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Our struggle is not a spectacle

By Denver del Rosario

I was supposed to be in San Juan for work at around 2 pm. I left my house at noon like I always do because, oftentimes, that two-hour allowance is enough. But with the infernal Metro Manila traffic, expect the worst to happen.

I checked my phone. 3:57 pm. And I was still in Kamuning, far from where I was supposed to be. In an act of surrender, I told my editor a minute after that I won’t be pushing through with my coverage today. What should have been moments of productivity became time wasted on the road. I got off the bus, but then came a heavy downpour. I spent an hour in a fastfood restaurant to wait for the skies to clear and then I went out to wait for a ride home.

But then it was past five, and many people were trying to go home. To see buses jampacked with passengers was both frustrating and discouraging: frustrating because we don’t deserve this; discouraging because I wasn’t sure if I could get on a bus in this area with many people also waiting. So I chose to do the 40-minute walk to Philcoa. From there, I finally found a jeepney ride home.

This is the harsh reality many of us face where workers and students have no choice but to wake up a bit earlier in order to avoid the morning rush, only to find themselves still waiting for hours. Some say that the metro traffic is the great equalizer, but I call this bull—-. To say that is to be devoid of class analysis.

When the powerful and the influential romanticize the plight of the ordinary people by telling us that our daily sacrifice is the very definition of Filipino resilience and perseverance I don’t smile in gratitude, I rage. For our struggle is not a story of inspiration, but rather of gross neglect and plain arrogance, one where the grievances of the citizenry are easily ignored by those who should be listening and taking action.

Standing in the middle of an overcrowded bus while passengers still try to shove their way in is not a metaphor, so are burning railroads and dysfunctional trains. This is the reality of the masses, a never-ending cycle of waking up early and going home late while losing hope in the process. With these difficult circumstances, we have fallen into compromise; we don’t care anymore about safety and inconvenience, if the vehicle is too cramped, if the aircon is not working, because we all just want to go home.

It isn’t surprising to know that this denial of a mass transport crisis by the administration has earned the ire of the citizenry. Recently we learned about goverment officials telling us to be more “creative” when commuting, or that Superman is the only one who can save the day. When people shrug off their statements as comical relief instead of recognizing its plain insensitivity, this only manifests how much hypocrisy and incompetence we are willing to tolerate as a society just because we keep hoping change will happen. This is them not doing their mandate, and us willingly accepting that.

What government officials say is a reflection of the principles they hold in shaping public policy. For example, do we really expect a leader who catcalls female journalists and jokes about rape to strengthen laws regarding sexual harassment? Or an elected official who steals agricultural lands for profit to genuinely advocate for farmers? Go figure.

To the rich and the powerful, to hell with you and your uncalled-for sense of superiority. Your oppressing kind has the gall to tell us to hang in there as you look outside from your comfortable seats? Please. Our struggle is not a spectacle. 𝘞𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘱𝘢𝘨𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘺𝘢𝘴𝘢𝘵, 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘬𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘴𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘢. We don’t need your condescension; we need you to wake the hell up.

And to us who keep enduring hell, we have no other option but to carry on. We wake up early and go home late for we have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and dreams to fulfill. As we brave the metro traffic again, may we always remind ourselves that we should never settle for less, because we deserve more. But as we all know by now, we don’t wait for the world to change. We take action, rage on. #

(The author is a sports journalist. He has contributed stories to Kodao since his student days.)

‘There IS a mass transport crisis and that long term solutions are needed’

“Congratulations Sec. Panelo for arriving in one piece in Malacanang after nearly 4 hours of commute! Medyo late na kayo kung government time yan na 8am. Just the same, we hope this whole experience underscored the fact that there IS a mass transport crisis and that long term solutions are needed.”–BAYAN secretary general Renato Reyes Jr.

‘PUV phaseout, para lamang sa malalaking negosyante’

Aabot sa 95 porsyento ang pagtigil ng pasada sa malawak na lugar ng Kamaynilaan noong Lunes, Setyembre 30, ayon sa PISTON. Ito ay bukod pa sa ilang mga probinsiya na lumahok din sa proteste laban sa phase out ng public utility vehicles sa buong bansa.

Ayon sa mga tsuper, tatanggalin ang kanilang indibidwal na prangkisa sa dyip, UV express at tricycle na siya namang sakayan ng mayorya ng mahihirap na Pilipino. Ang mga prangkisa naman ay iko-konsentra sa malalaking negosyante na magpapanggap na mga kooperatiba. Magdudulot ng malawakang pagkawala ng kanilang hanapbuhay ang dulot ng iskemang ito, anila. (Bidyo ni Jek Alcaraz/Kodao)

Kodao Klasik: Ruta ni Ka Roda (2006)

Sundan ang pakikipagsapalaran ni Medardo “Ka Roda” Roda sa Maynila, kung saan siya unang humawak ng manibela. Ginalugad niya ng ilang dekada ang mga daan ng syudad at nagamay ang mga suliranin ng tsuper.

At nang makilala ni Ka Roda ang Piston o Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide, nagkaroon siya ng bukod-tanging kahalagahan sa laban ng mga tsuper at sambayanang Pilipino.

  • Script/Direction/Editing: Risa Jopson
  • Cinematography: Ariel Saturay/Ron Papag/Risa Jopson/Asia Visions
  • Artistic Directors: Nes Jacinto/Raymund Villanueva

I spent PHP100,000 on Grab in one year

By JOSE LORENZO LIM

One thing we can all agree on is that the country’s mass transportation is a nightmare. The MRT constantly breaks down. Buses are overcrowded. Taxis take longer routes for you to pay more. It’s a dismay. Thus, ride hailing apps such as Grab were marketed as an alternative to our dismal mass transportation system.

I was lucky enough that my grandmother supported my voluntary work at IBON by offering to provide me with a car instead of taking a jeepney to work. I decided that maintaining a car and fuel costs would be more expensive than just commuting. During my first weeks at IBON, I was taking four connecting jeepney rides just to get to work and another four to get back home. It was grueling. One exhausting day after work, I decided to just take Grab home regardless of the cost. This initial ride was followed by more rides.

Grab was convenient. I used the app when going to the office and coming back home every day. But this convenience came at a price. A huge price. My rides were anywhere between Php200-350. But when Grab’s absurd surge system hits Timog, it can go as high as Php650. Coupled with the rising cost of oil in October last year plus the fuel excise from TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law), it was the perfect storm to reach a whopping Php98,246 by booking Grab rides every day. My grandmother decided to just give me an allowance for my rising Grab expenses.  But it ended up being more expensive than if she had bought me a car.

Let’s be clear, Grab will never be a solution to our disgusting mass transportation system. While it did provide me with an alternative to taking a bus, jeep or even the MRT, what Grab essentially did was profit from disgruntled commuters at the cost of adding more vehicles to our already crowded roads It further pushed the corporatization and monopoly of a public service.

Let’s not forget that mass transportation is a public service.

And it seems that the government, who should fix our transportation system, is not bent on fixing it.  Government is saying that Build, Build, Build would provide more roads and trains or even a subway. But if you just build infrastructure without planning how these would come together with existing modes of transportation, then it doesn’t make sense. A sustainable mass transportation system should be efficient, reliable, accessible, safe, and environmentally sound.

If government won’t fix the mass transportation system then all the funding goes to big-ticket, big-business infrastructure to build roads. These are not for public vehicles but to accommodate even more private vehicles, which studies say already occupy 70% of Metro Manila traffic.

Government should craft a comprehensive national mass transportation plan in accordance with economic development plans. Or else, the pathetic cycle of building more infrastructure favoring private motorists over a huge pedestrian population will just continue. ###

Bird Feed features the thoughts and views of our staff on socioeconomic and other issues. All staff are encouraged to share their own analysis.

JOSE LORENZO LIM: Researcher at IBON Foundation. His research topics include Build, Build, Build, the oil industry, and social services. Prior to IBON, he served as Editor-in-Chief of the UPLB Perspective for the academic year 2016-2017. When not in the office, Jose Lorenzo enjoys writing with his fountain pens and trying out new ink.

Ruta ni Ka Roda

On the eighth death anniversary of Medardo Roda of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide (PISTON), we are re-posting this Kodao-produced video documentary of the legendary transport leader.

Ruta ni Ka Roda (Roda’s Route) is a 14-minute documentary about the life of Filipino transport leader Medardo Roda, popularly known as Ka Roda.

He was the longtime chair of the transport group Piston. He gave face to transport workers and fought alongside them for the longest time.

(Kodao Productions/2006 * Script/Direction/Editing: Risa Jopson * Cinematography: Ariel Saturay/Ron Papag/Risa Jopson/Asia Visions * Artistic Directors: Nes Jacinto+/Raymund Villanueva)