apolinario Villalobos
By its meaning, consistency is also about stability, reliability and dependability. It adds up to the character and integrity of a person, project or program. For the layman or man on the street, it is simply about “maintaining” of what has been initiated for a project or program, or continued show of righteousness by a person. Many reputable names of persons and projects have been ruined because of inconsistency.
In the Philippines, this word is best used in describing politicians and government projects. With the onset of electoral campaigns, candidates vie for bigger attention by making promises. When they finally made it to the position they campaigned for, they suddenly developed amnesia and their once affable personality, suddenly turned sour. As for the public structures, during ribbon cuttings, whisky bottle breakings, and whatever ceremonies, these projects are well-maintained, well-kept…but years hence, whatever colorful paints they once sported became ugly flakes. Saplings of hardy woods that saw colorful ceremonies for “green programs”, complete with mock “planting” executed by politicians and government officials in native barong attire or white slacks and white long- sleeved shirt, wilt just after a few months due to neglect.
In Manila, the four airport terminals are in such a sorry state that they are often subjects of criticism by travel bloggers, especially, the cramped Terminal 1. Despite the billions of pesos budget for their rehabilitation, no admirable result could be discerned, yet. The Terminal 1 still suffer from intermittent breakdown of airconditioning units. Despite the presence of some indoor plants, the feeling of crampiness is still there. The whole area is still small by international standard. The Terminal 2 is not without its own disliked character due to neglect. The terminal’s lone escalator has been inutile for more than a year as of this writing. Most plants are not regularly watered resulting to their miserable wilting. Some male urinals are clogged for a long time now with most of the sensors not working.
The bridges that lead to Quiapo and Sta. Cruz districts of Manila City are just intolerable, especially, the Quezon Bridge, part of which has been turned into some sort of a toilet that reeks with human waste and urine. During the administration of Mayor Lim, the illuminating ceremonies of the two structures hugged the front pages of dailies. The street lights were imported from China, made of colorful plastic materials which did not stand the onslaught of heat, rains and worst, typhoons. Bulbs were stolen by disreputable citizens who thought they could use them at home. Today, practically, the bridges are bare…the multi-million peso plastic streetlight structures gone for good.
The lengths of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system and Light Rail Transit (LRT) system were once magnificent with the plant boxes underneath them. They were unfortunately subjected to whimsical designs of whoever sits as mayor of districts that they traverse. If the mayor is fond of plants, the boxes are filled with different varieties. If the mayor has no penchant for any arboreal undertaking the plant boxes are sadly neglected, left to accommodate unwanted grass.
The span of the Roxas Boulevard once attracted hordes of afternoon strollers due to food stalls that sell refreshing snacks and drinks, benches and later, light musical entertainments that spilled until nighttime. When a new mayor took the post, all those were practically disallowed, the reason for which was that the boulevard became hangouts of robbers and pickpockets. Today, the promenaders make do with what benches are left.
The poor Pasig River that should have been “rehabilitated” long time ago yet, also become victim of political whims. Fund raising campaigns that also were favorite publicity items have become things of the past. Common sense among the concerned agencies and government officials did not prevail, when they looked for options to unclog the city and national roads of the Greater Manila Area with traffic. Although, there is an effort now to revive the ferry system, thanks to the initiative of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), it seemed inadequate due to limited extent of its service. And, the question is, will it be consistently operated?
Government agencies that become subjects of criticisms, especially, if these caught the attention of both the print and broadcast media, try their best to rectify what have been noticed. Image-improvements would be made for as long as they are subject to constant checks, unfortunately, when finally the media get tired of playing big brother, they go back to their old “attitude”.
Groups who profess to be concerned about the state of nature, such as the coastal areas, the waterways, the air, and the mountains, would arrange for press conferences during which they divulge their plans as their share in “healing” the sick Mother Earth. So on a weekend, usually, Sunday, fun runs would be held for this mission. At times, groups clad in t-shirts screaming slogans would congregate in designated coastal areas, pick up plastic and other wastes in a gingerly manner – all for photo opportunities. Some even hold rallies for this cause, during which programs are held complete with speakers from the Congress or Senate. After all those, nothing is heard from these “environmentalist” groups again. What I cannot understand is the failure of these people to start this kind of advocacy right in their neighborhood where unscrupulous throwing of garbage and non-segregation of same are rampant.
It needs strong resolve to be consistent. As it is a foundation for any advocacy, the best way is to start with something small, something realistic that can be done without many promises. Why make the effort to impress when such can last only for a few days?…a few months?…or worse, not what is really needed by the beneficiaries?