The Red Wheelchair Flies

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no…it’s a wheelchair. Yes, the long wait is over and Marcus and his wheelchair is flying against all odds, against weird baggage weight requirement.

I’ll be there…

Our plan to pack light, just a carry-on bag and one for check in, seems like a bad idea. We didn’t know that what works in domestic flight won’t do in international. We discovered that the weight requirement is strictly enforced per bag so we have to summon our packing talent, or the lack of it, in a whim. It was a good thing we brought one extra backpack to distribute the excess stuffs. We eventually found ourselves waiting to board the aircraft, tired, hungry, sleepy but we made it.

 

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (That expensive jumbo siopao made my day.)

 

Offline

It is another work day again so off to work I go. I arrived at the office on time, actually earlier, just like how any good employee should be. I am all fresh, spic and span, and my barong and pair of slacks neatly pressed. Of course, black shoes shiny and bright.  Our day officially starts with a prayer, then a flag ceremony, and followed by a pledge of service to the public. All of it happen in front of our office, right outside where everyone can see, right in front of our clients who eagerly wait to get their business with us done so that they can finish their other plans for the day. They are here to deal with their licenses, car registration, and the likes. Yes, I am an LTO employee.

Finally seated at my post, computer’s up and running, and about to start work then I heard the word passed around. It spread inside the office fast yet faster outside. In minutes everyone learned about the word.

Few more minutes and clients outside my window filled the blue adjoining steel seats. It didn’t take any longer before sarcastic remarks fly by. Remarks that, while from different faces and ages and walks of life and on a different day, are very similar in nature. But man, I have gotten used to these somehow. Over the years my superiors have told me that to survive I have to ignore unsolicited advice from senior citizens who don’t understand technology; from the young ones who are arrogant and seem to know better as if it’s a matter of pushing the reset button and everything goes back online. We consider these as trivial job ‘hazards’ and I have learned to let each pass through the other ear. All in a day’s work.

My name is posted outside, right in front of my stall, on the MV registration workflow. I am very aware of that. In fact, I told my family all about it the very first time our office placed the tarpaulin there and they were so very proud of me—my child especially. He has told his classmates about it as well. The workflow states that transaction time ends after 90 minutes. But does it? Sometimes yes, sometimes not. Blame it on the word.

The clock is ticking, didn’t realize that almost two hours have passed, and I looked out my window again. People are getting restless, more restless than the time they first heard the word. Some have returned with something to munch on just as if they’re on a DVD marathon.

Some have entertained themselves with something that is of no cost. I can see some staring purposely on the no noon break poster. The assurance of it doesn’t help I know. I imagine some planning something sinister if only they can get away with it—like a car jack smashed into the glass or a flash bang being tossed inside our office just to awaken our senses. If they do that I actually can’t blame them. I believed though that these people, however fidgety they start to get, are civil. Up to when, however, that I don’t know. For example, any moment from now and this one bald man in black shirt and faded camouflage cargo shorts could snap. Heaven forbid. His queue number shows 26 and half more behind him looks just as irritated.

He has actually started a discussion around just to take a break from what seems an ebook he was occupied with a while ago—back when he seems to show some patience. How inept this government agency is; why wonder how EDSA and other highways are full of reckless drivers when in the LTO compound alone are people who drives in and out with total disregard of the law—motorcycle riders without helmet, cars with tinted plates, drivers who do not know how to park. Everything happening right in front of our senior officials. Those were some of his ice breakers and others do agree with him. He may be a politician in the making. Someone please make him stop.

Wait, I heard a familiar voice on the public address system. There is an announcement, the queue numbers are being called, they are not offline anymore. Back in business. Back to being me, for I am just an ordinary citizen, never an LTO employee, just someone trying hard to understand what it feels to be like working in an organization that is almost synonymous to this one word. Come to think of it LTO must stand for Land Transportation Offline.

So when do I see you again LTO? Maybe after 45 days as promised on your memorandum on new plates? Or would I be too naive to expect that from you? By the way, I checked your list of newly released plates while waiting to pay at the cashier and I saw that these are from people who renewed their car registration in January. Yes, I know the answer.

My SMS with wifey during that day at the LTO.

Revision: Added this pic because as always my wife demands an image on my post.

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Smile, there’s a light at the end of the LTO tunnel. Read this LTO chief: ‘We’re looking at processing licenses in 10-15 minutes by November’

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 Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Eager to go back to the gym.)

It’s Christmas Time (Again)

MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!
Creative Commons Flickr image from Rejik.

The most awaited start of the ‘ber’ months is here. It is the time when us Filipinos begin to feel the spirit of Christmas. Like today while waiting for Marcus to finish his class I heard on the radio Band Aid’s It’s Christmas Time. What’s more, the station will now play one Christmas song every hour until December.

It is also to be expected that any time soon people will see malls with Christmas decorations and yuletide tunes playing in the background and in effect, like a subliminal message, entice more people to spend and splurge.

But one doesn’t need money to enjoy what we claim as the longest Christmas season. In the name of tourism–local and foreign, spectacular giant Christmas trees and sparkling lights are expected to illuminate streets of major cities and business centers–Makati commercial business district, Rockwell,  and Nuvali are places to be. Petron gas stations have likewise held their annual Christmas decoration contest which I hope they continue this year.

A better way of course to feel the real spirit of Christmas is to start as early as now to realize the true reason of this celebration. Admittedly, however, in the midst of strong influence of commercialism, to see Christ in the middle of it all is a big challenge. For most of us, we get lost when we have the material things that give us that Christmassy feeling. It therefore helps to reflect regularly each day and recognize that there is deeper reason behind all these. God bless everyone, it’s Christmas time.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Labor day in the US.)

Safer Roads With House Bill 4160

Everyday I pass this area where pedestrians merrily cross the street as they end their day. It is a sight of perfect harmony, students and some of their teachers alike go together to the other side of the road to wait for their ride home. But what do I find so wrong in this picture? They are jaywalking.

The area has been an accident magnet. I have seen countless times serious–worst so far was a man flying like a ragdoll after being hit by a closed van–incidents that could have been totally avoided. So I was very thankful when the local government finally constructed the overpass about five years ago but sadly it didn’t take long for people to start jaywalking again.

I was so curious with the unpopularity of the overpass so I checked it out during one of my early morning runs. Other than the graffiti-filled sides, I found out that there there is really no strong reason for pedestrians not to use it. I couldn’t help but surmise that most are just merely lazy to take the stairs and lack the discipline to use the pedestrian overpass–sadly including teachers in uniform of the nearby school.

Fortunately, we still have lawmakers who keep themselves busy. Just this week I heard about House Bill 4160 that two house representatives have filed. The new bill seeks to include traffic safety in the basic education curriculum of students from elementary to high school. I am now keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that the bill gets approved and strictly implemented soon.

***

To be fair, I see possible reasons when jaywalking instead of crossing a pedestrian overpass (or underpass) is acceptable. Firstly, there have been a lot of overpass wherein homeless people have used it as their shelter–some considered not temporary–and they are usually suspects in snatching and robbing those who pass by the overpass. A well-lit and guarded area should keep them away from it.

Then there are those who are physically unable. For overpass without an elevator or escalator, pedestrians such as pregnant women, the frail senior citizens, and the handicaps won’t be able to use it without assistance. Now how could they safely cross the other side on their own? It would take considerate drivers to discern and let them through. And that is another part of the story.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! ( Almost noon, Marcus just woke. His class starts in few hours.)

The Squatters Mentality

Demolition. Scarborough. Demolition. Scarborough. Demolition. Scarborough. These continue to flood the news and both have something in common. I realized that the slums is a microcosm of the ongoing conflict that is happening between us and our neighboring countries who claim that they too own Scarborough Shoal and the Spratlys Island. This local and international news mixed up has been so strong that I think that there are things from the steadfast squatters that every country uses too to strengthen their own claim of the disputed Islands in the South China Sea:

1. Our parents said it’s ours, so it’s ours. (According to web references, the Chinese believe that these islands are theirs since 200 BC.)

2. We were born here, so it’s ours.

3. We’ve already built a house here, so it’s ours. (Several claimants have built their own structure in Spratlys.)

4. No relocation, no deal. (Personal appeal: please relocate me to the West before you guys resort to #5.)

5. Mess us and we’ll mess with you. (This can get ugly…or stinky at the very least. Let’s avoid this at all cost.)

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Hot Monday morning but wifey and Marcus don’t seem to care—they’re still in bed.)

There is Beauty in Trash Talk

The recent typhoon Mina (international name Nanmadol) has exposed once again the ever stinky truth our country has to face—waste management. In Baguio, several people, including innocent children, perished when heap of trash buried them after heavy rainfall triggered a landslide.

Sadly, this isn’t the first incident here in the Philippines wherein piles of garbage has caused death or injury. Several years ago the infamous Payatas tragedy took the lives of more than 200 people living near this open dumpsite. It was a wakeup call for those who survived and it sent an alarm to the government officials who acted, however late, to address this problem. Since then open dumpsites were outlawed. Or so we thought.

Now that this unfortunate news is all over the headlines, people begin to ask the same old questions. Who should be blamed for all these? The ordinary Juan De La Cruzes who on their way home would toss their fast food packaging anywhere they feel like it? The government officials who fail to implement the law? Or should this be again considered as an act of God—a reason that has been so overused by people who would try to cover their own insensitivities, carelessness or incompetence.

But while we try to find answers, for the nth time, to these seemingly hopeless questions, it is nice to know that there are still others whose minds are open and who still continue to seek solutions. For example, there is the beautiful and famous Anne Curtis Smith who openly declared on twitter (@annecurtissmith) her intent to use her popularity in an attempt to revive or improve the waste management awareness campaign. How far it will go, I don’t know but with her appeal and capability to influence others, I would like to believe that her advocacy will improve the way most of us take care of our environment. I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I really wouldn’t want to see this happen again.

For now, indulge me. I can’t let this moment pass without letting the world know that I had a short discussion with this lovely actress.

Seconds of fame brought by mere mention of my name by Anne Curtis Smith.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Happy kind of sleepy.)