POSTSCRIPT / May 23, 1999 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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When a car accident rips up a boy’s heart

LISTEN to this gem of a story that we have rewritten a little from its Internet original. You might want to share it, in turn, with your friends:

I hurried into the mall to grab some last-minute gifts for the holidays. I looked at the milling shoppers and grumbled to myself “I’d be in here forever, and I just had so much to do.” But I hurried the best I could through the thick crowd to the toy department.

Once again I kind of mumbled to myself at the prices of those toys, and wondered if the grandkids would even play with them. I found myself in the doll aisle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a little boy of about five holding a lovely doll.

He kept touching her hair and held her so gently. I could not help looking over at the boy and wondered for whom the doll was. He turned to a woman, called her by name (she was an aunt) and said, “You sure I don’t have enough money?”

She replied a bit impatiently, “You know that you don’t have enough money for it.” The aunt told the boy not to go anywhere as she had to go get some other things and would be back in a few minutes. Then she left the aisle.

The boy continued to hold the doll. Going closer to him, I asked for whom the doll was.

“It’s the doll my sister wanted so badly for Christmas,” he smiled. “She just knew that Santa would bring it.”

I told him that maybe Santa was going to bring it.

“No, Santa can’t go where my sister is,” he said. “I have to give the doll to my Mama to take to her.”

I asked where his sister was. Looking at me with the saddest eyes, he said, “She has gone to be with Jesus. My Daddy says that Mama is going to have to go be with her.”

My heart nearly stopped beating. The boy looked at me again and said, “I told my Daddy to tell Mama not to go yet. I told him to tell her to wait till I got back from the store.”

Then he asked me if I wanted to see his picture. I told him I would love to. He pulled out some pictures he’d had taken at the mall lobby.

“I want my Mama to take this with her so she doesn’t ever forget me,” he explained. “I love my Mama so very much, and I wish she didn’t have to leave me. But Daddy says she will need to be with my little sister.”

The boy had lowered his head and grown very quiet. While he was not looking, I reached into my purse and took out some bills.

I suggested, “Shall we count that money one more time?”

He grew excited and said, “Yes, I just know it has to be enough!”

So I slipped my money in with his, and we began to count it. Of course it was plenty for the doll.

He murmured as if in prayer, “Thank you, Jesus, for giving me enough money.”

Turning to me, the boy explained, “I just asked Jesus to give me enough money to buy this doll so Mama can take it with her to give to my sister. And he heard my prayer!”

“I wanted to ask him for enough money to buy my Mama a white rose,” he went on. “I didn’t ask him, but he gave me enough to buy the doll and a rose for my Mama! You know, she loves white roses so very, very much.”

In a few minutes the aunt came back and I wheeled my cart away.

I could not keep from thinking about the little boy as I finished my shopping in a totally different spirit than when I had started.

And I kept remembering a story I had seen in the newspaper several days earlier about a drunk driver hitting a car and killing a little girl and leaving the mother in serious condition. The story said the family was deciding whether or not to remove the life support.

Now surely this boy did not belong to that story, I thought.

Two days later, I read that the family had disconnected the life support and the young woman had slipped to death. The face of the boy just kept haunting me, and I kept wondering if there was any connection to the news item.

Later that day, I could not help myself and I went out to buy some white roses and took them to the funeral home where the young woman was.

And there she was, holding a lovely white rose, the beautiful doll, and the picture of the little boy in the store.

I left in tears, my life changed forever. The love that boy had for his little sister and his mother was overwhelming. In a split second, a drunk driver had ripped the life of that little boy to pieces.

* * *

IF you want to pass on this story to your friends via the Internet, you can send me your email address, so I can send you the text. You can then just forward the story to them without having to type it out.

* * *

WE are amazed at the letters and the complaints coming in about how tires on otherwise normal vehicles just explode, their sidewalls ripped, with no apparent reason.

Chief of staff Jose A. D. Bautista of Rep. Oscar Rodriguez of Pampanga wrote us a letter saying:

“We were alarmed to find out in your recent columns that we were not the only ones to suffer a first-hand experience of the Bridgestone tire blow out.

“Last Monday, congressman Rodriguez together with the mayor of San Fernando suffered the same mishap along the North (Luzon) Expressway. It therefore gives us cause for worry as to how many vehicles using defective tires are liable to go out of control on account of a tire blow out.

“We are poised to file a congressional resolution seeking a investigation of what seems to be a proliferation of such defective tires.”

* * *

ANOTHER congressman, Rep. Enrique Garcia of Bataan, told of the experience of his son days ago in Mariveles when one of the Bridgestone Desert Dueler tires of his Toyota Land Cruiser exploded for no apparent reason. The ripped part was also the sidewall.

After the Kapihan at the Sulo hotel in Quezon City, columnist Mentong Laurel talked of how the Bridgestone tires on his two vehicles, a Nissan van and a Mitsubishi Galant, on separate occasions last week suffered similar blowouts. The van was cruising at normal speed on the Gapan-Olongapo road, while the Galant was in Silang, Cavite, when the tire’s sidewall burst.

Internal revenue official Jun Libardo complained that one of his Bridgestone tires bought recently suddenly developed lumps (tiremen call them “lobo” or “oblong”) and had to be replaced prematurely.

* * *

READER Chito C. Amora writes in connection with our Postscript that mentioned the Nissan Terrano of Edmundo F. Kaimo whose three Bridgestone Desert Dueler tires blew up at the sidewall one after the other just like that:

“In July 1997, we also purchased a Terrano from Core Automotive Resources Inc. After one year, the ply of two Desert Dueler tires of the van were so damaged that the steel belting wire was exposed. We noticed only one tire at first, so we complained to Core and we were advised to send the tire to Philippine Allied Enterprises Corp.

“They gave us a new tire at a discounted price. After a couple of weeks, we noticed another tire with the steel belt exposed, so we sent it again to Philippine Allied Enterprises, but this time they had no stock of the same brand so we bought it to Triple J Tire Supply in Tondo”

* * *

STILL smarting from the mishandling of his case, Kaimo himself sent an email again which said in part:

“I’ll stand by every word I said, in any forum, at any place. I feel I’ve been treated unfairly, and what was most hurting is not only that both (Nissan Quezon Avenue) branch and (Nissan president Hitoshi) Imamura himself never bothered to reply to my complaint. Arrogance?

“At age 76, I had to pull my car into the middle of the South Tollway, at the risk of being sideswiped, while having to change the tire by my own self (not recommended for a triple by-pass patient). I was blaming myself for having bought a Pl0 m car with a P100 worth of low-quality tires. I will continue to protest and proclaim the injustice of it all.”

The attention of Postscript was first called by a white Terrano with a poster on its back proclaiming that three of its Bridgestone tires blew up. Having had the same experience with my own Bridgestone tires, we wrote on it not knowing who owned the van. It turned out to be Kaimo.

* * *

WE’RE expecting the local distributor of Bridgestone to come up soon with a response to these complaints of users of their products. We will air their side when they give it.

Aside from the legislative inquiry poised in the House, there are Senate hearings on consumer protection being held by the committee on trade headed by Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr.

In its last hearing, the Senate group focused on the quality of windshields of motor vehicles, taking off from the complaint of editor Jullie Daza that the windshield of her Nissan Sentra just shattered and rained on her while she was driving on the North Luzon Expressway.

Magsaysay told us his committee would soon look into complaints on tires and other related products to see what legislation can be introduced for better protection to consumers.

* * *

STILL on complaints on motor vehicles ventilated on Postscript, reader James P. Best emailed some advice on the problem of Ms. Marielou S. Florendo whose six-month-old Nissan Altima is sometimes seized with a strange trembling then conks out. She said the car has been sent to the “casa” 10 times and has been there since March without Nissan being able to diagnose and solve the problem.

Reader Best said: “Ms. Florendo’s car problem could be caused by fuel percolating in the carburetor or in the case of fuel-injected engines in the rosa pump. The car is not used often, which probably allows impurities in the fuel tank to congeal and not pass through the filter system, thus giving a lower than desired fuel pressure at the rosa pump inlet or carburetor.

“Advise a good reliable mechanic to drain about a pint of fuel from the tank and take it to Philippine Airlines or another aircraft maintenance facility with laboratory equipment used to examine engine oil samples and hydraulic oil samples for contamination.

“Even a fuel refiner has this equipment. The car in question seems to be an “extra,” so cost of this work should be negligible (to the owner).

“Thanks for your time, and keep up your writing in the STAR. It begins my day with a bang!”

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 23, 1999)

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