Running the gauntlet

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

We all thought “Carmaggedon” would dissipate with the passing of our extended long-playing Christmas in the Philippines. It didn’t. In fact even at 10 o’clock in the evening / mid-week we can’t come up with a good enough reason or explanation on why traffic could be so bad.

I don’t have all the answers but the term “running the gauntlet” comes to mind. In running a gauntlet the victim is confined to a set space and forced to run through two rows of men whose only task is to inflict pain and suffering by hitting the runner from either side. If you avoid the guy on the right, the person on the left gets a clear shot at you.

Try to figure out how a high tech computer and satellite aided navigation system such as “Waze” can possibly be defeated by Metro Manila’s “Carmaggedon.”  How is it that after assigning the Highway Patrol Group or HPG and utilizing APEC leftovers to coral buses on EDSA, things seem to be even worse than before? The answer: Legal anarchy is unpredictable and unmanageable.

The evidence or example could be right in your neighborhood or at the nearest main road. I call it the “me first” traffic management policy where every local government or barangay prioritizes the traffic in their area while cutting off merging or crossing traffic.

In a chance encounter, a high-ranking traffic enforcement officer from Pasig City expressed his frustration and annoyance with the Highway Patrol Group because the HPG’s absolute concern is to make vehicular traffic move from Trinoma in Quezon City all the way to Roxas Boulevard, at the expense of traffic coming from the sides or along the route. Their priority is EDSA and according to the Pasig boys, this results in blocking and jam-packing vehicles on Shaw Boulevard.

Unfortunately, the Pasig Blue boys seemed to forget that even before you get to the EDSA / Shaw intersection, people coming from Pasig would have to run through the gauntlets of Mandaluyong City that prioritizes decongesting of schools, churches and malls. In one case they prioritize Shaw traffic and vehicles entering or leaving the Ortigas business center, but limit or restrict the time or number of vehicles getting on to Shaw coming from the opposite side on United and Reliance streets.

After carefully observing traffic management on the Pasig side, poor Pasigueños coming from Shaw Boulevard who need to go to Makati or Bonifacio Global City via C5 also have a bone to pick with their local enforcers.  As observed, Pasig blue boys prioritize vehicles coming out of central Pasig while blocking off or restricting the flow of cars going to C5 from Shaw/Pasig Boulevard. As a result, traffic jams occur daily during the rush hour.

This “me first” policy of traffic management is also seen around malls and schools all over Metro Manila where barangay tanods and traffic enforcers prioritize their clients or communities while treating others as outsiders. So when everybody prioritizes their own, what you end up with is utter chaos and eventual anarchy. We cannot claim to have a traffic management system if there is no coordination, no single authority and as long as mayors or their traffic enforcers have the right or authority to do as they please. The fact is no one is in-charge. Everyone has simply taken over!

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“Be careful what you pray for”; “God works in mysterious ways”; “Sometimes, the cure can be just as bad as the disease.”

I recently found myself sharing observations with a much younger person who took pity on a lady who had to do so much work to earn a living and then had to deal with having no maids to run her household. If you’ve ever tried keeping a job and running a house, you know that it is not an easy task and it can get the best of you.

As much as I pitied the lady, I also pointed out that sometimes God allows us to go without such things or comforts in order to address or correct situations or attitudes that can be disadvantageous in the future.

When my dad found himself jobless after martial law, he ran the house and gave everybody assignments and chores. All that worked into building a sense of responsibility, initiative as well as set skills that have worked well into our future.

Many kids nowadays don’t get to do much of the housework or chores that was part of our growing up. Just having several members of the family creating clutter, adding to laundry volumes as well as kitchen mess is a full time job alongside having to shop and cook meals. Suddenly having no maids to do the job will force families to pitch in, organize and be accountable and to contribute to running the house.

Ever since our housekeeper retired just before Christmas, we have “regained control” over our domestic affairs and chores and it has forced all three of us to clean up, fix up or restore order in areas we took for granted. We pride ourselves as “workers and cleaners,” but when someone is there watching the house, you tend not to pay attention to the details. Only when forced to do you discover stuff in the wrong place, things broken but unreported, work or improvements that were never done.

As an added bonus it was an opportunity to pare down on unnecessary stuff and a chance for our daughter to get more involved especially in the kitchen where she has started to learn how to cook quick and easy meals.

As they say: God certainly works in mysterious ways. What we see as a major inconvenience turns out to be a restructuring of attitudes and behavior that makes us closer as a family and prepares the younger people for their families in the future.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com


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