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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, November 14, 2019
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The sound of traffic

Ninfa Leonardia

How do you solve a problem like the traffic of Manila? So many bright minds made suggestions, some silly, others noteworthy, but not workable, and still others bordering on the ridiculous. With the current craze for the creation of new departments for this, that, and the other, it is not farfetched to have someone propose another department strictly for traffic problems alone. Aren’t we in the provinces still a bit tolerable – if not more patient – with our traffic woes?

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In Manila, all that the Department of Highways – now that is the one in charge of traffic there – could say recently, is for commuters and drivers to “keep calm” (and suffer?) as well as give suggestions on what to do, instead of cursing and moaning, and dreading what to say to their bosses when they are late. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III warns that if you get agitated because of the traffic, your blood pressure might rise, and you could have a heart attack!

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What, then, should the exasperated traveler do, instead of getting exasperated? He or she cannot read because the lights may change anytime and he or she could obstruct the rest. Says Duque, and we quote from a published report: “Pray the rosary, read books, bring your documents, turn your cars, or buses or jeeps into your mobile office”. Ha! Has he tried that, I ask. Especially if you are in a full jeepney or bus with other passengers crowding on you while you are looking out to see if they are snatchers or pickpocketers?

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The latest is from Senator Grace Poe who, I believe, has not taken a bus or a jeepney all her life. But she now wants to create the position of what she calls a “Mobility Czar” who will do the magic task of solving the traffic woes of Manila. All right, the bill has been filed and, if passed eventually, will see us with another office headed by a “czar”. What a royal title! Let us hope whoever gets the post will not get royal airs about him. Perhaps they will also grant him superpowers?

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How I wish we could hear of more stories of heroism shown by ordinary people that I am sure happens very often in our country. The latest one to come out in a national daily was about a seaman who is credited for saving the lives of 53 passengers from a fastcraft that sunk in Southern Cebu. The boat had come from Bohol when it was swamped by big waves that started to fill the vessel and start it sinking, the report said. The seaman, identified as Ralph Barajan, noting the absence of members of the crew, took over and calmly directed the terrified passengers on what to do.

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Aside from directing them to put on life jackets, he also urged them to jump to the lifeboats which he tied together so they would not be separated and taught them how to breathe since the waves were washing over them. Now it isn’t that a heroic act? Of course it helped that he is also a seaman, and must surely have undergone training in such situations. Still it was an admirable feat that should merit recognition when validated. By the way the story appeared in the Manila Bulletin.

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All of a sudden, Vice President Leni Robredo seems more like the favorite daughter of President Duterte, the way he cannot seem to deny anything she wants to do the work he has assigned to her. Of course her supporters are worried, a lot of them are suspicious that this could expose her to danger, but the lady is still willing, daring. So let us watch her smoke, and if she is really given all that needed support – in manpower and funding – who knows? Big Daddy Digong can still claim the credit for having the cleverness to pick her. But let us pray for her, too.

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While we don’t really know what exactly is the ailment that has made President Duterte willing to take a little time off from his Malacañang stresses, we hope that is nothing serious that his doctors cannot cope with. Indeed, his close-up photos, especially the colored ones, actually show him quite unhealthy, and possibly in pain. And indeed, what he said to be a sign of myasthenia gravis, the drooping left eye, was very visible. Let us pray for his recovery. He is the father of our country now, you know. Let him get his needed rest.*

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