“Street-wondering”


Last week, I got my driver’s license renewed. It lapsed actually. For several days I was not able to man the wheels. I refused to drive with license expired. I had a sense then that if you drive illegally you are actually inviting misfortunes. “Takaw disgrasya”. Hence, when I got renewed it was also a renewed confidence in me to hit every road and highway.

Driving, one could be amazed at the thoughts and lessons courtesy of streets, roadsigns and the people you see along the way and on the byways. They speak about the very life and culture of the locale.

Thus far, the following are lessons and reflections as you drive or walk along our city. This is a reality that other cities share as well, I would guess.

– Foresight & Poor Sight: That SM is yet to open several months from now and we already have traffic lights installed in two corners is what you call foresight. That the new public airport has been in operation for several months already and not even a shadow of a post for traffic lights in that already busy intersection is what you call “poor sight”. One could not help but to wonder as to what criteria were used to determine which one is priority over another. Can a shopping mall take priority over a government establishment that serves all people?

– “Seen-zoning”: No doubt, there is no stoping to the rapid urbanization of our city. Tourism has put us in the proverbial situation of “living inside the aquarium” before the international prying eyes. Yet, how are we being “seen” in terms of our zoning? We see industrial structures mushrooming, but in the places where people reside as well. We see legally permitted gambling spots, but located as well near where our precious young pupils pass by. We also see some agricultural lands turning into commercial ones. We wonder if these activities are also compatible with maintaining our character as nature at its best island and the friendliest at that. We wonder how and when will the genius of urban planner Palafox, who has been hired by the local government, become a reality.

-“Heroic”: Exaggeratedly, I could also be lost driving in the streets of our very own city. No thanks to our streets being renamed and renamed all over again. Streets are named to immortalize and to inspire future generations on the heroism of certain individuals. At times, some streets are renamed when the individual’s name proved to be controversial by being “dishonorable”. Hence, his name is eliminated in the street. But where have our heroes gone now? Abad Santos has ceased to exist. Pres. Roxas is a forgone now. Bonifacio is already forgotten. Have they become dishonorable through time? We do honor contemporary greatness of individuals but this must not be at the expense of earlier heroes. There are a lot of streets still un-named: Sampaloc, Santol, Acacia, Dahlia, etc. Places and parks un-named too. As they say, why fix when it ain’t broken? And how about this name – Maria Cristina, the daughter of Queen Isabel. After all the city was named after this lovely “princesa”. We also wonder at the wisdom behind legislation of renaming streets and other establishments at that. Your guess could be good as mine.

Lastly, the next big thing is flooding. A sewerage system must really be on the way. Need we say more when everyone’s safety is at stake?

Foresight, order (zoning, that is), inspiration from heroes, premium for safety, … these are some of the significant marks that emerging modern cities could boast of. They certainly make a city truly urbanized, more livable and friendliest. In fact, they could exude the very soul of what a city should be.

We can still add to a lot of wonderings. One can gladly contribute his own lessons and reflections if only to make our city not just beautiful but also truly wonderful. That saying, our city has taught us that driving could also be a way of learning. And our streets could also be our own schools. Our roads are our teachers. Hence, teach well we must.

Safe driving. Happy wondering.

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