POSTSCRIPT / April 7, 2005 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Fernando Fink: Official color of Metro Manila?

IDIOT IN A HURRY: We will start believing in the promise of the Arroyo administration to treat everybody fairly and to move this nation forward only when our streets are made even playing fields.

Everyday, we would suddenly catch in our rear view mirror the flashing red lights of motorcycle cops and security escorts clearing the road for another Idiot forcing his way through the hardly moving traffic on Epifanio delos Santos Ave.

The Idiot hiding behind heavily tinted windows is not identified. His vehicle plate number gives no hint of who he is and what status he has in life that gives him priority privilege over the rest of us taxpayers.

If the Idiot has an appointment somewhere or if he has to meet his girl friend in three minutes, he should have the sense to start out earlier so he does not disturb those of us who are patiently crawling through traffic.

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STOP THE LUNACY: If the Philippine National Police commanders cannot stop their motorcycle officers from escorting Idiots, it is time the President no less, the commander-in-chief, stamped her foot and ordered this lunacy to stop.

Check the driver’s license of the nut behind the wheel and you will see that his license is exactly like our regular licenses. In fact, I will not be surprised if he has no license at all.

If he carries the same license, and if he is driving a vehicle whose registration papers are similar to ours, what gives him and his Idiot-boss priority right on the road?

The infuriating thing is that the driver, his master and their escorts are all being paid from taxes extorted from us low-salaried workers. Most likely we even purchased that vehicle for him and are paying for his oil, gasoline, insurance and other expenses.

If the President cannot stop this abuse, plus the other widespread practice of government vehicles being used for non-official purposes and outside office hours, she has no business pretending to run this country.

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PINK RAILING: It is not really a cataclysmic collision of Herculean forces, but the dispute between the San Juan mayor and the Metro Manila Development Authority boss over the latter’s pink railings stretched in the middle of EDSA is worth watching.

Mayor J. V. Ejercito of San Juan has asked MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando to dismantle the railing at least in that portion of EDSA running through San Juan. The wire railing was installed to keep vehicles and pedestrians in their proper lanes.

Ejercito, one of the more talented children of former President Erap Estrada, said that if the MMDA cannot or will not remove it by yesterday, his own engineering personnel will dismantle the railing and charge the expense to the MMDA.

Complaining San Juan residents, especially those whose businesses suffered because of the fencing, have been nagging Ejercito about Fernando’s obstacle course. Other EDSA users have similar complaints about inconvenience, undue obstruction and a drop in business.

The San Juan area most affected is Greenhills, a shopping area whose consumer traffic dropped when the railing went up. Other establishments, including gasoline stations along EDSA, have complained that their usual customers have had to bypass them.

A daily user of EDSA, I have seen this diversion of business traffic. It is true.

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WHO’S RIGHT?: Who between Ejercito and Fernando would “win” the battle? I guess what will happen is for the MMDA to modify the design and placement of the railing so as to pose the least obstruction to legitimate business.

The trouble is actually traced to unruly drivers, especially those of buses, who have made EDSA one of the most dangerous places for motorists and pedestrians in the Philippines. Again, I can attest to this.

I imagine that Fernando, faced with a setback every time he tried to crack the whip on wayward buses, put up the railing in desperation. The idea must have been that if the drivers refused to keep to their lanes, he would force them to their proper places by physically preventing them from swerving.

In other words, the bus drivers, who are among those complaining of the railing, brought upon their heads the infamous Fernando’s Fence.

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DEADLY POISON: I have seen a few traffic officers, laboring amid the deadly fumes on EDSA, slamming with wooden clubs the buses that stray from their lanes or whose drivers deliberately crawl and snag traffic as they linger to take more passengers.

In fact, I am waiting for the day when a traffic officer, forced to accept slow death by gas poisoning from smoke-belchers, would flag down an offending bus and fire an armor-piercing bullet through its engine block to end his (and other peoples’) misery.

While Fernando’s Fence, whose pink reminds me of Dunkin Donuts (advt?), looks puny against the buses racing down EDSA in a trail of black poison, we have to concede that it somehow has forced the buses to do some toeing of the line.

At the same time, however, the complaint of Ejercito and others similarly situated should be studied and a compromise solution found.

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WHY PINK?: Before we leave that topic, let this harassed motorist add a few more observations.

The railing’s being installed as one long straight stretch makes sections of it susceptible to easy toppling once one part is hit by a wayward vehicle. It is the old “sampayan” (clothesline) principle again at work.

And again, why the pink color, something like fuchsia, that makes that railing and other things Fernando look feminine?

The steel pedestrian overpasses at selected intersections are another example of this pink phenomenon spreading like German measles.

One theory is that when Fernando was mayor of Marikina, he had a favorite contractor who bought an oversupply of pink paint and is now looking for other projects to use it on. So anything Fernando must be painted pink, the theory goes.

One would think Metro Manila has become an extension of Marikina, where that Fernando Fink was born and nursed on by Mrs. Fernando who ascended to the throne when Bayani the husband had to step aside after having reached his mayoral term limit.

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PAINT SURPLUS: Another theory, far-fetched I would say, is that Fernando is, well, I don’t know how to say it, if I have to say it at all. It is not fair to see as a bit suspect an MMDA chairman obsessed with pink.

Remember the limp-wrist Cebuano mayor who painted city hall pink? Or that gay priest in Laguna who had the old church repainted, also in pink?

Pink is all over Metro Manila. Even the ubiquitous urinals that Fernando put up for two-legged dogs who cannot control their bladders are painted in that now-famous Fernando Fink.

Re those urinals, let me shift to Tagalog so the foreigners among our readers will be spared the foul odor of roadside lingo.

Huwag na pong lagyan yang mga ihian ni Gg. Fernando ng markang “Male Urinal.” Atin-atin na lang po yang kaalaman na ang mga iyan ay ihian. We don’t have to advertise them for the whole tourist world to laugh over.

Marahil mas maganda kung hindi na pink ang ipinintang kulay diyan sa mga “Male Urinal.” Maybe something more drab and masculine is better. Kaya lang, baka drum-drum pa ang natitirang pinturang Fernando Fink ang nakatambak sa Marikina.

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NOW THE U-TURNS: We cannot discuss traffic on EDSA and other thoroughfares in Metro Manila without mentioning Fernando’s ubiquitous U-turns.

Most people do not know, because it usually happens in the wee hours just before dawn, but many motorists on their way home have fallen victims to the concrete slabs that MMDA workers have thrown around those U-turns.

At that ungodly hour, a motorist driving home drowsy or a bit inebriated may not readily see those obstructions. By the time he spots them, he is already just a few feet away and too late to avoid hitting them.

I know this, because I have seen many of these concrete blocks shattered and thrown from their usual ordained place on the road. This means that the night before some vehicle had smashed on them with such impact.

What happened to the vehicle and its occupants? I have not seen media reports on these accidents. It is not hard to imagine that for personal reasons most of the victims, assuming they survived, must have preferred not to complain.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 7, 2005)

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