I Have New Wheels. Sort of.

Karma must’ve caught on me. Our newly painted Honda City ’08 was a wreck after last week’s rear-ender. It happened fast, I didn’t see it coming. It was all routine drive until boom, everything inside the car got messed up. Coffee mug was thrown out of the cup holder, my shoulder bag went from front to the backseat, pairs of shoes mixed up, and the dashcam dangled like a pendulum after it got dislodged from its windshield mount. Saw all this after I found my phone somewhere on the floor. I wasn’t meant to be in the office that night.

Cars involved in the collision minus the truck that caused it all.

Good news is I’m still alive and writing and won’t be taking jeepney rides under this cruel tropical summer sun (heat index registering at 40 degrees Celsius lately) as the trucking company owner shouldered everything plus the loaner car. It was a bad experience but this guy lessened the stress of going through the police report and the repair process. God is good. As of this moment, my car’s damage is being taken care of at a Kia dealership that caters all-brand services.

Didn’t expect that a loaner car was an option in cases like this.

What I find funny is that this year we’ve been thinking of either getting a van or a smaller car–wherever that budget will come from is another story–that fits our garage and that could carry a wheelchair. Now it happened, I’m back to driving a Kia. This must be why they say be careful what you wish for.

So far I’m loving the automatic Picanto. It’s fun to drive, it’s easier to park and it can carry all three of us plus the wheelchair. Just this Monday the red compact car got the three of us to watch Avengers: Endgame. I just wonder though if 15 km./li @ 80 kph average speed is the best it can do. The old Honda City have done better. Think think.

(Draft first posted on my Facebook account.)

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (It rained and looking forward to see how the small tires would handle wet road.)

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Spotting Riding Perils

This week, I personally know a person who got into an accident while on his motorcycle which I learned all about it after I have arrived at work–on my motorcycle. My friend survived the supposedly fatal crash but it’s one more person added to the statistic of motorcycle-related accident victims, whether his own fault or not. Now anti-motorcycle advocates are out once again with their see-I-told-yous.

These days proponents of motorcycles seem to be losing their case as the incidents involving two-wheeled vehicles share the headlines with reports of employees being laid off. Incidentally, these two headline makers are expected to thrive more while the financial crisis continues like an incurable itch. Nowadays, a lot of people are trying to save and one of the ways is by saving on gas. Of course, when gas gets mentioned, the thought of having a motorcycle, specifically what others call mopeds, scooters or underbones enters the picture. These crotch rockets are gas misers and it’s no wonder almost everyone wants one. And that’s because almost everyone can actually afford one.

This is when motorcycle safety advocates begin to have nightmares about this uncontrollable and unregulated scenario. There are just so much eager and capable buyers (and sellers) that the aspect of safety is often forgotten. Anyone with a cash or downpayment, normally just around Php3,000 (approx. $60), gets to go home with a decent motorcycle. That’s with or without a “valid” license, training, or worse, even without the common sense.

Now other motorcycle riders cry foul about all the stereotyping. Some instinctively point their fingers to the four-wheeled vehicle drivers for causing all the troubles. Others blame poor road lighting, open manholes, wayward pedestrians, and I’ve even read complaints about dog poops. All fingers are pointing to other factors but their own. Denial is the reason live motorcycle crash test dummies continue to exist.

Failing to recognize the risk is often what leads to unnecessary crashes. I remember from one defensive driving seminar I’ve attended the four guides of a responsible driver:

  1. Identify and anticipate the risk or danger.
  2. Act accordingly. Example, adjust following distance depending on the driving condition.
  3. Control whatever you can as you can’t technically influence others. (This is what I often forget. Hehehe.)
  4. Consider a plan B if everything else goes wrong.

Unfortunately, with the fact that not everyone seems to take time to even read about driving safety stuffs anymore is what makes the road a far less safe place to ride. It’s already a given that riding makes one vulnerable to elements like reckless cage (a term used by riders to distinguish a car) drivers. So I went further to identifying every risk that I possibly can. After more than six months of riding my motorcycle, I have compiled several of these hazards.

Stay away from riders without the basic gear or clothing. Riders are sitting open to almost everything hazardous and the least one can do to protect himself is to wear long sleeved shirts, long pants (jeans if possible), and a closed-toe footwear. Decent helmet, included. If you spot one without these bare minimums means just one thing: he doesn’t care about himself and most likely he doesn’t care about you. So stay clear.

Stay away from those with confused persona. These people are easy to spot. They have rosaries and crucifixes wrapped around their motorcycles (mounted on the dash if in cars) but when you see them, they are either poorly clothed (at times even lewd) or drives like someone who has just escaped from a straight jacket.

Stay away from cars with Japanese or Chinese stickers or decals. Some of these have even extra large ones that almost cover the whole rear window. These stickers scream anything but “I understand what my stickers say.” If these people don’t even know what the stickers mean, most likely they don’t even understand what an amber light is for.

Stay away from skinheads who for a moment are seen driving slowly over an ear-shattering base music. These people (often in their teens) are beat- driven so expect them to speed up anytime a Snoop Dogg rhythm picks up.

Needless to say, also stay away from pony-tailed or dreadlocked drivers especially if the car’s interior appears foggy despite the untinted windows.

Stay away from truck drivers especially those concentrating on picking their noses. I’m thinking that this is as distracting (or even more) as using a cellphone while driving.

Stay away from motorcycle-riding policemen without helmets. Period.

Lastly, stay away from someone who is absent-mindedly composing a blog while riding a motorcycle. He’s easy to spot. He made this blog. Ti abi.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

Memories from the Construction Site

Old walls down. Damaged concrete and dirt pile up. Rusty galvanized iron roofs ripped. Loud hammering from sun up until sun down. Dusty air and diggings here and there. Just total chaos and destruction, isn’t it?

Welcome to our house renovation, something that brings me back to my childhood days for a couple of reasons.

Sight and feel of the construction area

I could very well remember back in the days when I was yet a grade one elementary pupil. We used to live far from school and our parents decided that we transfer just near where my sister and I study. I can still vividly remember that since my father would supervise and sometimes help out in the construction of our new house, he built a temporary hut for him and his stuffs and tools right inside our 200 square meter lot. I loved eating in the hut even it has to be done by hand and while seated on the floor during the whole meal.

Every now and then after school hours, we’d drop by and play in the construction area. We would climb and roll down on the pile of sand; run along the ditches where concrete hollow blocks and posts are yet to be erected; play hide and seek in the unfinished rooms and do any other things which I soon learned later in life are very unsafe conditions. Likewise, the smell of anti termite solution, paint, saw dusts and wood shavings attract me—yes, I like all of it. Safety training at work would soon make me realize that these are considered harmful and wearing mask is required when working around them.

There also other things that never fail to amaze me: how the wooden scaffolds are built, and how the hose leveler works. During that time I couldn’t grasp the idea of how the workers refer to the water level as the correct level for doors, windows, walls and flooring. These to me are magic.

Made me appreciate how lucky we were

How young some of the laborers who work in our home project are, made me say that I was lucky. The man whom I got to do the job was Mang Narding. He has two sons whom I know are in their teens but are already working with him. I just hope that they’re in their legal age, or I’ll be guilty of violating the child welfare act. (Or I can just pretend that this is also their on-site exposure just like mine.)

When we were young my father works as a panday which means a carpenter just like Mang Narding. I realized that his job, with its meager pay, was just enough to support our family. But still, father didn’t require me to join him in his work even after high school. It has just dawned on me, how both of my parents strived hard to keep us going from elementary to college.

During our school years, I had to ask for my balon (school budget) daily because mother doesn’t want me to havemy allowance received on a weekly basis. Despite all that I was able to finishmy schooling and was able to work after four years of college education. Myyounger sister likewise graduated and we are now both working for one giant computer company but are assigned to different positions and countries.I’m still here in the Philippines, she’s in the US with her own family.

I hope and pray that Mang Narding’s sons will later discover that it’s not yet too late for them to continue their studies and hopefully, they’ll graduate and be able to help alleviate their parents’ situation and provide a decent life for their own family in the future.