Friday, September 29, 2017

No Entry

Just last weekend, the road in front of our house was closed because
our water service provider was doing pipeline interconnection works at the intersection up ahead. A “NO ENTRY” sign was put well before the digging to prevent any inconvenience to a motorist.

Yet they came - cars, school buses, tricycles... The traffic was greatest early in the morning perhaps because the drivers thought that at that hour, work would not have started so the road would still be passable. I could sense their frustration as they lost precious minutes backing up or making the tight u-turn on the narrow road.

Two days later, I saw that an additional sign had been set up on the road. This one read, “ROAD CLOSED AHEAD”. Yet still, they came. Intermittently through the day, a vehicle would cruise past the gate, only to turn back once the driver confirmed that indeed, the road ahead was closed.

Sigh. Why can’t we just obey something as simple as a “NO ENTRY” sign?

I have seen it happen time and again. Most of us Filipinos do not think that rules are absolute. There’s always that sense of “baka puwede”, that maybe, an exception can be made and wouldn’t it be great if that exception was us?

So we push because sometimes, we CAN get away with it. We are, after all, also easily persuaded. Sometimes, all it takes is a pretty smile. Other times, well…

Maybe it’s the lack of and/or inconsistency of implementation. After all, if our neighbor can get away with violating the rule, why should he or she be so favored? Sometimes, it may be that the rules also do not make sense.

The reasons vary from case to case. What is clear though is that there is a decision behind the violation, whether it is entering a one-way street or parking along a fire lane or going through a red light early in the morning when no traffic enforcers are in sight.

That decision comes from us. Just us. No one is twisting our arms to violate rules. We make that decision ourselves so we just have to suffer the consequences.

So go ahead. Enter at will but don’t rant when you hit a dead end or vent your frustration at workers when you're forced to turn back. You only have yourself to blame.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My First Ride

The first motor vehicle I drove was a scooter bike.
Image borrowed from

Details on how it came into the family are vague. I think my father bought it. Certainly, I was on it most of the time, although my younger sister Tina also brought it out a few times.

This was in the early 90’s before the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 was passed, so we didn’t wear helmets.

This was unfortunate since I took a few spills that would have been more bearable had my face been masked by one. 

But I liked the freedom, convenience, and even attention that the scooter afforded me. Cebu traffic then was quite laid back and it never seemed too dusty or polluted to go on the road without a helmet. There were not that many women drivers then, more so those on motorbikes so I would get a lot of looks.

At the office, I would get ribbed about my driving. One time, our general manager told me his car had been behind me a few kilometers before reaching the office and he was aghast at how recklessly I was weaving in and out of traffic. “Babae ka ba o lalaki (are you female or male)?” he joked.

My older sister, who rode on the back at times, often startled me when she’d yelp or curse under her breath at how close her knees were to cars or other obstacles when I would go into tight spaces or corners.

It was fun, though, and I was actually getting to love the scooter when I got into an accident. Early one Saturday morning, a telegram came for our eldest sister about a job prospect she had been praying for. Excited, I hopped on the bike and rushed to where she lived, except that it started to rain. Hard. Big, heavy drops that you could not ignore especially since they seemed to amass at an alarming rate on the street, submerging low-lying portions.

Squinting against the rain, I traveled as fast as I could since I was wet anyway. I splashed over puddles until the front wheel got caught in a hole I failed to notice until I landed hard a few feet away. I heard the collective gasp and turned to find it came from commuters stranded under a waiting shed. My face burning, I waved to assure them I was OK. The scooter, however, was not. It would not start.

I walked it over to the nearest house, knocked on the door and explained to the owner I just had an accident and could I please leave the bike in her driveway until I could come back for it with a mechanic?

Horrified, she looked me over and invited me in, but since I was still intent on getting the telegram to my sister, I declined and boarded a passenger jeepney. I was wet so I was careful to sit as far away as possible from the other passengers. Thankfully, it was a Saturday and still rather early, so there were not that many on the jeep. But I remember the look they gave me. One man told me I was bleeding.

Only then did I notice my knees. What I thought was rain was blood trickling down one knee. The palms of my hands were bright red. I had instinctively held them out to cushion my fall and both were grazed from the road gravel.  So was my elbow. 

Of course my sister freaked out when she answered the door. She cleaned me up as best as she could, only paying attention to the telegram when she’d assured herself that the cuts were not deep and that I didn’t need stitches. I carried good news, though. She’d been asked to come in for an interview.

To cut a long story short, I came home from a two-day work
Standing with a friend beside my first
car, a secondhand Mitsubishi colt
trip soon after that to find the scooter fitted with a side car so that it could be used as a delivery vehicle for the family business. My parents quickly silenced any outburst of indignation with an offer to help finance my first car.

Since I was eligible for a car loan from the company where I worked anyway, I soon got a secondhand, maroon Mitsubishi four-door Mirage with manual transmission. 

It was my first car and I loved it for years. But I will always remember that scooter we had. It was my first ride.