Friday, March 10, 2006


I was going to Makati yesterday morning and found myself in unusually slow traffic along EDSA. What I thought to be a 45-minute trip doubled into 90.

I only found the reason when I got home later that day. The evening news reported that a sidewalk vendor climbed up the MRT bridge at Guadalupe to bring attention to himself. The power to the train tracks was cut to secure the safety of the vendor as well as the rescue workers who had to go up and get him. He eventually went down and the train resumed operations at 10 am.

It can be safely assumed that the disruption of train services along one of the city’s main avenues had an adverse effect on the train riders, as well as the road-bound car and bus riders. I certainly felt an effect, and so did several upset commuters interviewed on TV, one who narrated how she was stuck at the North Avenue MRT station for hours.

The event did appear in this morning’s newspapers, though as short items deep in the Metro sections1.

Coincidentally, the headlines of both papers included the latest event related to last February’s stampede at the ULTRA2. That event was certainly severe, involving 72 people killed and more injured, one of the country’s largest media conglomerates, as well as the local government authorities.

But are the reported reactions to both events also coincidental? Both involved government authorities, a large corporation, and lives of thousands of ordinary people.

One was resolved without injury or death, though with inconvenience to the commuters passing through EDSA between 7 and 10 am. The other can simply be described as tragic, with debate in the air about what could have been forecasted and planned, what should have been done during, and who’s responsible.

One was relegated to a two column short, with barely any comment. The other served as a supposed symbol of our country’s rotten core, declaimed upon by politicians, churchmen, and civic groups.

Is it that we expect responsible behavior from corporations and government and do not even recognize it when it is displayed in uncommon situations? Should publicly lauded taxi drivers who return wallets be insulted then, since it would seem that honesty is not expected from them?

Or is it that what we choose to see and react to, the media and the ordinary bystander included, is determined only by what we require? Something wrong gives everyone else a chance to proclaim their right.

Something right gives nothing but the sense and inspiration that things can be right. And that does not seem to be what we are looking for.

1. MRT service stops as protester takes case to top, page 17, Philippine Daily Inquirer; Vendor climbs MRT bridge in Guadalupe, page 15, Philippine Star. 9 March 2006

2. NBI recommends criminal raps vs 17 in ULTRA stampede, Philippine Daily Inquirer; Charo, Willie, Eusebio face raps for Ultra stampede, Philippine Star. 9 March 2006