PGTW: Working hell-iday

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 26 February 2015, Thursday

Working hell-iday

            Some decision makers up at the Palace were not thinking clearly when they decided to make February 25, the anniversary of the People Power revolution, a working holiday.

Either that or they don’t get around the city the way normal people do, seemingly having failed to anticipate the hellish snarl of traffic that ensued when a stretch of Edsa was closed. What, these bright guys take a chopper to work, or something?

A northbound portion of E. de los Santos Avenue, which was the venue for commemorative events, was closed to motorists from 12 midnight until 4:00 in the afternoon.

This shutdown of one of the city’s main arteries resulted in heavily knotted traffic on lesser roads.

An officemate sent me this message at 7:45 AM: “It’s so trafik here at Shaw, the [office’s] Bulacan bus has been stuck for 30 mins now. I myt get l8 po.”

A fellow writer said she was “super late for work.” Another posted on Facebook that it took her four hours to get from Quezon City to Shaw Blvd. in Mandaluyong, a trip that usually takes an hour or so. She added, “I texted my boss to say I was stopping where I was and working from there.”

The editor of a news magazine left his house in Parañaque at 6:00 am for a meeting at Shaw. He got stuck for nearly two hours in the Guadalupe bridge area. He had to reschedule the meeting.

What sucks big time about the whole thing is that there was no advanced announcement made of the planned closure. If there one, no one seems to have heard about it.

This incident cements the country’s horrible reputation for traffic. The Philippines, according to the recent Traffic Index 2015 survey by Serbia-based research firm Numbeo, is the ninth worst for traffic and the fourth worst in Asia among 88 countries surveyed.

That certainly is “numbing” news. The traffic index, by the way, refers to the “composite index of time consumed in traffic due to job commute, estimation of time consumption dissatisfaction, carbon dioxide consumption estimation in traffic, and overall inefficiencies in the traffic system,” according to the research firm.

What the Palace should have done was to declare yesterday a non-working holiday. That way, inconvenience, frustration, and stress would have been at a lesser level and people would have had a chance to properly contemplate the significance of the Edsa event.

Actually I’m kidding, many people are sick and tired of hearing about it, especially after it became a tool for political propaganda for the Yellow crowd instead of a celebration of a nation’s perseverance and courage against a dictator.

Sadly, in contravention of the spirit of the event, marching protesters on Edsa yesterday were blocked by phalanxes of policemen with truncheons. Some of them were supposed to have made a human chain and met up at the Edsa Shrine to offer interfaith prayers.

It was claimed by the police (in live reports over the radio) that no coordination was made with them regarding the march.

But why would peaceful praying protesters be feared? Why would they be barred from reaching the Edsa Shrine, supposedly a place for worship for all Filipinos?

Where now is the democracy we fought for and all its rights and freedoms, including the freedom of assembly and the freedom of speech?

Even our freedom to travel is curtailed; because of the Made in Hades traffic situation, we barely even get around Manila!

Everybody makes mistakes, and no one expects the Palace or government in general to keep a 100 percent batting average. “Pobody’s nerfect,” as the saying goes.

However, the continual missteps such as these, even the smallest baby steps, only serve to deepen the prevailing gloomy mood of the populace and its slipping confidence in its leaders.

* * * * *

The Carlos Palanca Foundation, Inc. is now accepting entries to the 65th season f the

Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.

This year, the categories Novel and Nobela are open. Both are offered only every two year. Only unpublished or unproduced works may be entered in the contest, which encourages both aspiring and seasoned writers.

Visit the Palanca Awards website at http://www.palancaawards.com.ph for more details and the downloadable entry forms. The deadline for submission of entries is April 30, with the awarding ceremony on Sept. 1.

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