It’s generous to say that Filipino commuters have suffered “this week” when we’ve been suffering for quite some time now. We can’t even chalk it up to resilience anymore. Commuting in the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila, is akin to going on a journey through the pits of hell. And commuters experience this twice a day.
Our heroes didn’t die for this
Things that should make you angry (and act) today:
* Sandiganbayan junks case vs Marcoses on ill-gotten wealth
* Supreme Court defers ruling (again) on Bongbong Marcos’s electoral protest
* Panelo denies mass transport crisis
* DepEd formalizes closure of 55 Lumad schools
— Philip Jamilla (@pmjamilla) October 8, 2019
If we were to travel back in time to let’s say the 80s and ask people what they think 2019 would look like, it would be far from the reality of what 2019 turned out to be. They would probably say the Philippine economy is booming, the government is led by honest officials, and, dare we say, flying cars? Every day the Filipino people are forced to face bad news and accept it as reality because that is just how we’re defined, right? Resilient – a word that’s attached to being Filipino. But where do resilience end and abuse start?
Our current transportation crisis (yes, it is a crisis) is just scratching the surface.
The current situation
During the first week of October, the LRT-2 which runs through 11 stations from Recto to Santolan was hit by a fire that damaged one of the train’s power transformers. The entire line was forced to cease operations and thousands of Filipinos were left with no public transportation. You can imagine what happened next:
Commuters are left to fight for seats in already full buses just to get to work. Some had to fall in line for hours and are forced to arrive at their respective offices at least 3 hours late. Initial reports said that the LRT-2 stations from Anonas to Santolan will not operate for 9 months until the parts, ordered overseas, arrive. That means 9 months more of struggling to get a ride every day.
LRT-2 wasn’t the first straw
SLEX shouldn’t be called express way anymore. Nasaan ung express don???? From Pacita to Alabang hindi pa sapat ung 2 hours allotment sa byahe?! Bwisit!!
— katkat (@katrinalauz) September 25, 2019
Late September, SLEX, or South Luzon EXPRESSway, started trending on Twitter. Commuters who ply the northbound route reported that it now took them an extra 2-3 hours just to get from one point to the other due to the Skyway extension project. Woes were tweeted and the rest of the nation can only sympathize because we all have transportation problems of our own and there’s apparently nothing we can do.
The jeepney strike
That US$37 million could fund the modernization of jeepneys without levying loans on jeepney owners and drivers https://t.co/VqdofqFzvB
— 🎃Moon-kukulam🌓 (@witch_moony) October 8, 2019
Last September 30, transport groups went on a strike to protest the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program, which is set to be implemented in 2020. The program is set to phase out jeepneys and UVs that are at least 15 years old and replace them with vehicles that run on renewable energy. Jeepney drivers will have to shell out at least a million pesos in order to get their hands on a unit and obviously, they don’t have the cash to shell out.
MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago, a former beauty queen, was slammed for saying that “the government will never allow them [protesters] to be successful.” Pialago’s ignorant statement, which fails to acknowledge the real problem at hand, naturally drew flak online. Ironically, she belongs to an agency which time and again has failed to do their job.
Rubbing salt to a wound
PANELO: “You want to arrive early? Leave early”
If you take three hours to get to work at 8 AM, you should be leaving by 5, and waking up by 3.30 to prepare. Obviously, Panelo is suggesting you use Shabu to be productive with a schedule like this
— Kae #StandWithBarurotNews (@ifyouseekkae) October 8, 2019
In a careless statement that angered the masses, Presidential Spox Salvador Panelo said on Wednesday that he doesn’t think that there is an ongoing mass transportation crisis. In fact, he encourages everyone to “leave early” to “arrive early” and avoid the traffic. His statement clearly did not sit well with Filipinos everywhere who have judged him to be ‘out of touch with reality.’ But did we really expect him to acknowledge the situation?
The wasted hours spent on the road could have been for something else
***nAkaKaSakaY nAmAn SiLA aH*** 😄🤘
***nAkAkARaTiNg Pa NaMaN yUnG mGa DaPat mAkArAtiNg*** 😉👌
***iF yOu WaNt To ArRiVe EaRLy, Go ThErE eArLiEr*** 😌☝️
— BrujaDeputaAdmlnisTraitor (@BrujaDelDemonio) October 9, 2019
The point of the entire clamor is that it seems as if the government is stealing a precious commodity from its people – time. Time is something you can never get back. The family of the people who died in an ambulance while stuck in Manila traffic knew this very well.
Commuting challenge for the privileged
Para patas, ba’t di mag-commute mga opisyal ng gobyerno? Tingnan natin kung di nila ayusin agad ang public transport pag nabasa ng pawis mga kilikili nila.
— Jerry B. Grácio (@JerryGracio) October 8, 2019
Those who still refuse to believe we’re undergoing a mass transportation crisis are
A. Those who’ve never tried commuting in the PH
B. Those who think everyone can afford ride-sharing services
C. So detached from the daily realities of our ordinary kababayans
D. All of the ^
— Stacey Bellido (@stacey_bellido) October 8, 2019
TUGADE- Secretary of DOTr
“traffic is only a state of mind”
PELAGIO – MMDA Spokesperson
“Jeepney drivers’ intention for strike is wrong”
PANELO – Presidential spokesperson.
“You want to arrive early? Leave early”
THE PRIVILEGED WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND
— Chaizerr🦋✨ (@chaizmorales) October 8, 2019
Try walking in the average Filipino commuter’s shoes and maybe you’ll be enlightened. Thousands of Filipinos challenged Panelo and he actually accepted making him the second Presidential Spokesman to pull this stunt. He is set to commute on Friday from his house in Marikina to Malacanang. Will he make it? How much will he sweat? And most importantly, will he finally realize that there is a transportation crisis? Abangan.
Remember the good things
How much longer should Filipinos endure stupid and insensitive comments like this from government officials? Mr. Panelo, you can’t obviously feel the crisis because you have a designated driver, govt car and gasoline allowance c/o the taxpayers’ money, our money!
— Attyforjustice (@attyforjustice) October 8, 2019
We are living at a time where everything is bleak and everywhere you look, you get hit by a barrage of disappointing news. Like we said, mass transportation crisis is just scratching the surface, there are deeper, more frustrating national concerns that need our attention, but unfortunately before we address them, we need to actually arrive at our offices first. Or even experience a stress-free morning.
So when despair seems to be everywhere, we need to remember the good things and, above all, as cliché and cheesy as it sounds, we need to hope that there is something better for Filipinos somewhere on the horizon. Because the horrors can’t last forever, right?
Share your transportation crisis sentiments with us below!