POSTSCRIPT / July 20, 2000 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Obsession of PNCC is money, not service

DO you know that July is Beautiful Women Month? I didn’t, until somebody emailed me about it and asked me to forward some women’s trivia to five other individuals — with the promise, a la chain letter, that something good would happen if I did.

Why to only five others, I thought, why not to all my 371 readers? So here it is.

* * *

THE email rattled off trivia, some of which you may already know but which bears repeating in this month of Beautiful Women. Did you know, for instance, that:

If shop mannequins were real women they’d be too thin to menstruate?

There are 3 billion women who don’t look like super models, and only eight who do.

Marilyn Monroe wore a size 14. (Pardon my ignorance, but what’s a size 14 — fdp)

If Barbie were a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.

One out of every four college-aged women has an eating disorder.

The models in the magazines are airbrushed, not perfect!

A psychological study in 1995 found that three minutes spent looking at a fashion magazine caused 70 percent of women to feel depressed, guilty, and shameful.

Models 20 years ago weighed 8 percent less than the average woman. Today they weigh 23 percent less.

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ON beauty of a woman (according to the email – fdp):

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure she carries, or the way she combs her hair.

The beauty of a woman must be seen from her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.

It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman with passing years only grows.

* * *

AN English professor wrote “Woman without her man is nothing” on the blackboard and told his students to punctuate the sentence correctly.

The men wrote: “Woman, without her man, is nothing.”

The women wrote: “Woman! Without her, man is nothing.”

* * *

THE images of Mother (again, according to the email – fdp):

At age 4 – “My Mommy can do anything!”

At age 8 – “My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!”

At age 12 – “My Mother doesn’t really know quite everything.”

At age 14 – “Naturally, Mother doesn’t know that, either.”

At age 16 – “Mother? She’s hopelessly old-fashioned.”

At age 18 – “That old woman? She’s way out of date!”

At age 25 – “Well, she might know a little bit about it.”

At age 35 – “Before we decide, let’s get Mom’s opinion.”

At age 45 – “Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?”

At age 65 – “Wish I could talk it over with Mom.”

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THERE is no way the Philippine National Construction Corp. can explain its failure to properly maintain the vital North Luzon Expressway. Users do not want excuses. They want a good road, and they are paying good money to get what they want.

What the PNCC should do is stop whining about the weather and just repair the heavily rutted road right away. After midnight, they can deploy repair crews and fix the road while traffic is light, so that it will be back to normal use in the morning.

We don’t mean fielding six trucks with a handful of men with picks and shovels and cans of asphalt. We have in mind an army of workers and equipment along the entire length of the 90-km road working feverishly to complete repairs before dawn.

Letting the repair drag for a week using fewer men and equipment costs as much as doing the same amount of work in three hours with the deployment of more men and equipment.

Compressing the work in one non-stop massive operation will even ensure good weather during the shortened period of repair.

* * *

FROM the time the North expressway was first conceived during President Macapagal’s term, the engineers knew everything about the terrain, the weather and the expected traffic buildup.

There are no surprises. There cannot be any excuses for some typhoon blowing this way, some river overflowing, or shoulders being washed away, some local folk boring a hole through the fence and stealing fixtures.

All conceivable problems should have been considered in the planning, and solutions worked out in advance.

Road users pay good money and they expect to get their money’s worth in terms of efficient, safe, comfortable and trouble-free motoring. As it is, the North tollway is no different from other rutted roads where no toll is collected.

There is no excuse for the state of disrepair of the tollway, or for the failure of the PNCC to keep this supposedly all-weather road always in good condition.

* * *

THE other issue on the refusal of the PNCC to allow new players outside the Big 3 oil companies to put up service stations along the expressway is not as urgent as the daily maintenance of the road.

We frequent users can live with just two service stations on each side of the road (or a total of four), but we certainly cannot tolerate a heavily rutted tollway that wrecks our vehicles, exposes us to accidents, fouls up our schedules and inflicts heavy material damage.

The truth of the matter is that the PNCC is one big failure because (1) it has incompetent managers, and (2) somebody is siphoning away the millions in toll fees collected from us users.

* * *

THE management of the PNCC is apparently more interested in amassing money than in rendering service.

There is a rule that vehicles without tail lights should not be allowed, but there are countless such vehicles in the expressway, posing a serious hazard. Why? Because, any vehicle with at least four wheels is welcome as long as the driver pays the toll.

Trucks carrying superheavy loads are allowed despite their cracking and pulverizing the pavement beyond recognition. Why? Because they pay their way in. (For a measly end-to-end toll of P61, a heavy truck is allowed to destroy a multi-million-peso lane!)

The operator closes its eyes to smoke-belchers and vehicles that are virtually falling apart as they rattle along, thereby posing a hazard. Why are they allowed? Because they pay.

The PNCC is nothing but a money-making venture. Service comes a poor second.

* * *

THAT obsession with making money explains why they cannot consider such a simple suggestion as the making of the North Luzon Expressway into a special Traffic Safety and Discipline Zone (SafDiz with a long “a”).

The Safdiz project calls for the strict enforcement of road rules 24 hours a day – like they do in Camp John Hay and the Subic Free Port. The idea is to condition motorists to drop their mad driving habits upon entering the NLE and automatically switch to disciplined tollway driving.

The SafDiz is feasible because the expressway is a controlled area. It can be replicated in other controlled road networks after it is tested and refined in the North expressway.

The no-nonsense enforcement would help educate motorists not only on road ethics but consequently also on other aspects of citizenship. By adopting the project, he PNCC would be doing a favor not only to itself but also to road-users and the country in general.

* * *

THE SafDiz project can follow the usual 3E stages propagated by the Philippine Motor Association:

  1. Engineering:Fix the expressway and everything else on or near it — including traffic signs, rest areas, lane markings, etc. – to make it user-friendly. It is not fair to enforce the rules if the road itself is not ready.
  2. Education:Enforcers must be beefed up, retrained and properly equipped and motivated. Road users will be educated simultaneously, while enforcers are retraining and the engineering phase is ongoing.
  3. Enforcement:On the target launch date — which should come with a big bang for optimum awareness — the serious business of carrying out the plan begins. The entire length of the expressway will be saturated with enforcers 24 hours every day. But as we’re dealing with Filipinos, we probably can just warn violators during the first week, then really crack down on them after that grace period.

* * *

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Force and the Abu Sayyaf should have realized by now that President Estrada is using their violent ways to rally public support for a war that is draining scarce resources and distracting everybody from the real issues of a faltering regime.

Like Bill Clinton going to war to cover up his misdeeds and shore up his sagging political stock, Erap Estrada has successfully exploited his War of Distraction to recover in the rating polls.

But unlike Clinton who made sure he pushed his war machine a safe distance away from America’s shore, Estrada is dropping bombs and raining destruction on his own people in his own country.

Unfortunately for the Moro secessionists, their violent ways proved to be the convenient justification for Erap’s military adventure in Mindanao.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 20, 2000)

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