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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, April 30, 2015
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with Rolly Espina

The APEC fever

Rolly EspinaIt's enjoyable to go around town and see some transformation brought about by our 2-day hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference.

The façade of the Bacolod People's House looked great during the Welcome Dinner and although there were some traffic jams in certain parts of the city, everything seems to be in place and I pray that it will go smoothly from here on till all our visitors leave.

My niece, Maritess, and her husband, David Mullarkey from Seattle, Washington were visibly impressed by how the city has developed since they last visited seven years ago.

Based on their observation, if there is something that really needs to be addressed is how our public utility drivers, along with those tricyles and trisikads, should use the roads.

Defensive driving is the key in Bacolod if you want to survive without bumps and scratches since jeepney drivers especially would just stop in the middle of the road without giving any warning at all. So with the trikes that just swerved in from nowhere and woe to anyone who gets slightly distracted.

There is a saving grace though for drivers in our city. My niece applauded the fact that drivers do stop or move to the side when ambulances pass through, something which she noticed does not happen in Manila where they spent a couple of days before going to Palawan to attend a wedding of my grandniece, Isa Alvarez Roche.

At the Ruins, where another dinner will be hosted for the delegates, preparations were underway when they went to visit and I'm sure the delegates will be awed having their fellowship with the Ruins as their backdrop.

Police visibility is everywhere, including along the highways but they probably have arrival schedules of the delegates since they were just lounging around when you passed through, contrary to the pictures published in our local dailies where they were in attention, really guarding the highways.

It was good thinking, though for the organizers to setup tents for these policemen to take shelter from the heat last Tuesday was just too much. I also hope they have enough water supply and no one gets dehydrated.

Some things though just didn't make it in time for the APEC summit like the lamp posts along the diversion road. The bases are there but unfinished and I hope that after our hosting, we will continue the project and make our highways safe for everyone, and not just because we have foreign visitors.

I noticed though that the spacing of these supposed lamp posts are too close to each other and I wonder who the engineer is of that project and whether government can still save some money if they planned it well. That's assuming all those bases are really for lamp posts coz even highways in Metro Manila and elsewhere don't have lights that close to each other.

I have to make mention though and call the attention of the police vehicle with RHPU9 signage on its back. We were driving through the Burgos cemetery when this vehicle, though not in a hurry had its lights flashing.

I knew it has something to do with the APEC summit but it was obvious they were not escorting anyone when suddenly it just turned left in a no-left corner and made the jeepney about to cross when the light turned green to a screeching halt. Perhaps, the police vehicle or its driver is not from here if it was not aware of a no-left turn policy in that area but that doesn't give them an excuse not to familiarize with the routes here particularly if they are escorting dignitaries.

There was also this other black van with APEC written on it that unloaded passengers in front of Avenue Suites last Monday night. Without a care in the world and with hazard lights flashing, the van was driving so fast, swerving in and out of vehicles driving along Lacson and it made me wonder what was the rush when there was clearly no important event scheduled that night and it was clear that he was bringing back delegates to their hotel after dinner somewhere probably.

While we should extend our best foot forward and ensure the summit is enjoyable to all visitors, there are still traffic rules we need to follow and there are ways to make the delegates feel they are VIPs but fast driving must not be one of them, at the safety and expense of other commuters.

At any rate, kudos to the organizers of the welcome dinner at the city government center last Tuesday. The simple yet elegant décor to spruce up the Bacolod People's House was really a joy to behold and made me proud as a Bacolodnon.*

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