By Tedler D. Depaynos, MD
An old coffee mate who had been abroad for quite some time came home after retirement, probably to settle permanently. He was surprised that the city he grew up in appears to be so crowded and it is now too small for its multiplying population. The bare mountains before are now crowded with houses of different colors with galvanized iron roofs and tall condominiums appear to be everywhere. White taxis are too numerous but waiting passengers never seem to lessen in number specially on these holidays. Traffic is terrible! He had to wait for his turn for a taxi ride for nearly two hours one Sunday afternoon at SM.
When he came from Manila, Kennon Road was closed and still closed and the SUVs and vans going up and down Marcos Highway could not be counted. The very short travel time is attracting multitudes of visitors contributing to the heavy traffic. It took them only more or less 4 hours to reach the city from Metro Manila when before during his student days he could recall that the old Dangwa Tranco bus would take not less than 8 hours.
He was glad when he read that the new mayor is serious in rehabilitating the city just like what was done in Boracay.
One of his joys in returning home is taking care of his grandchildren or “Apos”. He fetches one of them from time to time from a nearby elementary school and sometimes had a hard time parking near the school. He does not mind walking provided the weather was good and they can even drop by at the McDo or Jollybee which his “apo” enjoys.
He was relating his recent experience as he sipped his coffee which made him blush with anger. Because of a sudden unexpected rain many of those fetching were forced to park in front of the school even with the conspicuously placed NO PARKING sign. Two police traffic enforcers did not bother them and just helped ease the traffic. They were apparently lenient because of the unpredicted rain. Suddenly a seemingly civilian traffic enforcer with no nameplate began berating the waiting drivers and shouting at them to drive away and even taking pictures of their waiting vehicles promising that they would be “arrested”. Obviously, the drivers refused to move because their kids were already coming out and they did not like to leave them alone in the rain. Despite the verbal appeal of the waiting drivers, the traffic enforcer was adamant and kept on shouting and emphasizing that parking is not allowed even for a few minutes.
He said he was lucky that his “apo” came out earlier so he did not know what happened to those left behind. He emphasized, however, that for the sake of his “apo”, he was willing to sacrifice even if his LTO plate or license would have been confiscated. The safety of his “apo” was a priority! He salutes the traffic enforcer for doing his job but described him as “heartless” unlike the other uniformed police enforcers who seemed to understand and became humanely lenient. Perhaps the traffic enforcer had no children yet so he does not understand. Most of the waiting drivers surely were cussing him.
As the group sipped their black coffee, they were just nodding their heads. A “kagawad” coffee mate whispered that sometimes their job is very challenging.