School parking

It’s my 2nd term already in Ateneo Rockwell but it is just lately that I decided to avail of the school’s parking mainly because of one thing – avoid the Powerplant Mall or the nearby Starbucks. No, there’s neither a threat of the dreaded AH1N1 nor an occurrence of carnapping incidents. It’s just because I’m trying to save. Period.

Despite still having a parking fee just as much as in this classy mall, parking in Ateneo have kept me for two weeks already from frequenting the Dunkin Donut shop inside the mall or the more pricey Starbucks just across the street. Now I’ve been going to school with a mug (bearing my ex-employers logo) filled with home-brewed Peets coffee and sandwiches or any other bread to go along with it – in short and in plain Filipino, “nagbabaon na ako.”

My Ateneo parking experience though have been quite funny and scary. On my first day, as I reach the first basement level, I was so glad when I saw the area with about 3-4 more vacant spaces. I was thinking, “this isn’t bad…so only few people do bring their cars to school.” And so I hurriedly maneuvered myself to a spot near the elevator (access to the building) where the vacant slot is between two SUVs. Perfect. But just I was about to turn my engine off, I saw this bold sign on the wall: Dean. Law. My goodness, I’ve just occupied the spot reserved for a Dean. Of course, if that title isn’t as intimidating, the next word below it made me scram out of the area and into the crammed third basement parking.

Today is another story. Every Saturday I have a morning class and so this morning, just like the past 2 weeks, I was already in Rockwell, Makati before 7 am. This time though, I drove directly to Ateneo instead of the usual parking in front of the restos. I was the first student to be inside the parking basement. And upon reaching the student’s parking area I was surprised to see myself in a dimly lit and almost deserted area where if I could have been on an MTV, I would have seen Jacko and his posse jumping out of each column ready to start the video of “Bad” – well, good thing I wasn’t. And as if the thought of Jacko dancing around isn’t scary enough, the way to the elevator puts me this time into a Dawn of the Dead scene. Imagine this: I can barely see my way thru and what guided me, and what are just visible, were just my cellphone’s screen illumination and the flickering red push button of the elevator still a few meters ahead. Next time, if get to school this early, I might have to park back in front of the restos and see if I can resist the temptation of the coffee with the green round logo. Ti abi.

***

My recent parking experience made me think, “Is it only Intel that doesn’t have a reserved parking space?” If yes, I’m now missing it more this time.

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

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SLEX Traffic woes

Yesterday I unexpectedly attended the Ateneo’s MBA freshmen orientation after being told by our professor that she highly encourages us to be there even though its schedule is in conflict with our Information Technology class, thus she’s allowing us to be out of our first session.Since I didn’t anticipated being there and that I didn’t anticipate as well that I’ll be coming home late in the afternoon instead of lunch time, I decided that it is best that I drive my way back to Cavite via the south Luzon expressway (SLEX) instead of the coastal area after seeing in the morning that traffic at some part of it has worsened due to the flooding after typhoon Isang sent torrrential rains.

From the Rockwell area traffic flow was surprisingly fast but just before reaching Bicutan, it slowed down as if on cue. Although I was expecting it to be that way as I’ve heard from the news, I didn’t know that they’ve actually set a very long counterflow which I soon learned starts in Alabang. Thankfully, traffic loosened up after I reached the Filinvest exit. But it was short-ived.

The moment I approached the Total gas station in Ayala, traffic once again began to crawl and it remained that way until just before where the Daang Hari road starts. What made is frustrating though is when I learned what actually caused the build up is just the road which is more or less just 50 meters in length but is now as cratered as the moon’s surface. Man, that reminded me of the DPWH informercial where smiling public officials proudly declare their “accomplishments”.

Well, today I sort of retract back all the spite I had from yesterday’s ordeal. It is because our drive from Cavite to Batangas started to pick up speed as soon as we exited Carmona. As a proof, I was able to maintain around 120 kph until we reached the Calamba toll gate where once again, every car and motorist got stuck due to the still on-going construction in that area. This time I’m not disappointed since I’ve seen how a lot of progress have been made since this SLEX improvement project started. By the looks of it, they might complete it as planned sometime in 2010. All my fingers are crossed.

***

Yesterday’s drive was also quite alarming due to several encounters:

  • I had a near miss when somewhere in Baclaran I saw a taxi swerving to my lane and upon hitting my brake and punching my horn, he braked so hard that I heard his tires screeching almost to a stop. Some people just don’t deserve to drive.

  • While idling at an intersection near SM Molino I saw one street kid approach me but he not only knocked on my window to beg, but I also saw him lift the door knob on my side. I let it pass, but I only remembered about the modus when after he left one of the passengers of the car beside me opened her window and said, “he was trying to open you door”. That warning reminded me of what I’ve read from one of the car forums that some unscrupulous group operates this way. They send one innocent looking kid to check on car doors. Once they see that the doors can be opened, they will come out from nowhere and will immediately enter that particular car and divest whatever they can. It’s alarming knowing that as early as now, instead of the Christmas season (ironic, huh?), these people might be already starting their activity again.

 ***

I now describe the SLEX as the Philippine’s own version of Germany’s Autobahn. And I’m now calling it AutoBat (for Batangas). Right now, what this highway lacks, among other signs, is speed limit marks. So until the time when these are put in place, this highway is basically free for all and it means speed here is controlled more by the sanity of the driver behind each wheel rather than the speedometer in front of them – assuming it works. Hopefully, our beloved DPWH officials won’t wait for the time when accidents begin to happen before they act upon this safety concern.

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Filipino cliches

“If you can’t beat them…make fun of them.” – me

 

Today I went to a nearby LTO office to have my motorcycle registered for the first time (it will turn just a year-old this August) and as usual I heard another not so surprising one-liner that it should have been made as this government office’s motto: “paumanhin sa lahat, meron lang tayong system slow down (our apologies but we have a system slow down).”

I’ve been hearing a lot of it for years since I started dealing (i.e., driver’s license, vehicle registration renewal) with them that such statement has become as predictable as sunrise (also a cliche). So instead of getting frustrated about the whole thing while standing still and staring blankly at the “efficiency” of LTO’s personnel, I tried to keep myself calm and composed and instead recall other amusing one-liners from different people. Here are some of them:

Sorry for the inconvenience” – DPWH, Maynilad, MWSS (usually seen on the same area but different time of the year due to poor planning and coordination)

P 1 – ihi, P 5 – dumi” – supposedly free public toilets.

Para sa kapakanan ng masa (for the poor people)” – Presidentiables and other politicians.

Paano yan sir?…” – Kotong cops after pulling over a motorist.

Mani, mani…mainit-init pa, bagong luto” – Peanut vendors (whose peanuts are obviously burnt after countless times of re-heat).

Nakainom ako, pero konti lang.” – Drunk drivers after a road mishap.

Hindi naman masagwa ang kuha.” – Wholesome-turned-sexy actresses justifying their adult magazine pictorials.

And the last but my all-time favorite:

Kumabyos ang preno, di umabot (brakes slipped, didn’t stopped on time)” – Public utility vehicle driver involved in a car crash.

How about you, any favorite one-liners? I’d love to read them.

***

I’ll be back this afternoon to claim my motorcycle registration renewal. I hope the LTO’s system is already up and running.

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

This car isn’t meant to be in the Philippines

(Picture originally uploaded by Trente-deux)
 
 

 

Late last night, while just several kilometers away from home and while cautiously avoiding a number of potholes that seem to appear out of nowhere (every night), I noticed a black car with its hazard lights on coming from my right side view mirror.

The sleek car has a low and wide profile and as it overtook me, I saw that it has this appealing 4 overlapping ring emblem – it was an Audi. Other than being fascinated at the rare sight of one lovely car, I was as well shaking my head (just as much as the bob head on my dashboard did) in disbelief while this Audi attacked the potholes and the uneven asphalt patches.

The Audi’s low profile, and probably the stiff sports suspension, made it act just like a stylus in a phonograph does – it went up and down, left and right as dictated by the bumpy and rough road. I don’t know if its driver cared less, but I was thinking that luxury cars such as this just aren’t meant for the Philippine roads…well, unless, he’s among those who are getting their car maintenance fees from the bottomless taxpayers’ fund. Hmmm.

***

Here’s another reason why an Audi, specifically the TT isn’t for the pinoy and more so to be talked about in Tagalog. Imagine hearing this conversation:

Pare ganda a, ang itim at ang kintab…pwede ba mahipo yan TT mo?
Sige pero wag masyadong diinan ha…bibigay ko yan sa girlfriend ko.

If you didn’t understand this conversation, good for you. If you did, fine. But if you did and you smiled…well, just call it an Audi next time.

 

 

Mood: 4/10 Honks!

The two sides of the story behind a car accident

It takes two to tango” – Anonymous

 

The Monday morning and prime time news is filled with news about accidents, most of it tragic, involving motorized vehicles. While watching it on TV I can’t do anything but shake my head in disappointment that once again, lives have been wasted and worse, others are lost just because someone failed to drive safely – especially nowadays that rain has made our already bad roads more perilous to drive at. All these pictures of wreckage, twisted metals and bodies, blood and grief sent flashbacks of my own bad memories.

I personally had experienced a costly driving accident that hounded my wife and I for days, even weeks. Although obviously the fault was ours, it could have been avoided by the other driver. That split-second collision played over and over again in my mind like a bad sports replay. Even with the lack of surround cameras, I can almost imagine what took place from all angles. And as much as I’d like to forget it and move forward, I can’t help but still think about so many what ifs and only ifs: If only there were no blind spots; if only my wife didn’t cross the next lane; if only the involved tricycle driver drove cautiously knowing that he’ll pass by a busy village entrance. If only he had braked just in time. What if we weren’t used to wearing our seat belts? What if the tricycle driver went completely through his windshield. I could only ask these questions and more, and yet not even receive definite answers. And even if they won’t admit it, I’m quite sure that the other party had their own regrets as well.

Just like that personal story, so much similar incidents happened and sadly, still keeps on happening as if most of us don’t learn from the repetitive news. Let’s take a look at the recent accidents that we have either witnessed right in front of us or just saw on the news. More often than not, we’ll see that each driver will try to reason out and give their very best to point the immediate blame to the other. It is also very likely that each party will claim that they have the right of way and that one didn’t yield as expected. It is always a hopeless and frustrating battle of one’s word against the other but the real truth behind it all is that the accident won’t happen had ONLY one honestly practiced defensive driving.

It appears though that more of this will continue to occur if we don’t do something about it – like having the common sense. With the traffic volume almost increasing every year, despite the recession, it is expected that travel time will increase, people will rush, drivers will become impatient and in effect become more aggressive. It is when rush hour ironically becomes a time when traffic slows down and it is also when people’s heads get hot sometimes even hotter than their idling engines and it is these hot heads that will likely to blow off steam way ahead of their car’s overheating radiators.

So with such condition making a perfect brew for an accident, a fender bender at the very least, it is usually hard to pinpoint who actually was at fault. It is easy though to have our own prejudice take over. For example, an innocent looking female yuppie is likely to get the sympathy (normally from curious crowds AKA uzis) over a ragged looking jeepney driver during a traffic accident investigation. Likewise, it is also easy to direct anger to someone who has hit a pedestrian than to ask why the pedestrian crossed a non-ped xing zone in the first place.

For me, who has been into an accident, I fully understand that when accidents such as these happen, there are always two sides of the story to be heard – that is, if one is lucky enough to survive it and be able to share his. But whatever the reasons are, one thing will remain clear and certain; that whatever the results of the investigations (and media coverage) are, during these times there aren’t any winners but only losers coming from both sides. So let’s all help preserve life (ours and others) while on the road by driving safely, by driving responsibly.

 

Photo credit:

Brave Heart (from Flickr’s Creative Commons)

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!  

 

Rain: love and hate

 

Rain, rain go away. Come again another day,” goes one of the most recognized nursery rhymes. There’s just something about the rain that makes most people love and hate it at the same time. I for one is among those who share such mixed emotions every time the dark heavens open up.  

Here are some of the things I find annoying every time it rain cats and dogs (sorry, I can’t help not using the expression):

  • Bad drivers. Someone who has taken defensive driving lessons will know that continuing to drive with the hazard lights on is a no-no. Why? Because it doesn’t allow other drivers, especially someone driving right behind, to see when you’re signaling a turn – that is, if one even cared doing so. If one finds it necessary to turn on the hazard lights because he sees it dangerous to drive under the heavy rain, he must instead pull over the shoulder and remain there until he thinks the road if visible enough for him to continue.

  • Pretentious road improvement projects. One doesn’t need to listen/watch/read the news to know that the Philippines ranks high among other nations when it comes to corruption. All it takes is for one to go out during the rainy season, take either a public transport or his own car, observe the roads he/she pass by and presto, he’ll know that those road improvement projects that most of the politicians bragged about in summer are something they should be ashamed of come June when rain pours hard and seeps in the meringue-like asphalt pavement. It wouldn’t even take a couple of days of continuous rainfall to expose these potholes that as an immediate effect slows down traffic flow to almost a standstill.

  • Bad house construction shows. Just like our “well-paved” roads, the rain too exposes bad workmanships of self-declared carpenters and construction workers. In fact, someone gave me a tip before, that it is best to check for a prospective residential place during the rainy season because this is when house leaks become very obvious at the very least. Other things such as clogged village drainage and poorly waterproofed walls appear even under a novice’s eyes. Unfortunately for me, I heard about that tip years after we settled in our current house which is now leaking as if some adult with incontinence.

  • Diseases come out. This is what I hate the most about the rainy season because it’s not just colds and flu that becomes almost unavoidable but it is the risk of getting mosquito-borne disease like dengue that scares me the most, especially now that we got a baby boy to look out for. Come to think of it isn’t this part of the task that our good mayors and village officers should have taken cared of? Ti abi.

To be fair, the rain of course has its own appeal and good effect:

  • I’m sucker for movies of any genre with scenes where it rains except for cliché love scenes where lovers meet, hug and kiss as if being wet doesn’t matter doesn’t count – it’s so overused and needless to say, I hate it…well most of it, anyway;

  • Likewise, I love being inside the cinema watching a rainy scene while it is raining hard outside at the same time.

  • The rain is a perfect match for coffee whether it’s from a 3-in-1 sachet or a Starbucks brew, it doesn’t matter.

  • I don’t know if this is weird, but I love the sound of the rain hitting the steel roof top, more so if it doesn’t leak. I’m so amused by it that when a real estate agent once proudly mentioned that the concrete-tiled roof insulates the sound of the rain, I for a moment thought that it’s a turn-off rather than an appeal.

  • And how can I forget that the rain makes it great excuse just to snuggle together and enjoy the cooling effect of the heavy downpour. Hmmm. Got to hit the sack. Good night!

 

Photo credits: 

Albert – car splash

Marcelgermain – man with the colorful umbrella

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

400 kilometers later

(Bolinao: Day 1)

On Thursday, we were informed of our reservation confirmation by a representative of Puerto Del Sol resort in Bolinao. She said over the phone that although the whole Bolinao is still out of power after the place was ravaged by typhoon Emong, they have power up using a power generator. Damn, that call was short of just saying, “Would you like to cancel your reservation for a later time instead, sir?” It was a dilemma, but with the pressing busy schedule at school and thinking that there won’t be any next time because rainy season is just around the corner, come June, my wife and I decided to push through despite the short notice.


May 16, Saturday. Just barely getting sleep after I crammed in finishing an assignment (which I regret having started it late, because I later find it interesting writing my own life book), I woke up with good weather beaconing outside. “It’s still summer, at least…nice sign”, I told myself trying to perk up my still sleepy self. By half past nine, we were on our way to an anticipated long drive.

Needless, to say, we got stuck several times in traffic, thanks (but no thanks) to the government’s infrastructure projects which I can’t help but wonder if there’s really a relationship between the timing of its execution and the coming election. By around noontime, and just having the packed sandwiches for lunch, we entered NLEX. My wife and I switched place, with her taking the wheel at the first Petron gas station in NLEX. She was behind the wheel until SCTEX’s Tarlac exit.

 

Wifey driving like Schumi in a Honda. See the G-force on the bobhead. Hahaha.

Wifey driving like Schumi in a Honda. See the G-force on the bobhead. Hahaha.

 

 

 

Rejoicing at the sight of a WiFi symbol at the first Petron station coming from SCTEX Tarlac exit.

Rejoicing at the sight of a WiFi symbol at the first Petron station coming from SCTEX Tarlac exit.

The perfect model for the Fat-Fat resto.

The perfect model for the Fat-Fat resto.

 

 

That exit, we soon learned, isn’t a good choice. We passed by two-way roads and had to deal with slow moving tricycles, road improvement projects (once again, take note), and reckless drivers. The worse was when we got stuck in Rosales where a newly opened SM mall was jam-packed with cars and people coming in to watch a couple of guest celebrities (whom I’ve never heard of). By around 5pm we were somewhere in Urdaneta, clueless of still how far we had to go. The worst came when we realized that we have a hundred kilometers more to go and that dusk is already setting in.

It was already dark when we passed by Dagupan and Lingayen and the lack of road signs (with me mouthing some remarks that its mayors will love not to hear) forced us to stop every now and then to ask for directions. Good thing most of the locals are quick to help. By around 8am I was navigating the dark, twisting and uphill roads going to Bolinao proper. Sooner, we saw what the resort personel was talking about.

Bolinao was indeed damaged. Like one bad nightmare, we saw what our car’s headlight can illuminate over the almost complete darkness. The electrical concrete poles are toppled; some are still leaning dangerously with only its electrical wires holding it from completely falling on the road. Large trees were uprooted; twigs, trunks and leaves littered on the middle of the road (and the need to weave in and out of these obstacles making the driving like one rally car race). And on the roadside are people trying to kill time outside of their houses probably since their favorite telenovelas and other TV programs aren’t available. I just can imagine what else we’d see had it been daytime. It may indeed take a long while before they can get this town back to normal.

400 kilometers and a mouthful of questions later, we finally arrived at Puerto Del Sol so glad that we got there safe and sound despite the unsafe road conditions. We checked in just a couple more minutes before ten with the three of us feeling like astronauts enclosed in a small space capsule for almost 12 hours; yet of course I with me feeling lucky and thankful, and partly guilty that while we’re about to spend a good night sleep in an air-conditioned room, the rest of the people around Bolinao are suffering from the lack of power supply, and worse may not even have homes to spend another night since the destructive typhoon.

Tomorrow, we’ll know how badly the beach resort is affected.

***

The last time my wife drove was already more than a year ago (it was also during a vacation), but thanks to the good road of the expressway plus the fact that it is a Traffic Discipline Zone or TDZ (why can’t we have a TDZ anywhere?), she just stayed confidently most of the time on the slow lane while trying to keep up the 80-100 kph speed limit.

Of course, most of the time I was a backseat driver (with our baby boy wondering why mommy’s driving the car.hahaha), or more like a coach because as much as I’d like to believe that in this expressway most drivers follow the rules, there are just some who seem to have utter disregard of their’s and other’s safety – these are drivers who would change lanes without signaling their intent, and overtake as if under the influence of drugs (or most likely, they are?). Some people just belong behind bars rather than behind the wheel, huh?

 

Next: Day 2

 

Mood: 5/10 Honks!