the loss of civility and our descent into chaos


Image by zoonabar via Flickr

(Soon after this was posted, James Jacob was named to replace Atty. Nelson Laluces as Chairman of the LTFRB. Mr. Jacob has held various positions in government and a former congressman from Camarines Sur. The first initiative he announced after being named to his position was to go after colorum public utility vehicles. Thanks Atty. Tanada for the heads-up.)

CHINO HILLS, CA – It is said that when Filipinos get behind the wheel of a vehicle, he becomes a totally different person. The sweet, happy and “mapagbigay” attributes that Filipinos are known for get left behind at home and he metamorphoses into an animal. Reason is thrown out of the car window and what rules is the instinct to just look after oneself.

We all complain about traffic yet we ourselves knowingly or unknowingly contribute to this symbol of the breakdown of order. Rules, regulations  and laws are supposed to guard against this. These provide guides as to what can be done and what cannot be done to preserve order. But when most of us don’t even know the rules of the road because we got our licenses through the farcical licensing procedures at the LTO, why should we expect anyone to know how to drive, much less know what the rules are. Indeed, how many have actually followed the rules as stipulated in acquiring a driver’s license in the Philippines? It’s more common to hear of acquiring one’s license because one knows someone who knows someone at the local LTO office or that the test given came with the answer key provided prior to the test in exchange for a “fee”.

When laws do get broken, the protectors of law and order are supposed to mete out the appropriate penalty to the lawbreaker. But when our law enforcers (police, traffic aide, MMDA aide) don’t themselves know how to follow the rules, what’s the point? So wala rin.

The final gatekeeper for the maintenance of order would be ourselves, our consciences and our sense of civility. The culture that has taken root, however, is one of impunity in breaking traffic rules. Sad to say, it has become okay to:

  1. Beat the red light;
  2. Ignore STOP signs at intersections;
  3. Straddle two lanes when driving;
  4. Change lanes without using your turn signal;
  5. Block intersections para lang hindi maipit ng red light;
  6. For pedestrians to cross streets even though the pedestrian crossing light is red;
  7. For motorists to ignore pedestrians and pedestrian crossings;
  8. For public utility vehicles to pick up passengers in the middle of the street (or anywhere else for that matter);
  9. To not give way to emergency vehicles;
  10. To bribe your friendly traffic enforcer when we get caught breaking traffic rules;
  11. Etc., etc., etc.

Nakakahiya. Think of the example we are setting for our children. I am sure nakikita nila yung pagbabayad mo sa nanghuli sa ‘yo. Kung magtanong man sila kung bakit mo ginawa yon – anong rationalization kaya ang nakapila sa isip mo na handang gamitin at a moment’s notice.

The sad part about all this is that it probably doesn’t bother your conscience one bit. It’s similar to a lie being told often enough that we soon delude ourselves to thinking that the lie is really the truth.

Then the hubris sets in. We are always right and tanga ang lahat na ibang driver. The old people would say – “walang modo!”.

Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself – am I really that person? An honest examination would have the reflection in the mirror say – “Yes”. Then you feel a sense of – well – probably nothing. Kasi nakasanayan na. You say- “anong magagawa ko? Eh, lahat naman ginangawa yon”.

When you finish reading this, siguro balik ka pa rin sa dating nakagawian. The problem is maski gusto mo man sumunod sa batas, paano ka naman maka stick to one lane eh wala namang marked lane sa kalye. Yung mga taga-gobyerno kasi hindi rin alam kung ano ang tama. Seriously, I don’t think anyone in government has given serious consideration to any holistic solution to this problem. Iniisip pa lang give up na kaagad. Kasi naman isipin mo kung ano ang kailangan gawin –

  1. Aaayusin mo ang driver’s licensing process sa LTO;
  2. Babawasan mo ang mga franchise at dami ng bus, jeep, tricycle, pedicab at kung ano ano pa;
  3. Gagawa ka ng maayos na mass transit system;
  4. Aaayusin mo ang mga daan at pag-iisipan mo kung paano mapapa-andar ang mga traffic lights para systematic at hindi mano mano ang daloy ng trapiko;
  5. Kailangan matatag ka sa harap ng batikos ng PISTON, FEJODAP, ACTO, 1-UTAK, ni Claire de la Fuente at kung sino sino pa sabay threats to strike;
  6. Kailangan humanda ka to have “Death Threats for breakfast” kagaya ni Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago – death threats galing sa mga dati at siguro kasulukuyang mga heneral na nagpapatakbo ng mga colorum buses.

So kung ikaw ay si MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino, si LTO head Virginia Torres o si LTFRB Chairman Nelson Laluces – surrender ka na rin without a shot being fired. You’ll just try to look busy without really doing anything about the big picture. Siguro kung si PNOY o si Mar Roxas, puwede mo pang isipin ang malawakang solusyon pero in the Philippines, mahirap nang mangarap ng mga ganitong pangarap.

So I guess at this point, there’s really no need to wait for the jungle to take over our cities like they did to the great cities of ancient times for the jungle is already here and we created it ourselves. Good luck na lang sa inyong lahat!


One Comment on “the loss of civility and our descent into chaos”

  1. Jorenz says:

    Dude, laluces just got replaced 🙂

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