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!

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Memories from the car clutter

 

Yesterday I finally had the time to vacuum the interior of the car. I’ve washed its exterior at least twice in a month but the hectic schedule and the crazy weather prevented me from taking the vacuum cleaner out of the house and into the car. Yesterday, everything was perfect: sun’s up, I woke up early, and nothing more to do but clean.

The interior, in my own standards, was in a total mess. The carpets had all sort of dirts – grass, dust, sand and gravel. On the leather seats were materials that the CSIs would love to have (the only missing are those that would glow under the black light). And in the trash bins were candy wrappers, crumpled toll gate tickets and wet wipes that have gone bone dry just short of being fossilized. It’s weird but over the loud and monotonous buzz of the vacuum cleaner I was reminiscing what we’ve recently been through with our grayish car – and most of the time, Marcus was with us.

 

 

One grumpy clutter monster.

One grumpy clutter monster - won't take a sit at his own seat and loves rearranging the stuff toys.

Mary, our car’s name, has sent us to several domestic destinations already within a month: a couple of places in (and back and forth trips) Batangas, Bacolod and Subic.

 

1. Munting Buhaning, Nasugbu 2. Balulan, Manapla, Neg. Occ. 3. Resort somewhere in Bitin Bay, Laguna 4. Subic Park Hotel

1. Munting Buhaning, Nasugbu 2. Balulan, Manapla, Neg. Occ. 3. Resort somewhere in Bitin Bay, Laguna 4. Subic Park Hotel

Although I wish I could have brought the car with us in Bacolod thru the RORO ferries, it was with us at least until Park N Fly where it stayed and accumulated dust because of the offsite (parked outside the covered area) parking during that time due to the peak vacation season.

Mary also endured the twists and turns and the continually changing lanes of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) due to the ongoing constructions. It likewise muscled its way up and down the undulating road going to Munting Buhangin beach in Nasugbu, Batangas. 

 

I cant resist but grab the cam and take this picture while driving.

I can't resist but grab the cam and take this picture of one portion of the SCTEX while driving.

And the recent long distance trip to Subic was tiring yet at the same time satisfying because of the perfect road conditions of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), the newly opened Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and the Americanized traffic standards of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) free port where I gladly complied and actually loved the “first to stop, first to go” or what I’ve known from training as the “first-at-the-intersection” rule.

Some of the Pictures taken in Subic.

Some of the Pictures taken in Subic.

It took me about 30 minutes just to put everything in order inside Mary. Now, Marcus’ stuff toys are standing upright; and the China-made Tigger is once again back hanging on the ceiling; the old gas station receipts have been removed and accounted for, and the dashboard dials are once again dust-free. The trusty Honda City is once again spic and span. It’s now covered and ready for the next driving days ahead – let me check though if our budget will allow.
 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

 

 

  

 

 

 

The Rain and the Road

 

I can’t seem to get enough with having memory recalls every time the rain falls. Several days this week have been rainy and each time presents new random memories.

Baptismal…by Rain (Duh!)

Thursday. I commute to work on my motorcycle. Unfortunately, when the time came for me to head back home the sky went dark and the threat of rain soon became a reality – my first time to get caught while on a motorcycle. I was almost soaked by the middle of my trip and the laptop in my backpack forced me to seek shelter. While waiting for the rain to stop, I was unconsciously having flashbacks of days when times like this don’t seem to matter. As long as we’re with our bikes, sunny days and rainy days seem to be just the same. I miss the carefree days when we’d be racing in the rain and bunny-hopping puddles oblivious to the dangers such as riding without a helmet or any other body protection. Back then it was just our bikes and us, no worries. No pain, no gain.

Safety is an alien word.

Safety is an alien word.

 Star Toll way

Friday was another rainy road trip. After dropping by work earlier than usual and then driving to Sto Tomas, Batangas to meet my wife’s brother and his wife – both meeting being urgent and stressful somehow – I decided it’s a perfect time and reason to hit the long road again to relax. Thanks to the scarcity of the road signs and markers in the Star Toll way, I miss the exit to Lipa which was initially our destination. That one made me go straight towards Batangas City as the rest of Star Toll way’s well paved highway made me do 120 KPH with almost no effort at all.
Wet drive in Batangas.

Noon time?

That long and fast drive sent me back to a mixture of memories and imagination. I began to remember Kuala Lumpur’s road wherein Mercedes Benz and compact cars are as ubiquitous as our Jeepneys; I also recalled my dreamlike trip from Wisconsin to Madison which until now I can’t believe I was there for a moment in my life; of course, my playful mind won’t complete the process if I can’t link one experience to a TV show or movie – this time it reminded me of disaster movies. The whole horizon was covered with thin nimbus clouds that it seemed like it wasn’t noon time by then and the surrounding setting was just surreal.
 
Will Maxs chicken taste better here?

Will Max's chicken taste better here?

After lunch and a mall stroll in SM Batangas, we headed back by around 4 PM. The ride back turned out not to be uneventful. We had a near miss accident when some guy placed an improvised spike on the middle of Star Toll way. Good thing that I notice the guy doing something fishy and I remember from some motoring forum threads that this modus operandi is being done by some vulcanizing guys to get customers. I was doing another 100 KPH then, if that punctured our tire I hate to believe it but some funeral homes will for sure profit from that a**hole’s enterprising scheme.

Sta. Rosa Exit

Believe it or not, this is SLEX.

Believe it or not, this is South Luzon Expressway.

That Friday wasn’t made to be SSDD. After dropping Noel and Lani back in Sto. Tomas, we took another route home to Cavite. I’ve had enough of bad roads and I actually won’t mind another long drive as long as I know the way. So we took the Sta. Rosa exit instead of Carmona – this one has been in construction for a couple of months already and even to those familiar with it may seem dangerous especially at night.

Obviously, our public servants are on a drinking spree again.

Segment of Carmona Road. Road repair almost invisible at night. Beware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somewhere in the middle of our trip and while tuned in to Magic 89.9’s Friday Magic program, I heard a familiar name greeted by another familiar name. Hahaha. My wife sent an SMS greeting for me over the radio. I always find that sweet and that seems to keep my cool while driving. She’s done that several times actually but at a random interval which surprises me every time.

The last time we passed the Sta. Rosa route was more than a year ago and we had our cute Kia Pride that time. Nothing has changed so far but at least it’s better than keeping my eye open for road under repair signs (or the lack of it) in Carmona. An obvious improvement though is noticeable right after we reached Tagaytay. Now, at least large parts of the road have a dividing line between two lanes. Years ago, one has to drive with wide eyes open and lights in full beam to “survive”. At least, some of our public works officials finally (!) acted upon this problem. I’m just wondering though who (or how many) got into an accident for this to happen. I just hope he’s a politician.

1 Week with Mary

It’s been a week since we got Mary and it was one whole week of a new experience.

Day 1. I got Mary after being covert for two days. Just like in the movies or TV shows, now I know how it feels like to show a brand new car key to a wife.

Day 2. Got no choice but to do a dreaded task – do paper works (car documentation) in a government office. This is where one has to endure long queues for almost a day and later on pay a ridiculous amount of tax. I’m tempted to write and question where these taxes go, but to be fair with Trece Marteres municipality it has improved a lot (at least from the outside) since my last visit. Now I was able to park Mary in a well designated parking lot and spent some time waiting on a bench on a brick-paved sidewalk.

Day 3. It rained. Her first acid rain bath. Hehehe. I was supposed to go back to Honda Alabang to give the papers I processed yesterday but Mary had to sidelined – Mas masarap matulog (It’s better sleeping) while it’s gloomy and raining outside.

By afternoon, my wife and I were able to go back to La Salette to attend an anticipated mass. The last time we were there we took the bus and ended having brunch in Tagaytay’s Pancake house. Not bad. But having Mary is better.

Day 4. Mary went to work with me for the 1st time.

Day 5. I woke up late from last night’s neighbors welcome party.  Do I need to mention I had a “couple” of beers? Anyway, it’s one of the benefits of having a car. At least I was able to make it to work without much ado.

After work, the secrecy I’m keeping of what the actual car I got was eventually blown when some of my colleagues coaxed me to take her for a ride. Funny but her first trip with them was going to a wake. Ti abi. A beginning and an End?

How did she perform on the rough asphalt road? Let me answer with what my colleague said, “parang nasa eroplano (just like in an airplane)” – she breezed through the uneven road.

Day 6. I went out of work late because of an unexpected serious discussion with one of my people. The least of my worries this time is missing the bus.

Day 7. My day-off after a tiring week at work and in our village (issues, issues, issues).

After breakfast came my 1st intimate session with Mary – her first car wash. I just realized that because of her size she’s harder to wash than our previous compact car – wilddog.

Then I went to Honda Alabang to submit the loan papers and to get Mary a remote alarm. While waiting for the installation to get done I was thinking – “What more if I was waiting in Prestige Cars customers lounge?” Don’t push it.

The alarm was fitted after almost 2 hours. It cost me Php 5.7K – a 0.9% cost for security. Not bad?

Before leaving I got a not so good news though – I still won’t have my license plates until at least February. I left Honda a bit depressed that I won’t be able to meet my sis at the airport next Tuesday. It was actually the reason why I chose my license plate number able to travel on Tuesdays. I’m hoping that we will see each other next time. And hopefully not after another sabbatical.

By lunch time I was on my way to Batangas to pick up wifey. Construction of the SLEX has gone until its end in Calamba. Hopefully once it gets done, I can compare it to Kuala Lumpur’s road. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but somewhere in my brain lobes shouts, “asa ka pa (dream on)!”

Well that was our 1 week together. Within that period, I feel like we’ve been through thick or thin already. I’m praying that with the coming days, months and years we’ll have, most of it will be fun. Take note of the words – I’m praying.

It’s my 33th Bday…or is it 34th?

Life is full of ups and downs. The trick is to enjoy the ups and have courage during the downs – Author Unknown

Nov 30 2006 was one of the most exciting times of my life. And the week prior was just as eventful.

Since I’ve got to learn to write my birthday, I’ve been writing it as Nov 30, 1973. Lately though, while I was processing my Transcript of Records from where I got my Bachelor’s Degree, I had a frustrating and confusing time at the Registrar’s office. I learned that they’re reading or interpreting my birth certificate’s photocopy as showing 1972 instead of 1973. Ti abi. How could this happen? I argued. I’ve been using 1973 in my passports, government issued ID’s, licenses, including gun license (I don’t know if it would have helped in convincing them if I brought this one along). But it all fell on deaf ears. I was short of choking someone’s neck that day. Good thing, my good side prevailed (Psycho thriller movie music playing).

I left school that day with a confused mind, wondering if I would be turning 33 or 34 this year.

So yesterday, I anxiously went to claim my birth certificate from our NSO (National Statistics Office). And there it was. 1973. Legibly typed written on my birth date space. I’m a certified 33-year-old man, indeed. Never before have I appreciated my age.

November 29th. Coming from Starbucks near Shangri-La Makati, by the wee hours of the morning, I drove and made my way to SLEX on our way home. At one intersection in Pasay Road, going East, I was made to decide which way would took me to where I should be. I have the right, which is Skyway ramp. I have the left, which looks like a direct way to where I am going.

So left road it is. Wrong decision. Upon exciting that lane, I was apprehended by what appears to be a policeman and was asking for my license and who likewise radioed for back up. The back up came and was implying that I could get an easier way out of it. Now this is where another dilemma occurred. To bribe or not to bribe. I was anxious to go home and get over with it. But I’ve been a firm believer that bribing someone, in this case a policeman, is making one a part of the problem and not a part of the solution. So I chose the path less taken – i.e. I got my ticket and left the policemen with nothing but my driver’s license. I drove away disappointed but proud of what I did. That would cost me more, but at least I stand up to my belief.

November 28th. This day was unique for the T3 folks. That’s what I call my wife’s group. Instead of the usual Japanese buffet at Saisaki, this time, they’re turning Chinese (sort of). We had dinner at Tong Yang Hot Pot in SM Megamall. Majority of the guys are newbie to this sort of dining. Nevertheless, they enjoyed preparing their own hotpot and grilled foods coming from a variety of selections from the counter. There were oysters, dimsums, tuna bellies, chicken innards, tuna, salmons and veggies just to name a few. And the boys’ favorite was of course not missing – free flowing beer for P50 ($1). And surprisingly, it was San Miguel beer. I was at first thinking that it was home-brewed. And if you’re wondering, yes I followed the 1 bottle per hour rule for a driver like me.

Other than the beer-deal surprise, my wife went creative too. She got me a cake, delivered right into our table by the waiter while a repertoire of birthday songs played over the whole restaurant. And that was all for me. What a wonderful way to have an advance birthday party.

Right after that belly busting dinner, a bowling match followed. Yes, bowling. Good thing I didn’t got confused if I was picking a bowling ball or some else’s round stomach.

To cap the night we went to Nipa Hut bar in Pasig where we met up with a couple of ex-intellites, had some chitchats. We also had a couple of killer sisigs and killer gambas. And what could be more perfect match to those killers than beers. Yes. Beers. 1 bottle per hour again. Hik.

November 27th. The longest day. At least for a badminton game, we have ever played. We played and stayed at Lotus Badminton Center Inc. for almost 6 hours (rest and lunch included). If I remember it right, we started playing badminton since 3 years ago. Fairly enough, we have improved our game (in my opinion). We left the court by past 3 pm.

While on our way to the mall and pondering on pampering ourselves with much needed body massages and hot oil treatments, our car broke down. Luckily I was able to park it at the mall and did the troubleshooting right there. It was a busted alternator (again, since I replaced it approximately 6 months ago). I have no other choice but to buy a 2nd hand part that cost the same as the painting my wife was planning to buy. Ti abi. Good thing she hasn’t bought it yet.

I went home tired and dirty instead of refreshed and shiny.

November 26th. As a Sunday routine, I bought my copy of the Philstar (www.philstar.com). I was surprised upon reading that one of my favorite writer Max Soliven (also this paper’s Publisher) passed away last Friday, November 24th. While on his way home from Japan. Sanamagan.

I’ve admired him for his articles in By the Way. He wrote with courage and charisma and his style of writing almost never fails to amaze me. Well, that’s life I guess. Although I know that the list of writers with such caliber as Max are now dwindling in numbers, I just do hope that someone will come at par with the way he does.

Wherever you are, may you rest in peace.