This is about my trip to Medical Center Manila to follow-up my wife's laboratory result for possible radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy once again due to her malignant, follicular carcinoma. That's the more technical term for thyroid cancer which she survived after more than six therapies and more than three surgical operations to remove the affected tissue since 1992.
We even had a child, a bright child at that, who we almost had aborted upon doctor's advice for fear that she may be affected by the radiation therapy. Somehow, with God's grace, our daughter was born apparently free of abnormality. She has been taking college admission tests administered by UP, Ateneo, DLSU, and Mapua Institute of Technology for the past few months because she will be graduating in March from the Philippine Science High School.
Well, this is not about my family but about my challenging trip to the hospital in UN Avenue.
Lost in Monumento
From Balintawak where my brother and his family lives and where I stayed after attending an official meeting as representative of our school, I lost my direction on my way to Monumento to get to the Light Rail Transit. I was unaware that I overshot the junction of Monumento and Taft which is quite familiar to me as I was not paying closely to the places where the jeepney stopped. The low ceiling of the jeepney may also have contributed to my confusion because I could not see landmarks with partly blinded view.
Realizing my mistake, I told the driver to stop. I stepped down cautiously onto the pavement and walked about. I was in a different street than I'm supposed to be (I think it's 5th Street). I saw Bonifacio's monument, more than a kilometer away behind me. I need to go back.
I looked up and saw the overpass bridge which I need to climb and get to the other side to take another jeepney and reach the monument. It was a hot afternoon at 2:20 pm. I walked the length of the bridge with two students in white uniform.
I almost bumped into a vendor, who, despite existing ordinances that vendors should not be selling wares in public places like this, still persists to this day. I thought that gone are the days of MMDA Chairman Bayani where street vendors are shooed away from the streets to make way to traveling public. They even adapted themselves to display carts that they can easily push along the streets and use a their "getaway vehicle" during those sporadic raids of policemen and MMDA personnel. I wonder why enforcement is slack these days. The pirated DVDs are still there.
The Obstacle Course in Monumento
I finally reached the corner of Taft and EDSA after crossing another overpass bridge as I figure out my location. I literally have to snake my way through the maze of parked vehicles along the way plus the vendors hawking their wares to make a living out of their enterprising spirit to survive in the city. Their activity, however, impinges on commuter convenience as they block strategic places like the corners of stairs where train passengers pass in a throng. I wonder why fellow commuters help them block the way by patronizing the fruit stands, cellphone displays, toy stands, among other sorts of things you can see while you walk the streets towards the LRT station.
I need to be extra careful and alert because vacant spaces where I literally squeeze my way in are "stumps" of defunct sign boards where you can see a pipe projecting out of a block of concrete. And there are elevations and cracked cement where your foot might get entangled and cause you to fall headlong.
How can senior citizens survive these streets? Indeed, I saw very few old people walk along the streets, and if they do, somebody is there to take their hand. Most of the people I see are young professionals, students, and blue-collar workers who, apparently, are fit to take the challenge of the almost never-ending maze of challenging obstacles along the way.
I saw policemen at the corner of Taft and EDSA, all in uniform and with parked cars to deter criminals. But it seems they are oblivious and turn a blind eye to the violators they see as commuters disregard the traffic lights and vendors sell various sorts of products virtually everywhere. I even saw a policeman pick up a small pack of Mentos from the display of candies of an old woman in her 60s. She obliged and even smiled sweetly at the action. I didn't see the policeman pay the vendor for what he got. Or is he a "suki"? Is this the reason why the vendors stay in any place they want along the streets?
At the LRT Station in Monumento
My adventure is quite rich in events. Upon arriving at the LRT station in Monumento, I lined up behind the yellow line, just behind another man in his late 50s or so with a styrofoam box parked at his left side.
All apparently went well and I breathed a sigh of relief as somehow I could see a sign of discipline. But this did not last long because another man, about in his 30s or 40s lined up by our side, in line with the first man and outside of the yellow line. He is oriented diagonally towards the place where the door of the LRT train will open. I guessed what's in his mind. He wants to get ahead of us while he came late and I feel a little bit irritated.
I watched the dilapidated, sometimes missing letters in the destination signs as I figured out what the train operator is muttering over the public address system lest I miss my destination. The words were not pronounced clearly as they should but somehow I managed to understand his caution "Mag-ingat sa mandurukot" [Beware of thieves].
I arrived at UN Avenue at least in one piece and without losing any of my valuables.
There's another challenge when I got back to Monumento but all I've had enough of all these things for the day and arrived at a series of questions which I hope could be answered by people who had a similar experience as mine.
Who are to blame for this scenario?
- Is it the government which instituted laws and regulations for its people to follow thus achieve order?
- Is it the policemen or law enforcers who were themselves frustrated by criminals that they arrest and who get liberated anyway because of a padrino?
- Is it the teachers who have not taught the children their manners well?
- Is it the common Pinoy himself who is pathetic and unmindful of his countrymen?
- Is it the local politicians who were elected by their constituents to represent their interests and who could not refuse appeals for their clemency or favor on many things in return for votes?
- Is it the rich businessmen who have dominated the market place and displaced small entrepreneurs?
- Is it each one of us, wherever and whoever we are, who have not taken steps to improve the plight of our fellow Filipinos?
I say EACH ONE is accountable and responsible for all of these. Let's make a POSITIVE CHANGE today and realize our potential and worth as a TRUE FILIPINO, in heart, mind and deed.
I yelled angrily at the tri-sikad driver for blocking the pedestrian lane while I cross the street towards Manila Medical Center. Two of them stopped right there smack in the middle of the pedestrian lane blocking the way of the rushing pedestrians. I could not contain myself but know I might be at risk.
Thanks for the opportunity to write my mind here. I write for awareness and I share my knowledge and skills online to make life better for everyone. I wrote about my confusion to tip or not to tip taxi drivers in Triond to warn commuters of things they may encounter while boarding a taxi. The lesson: be choosy in flagging down a taxi. A friend advised it should be an R&E taxi or an MGE or a taxi with white and green color.
Mabuhay ang Pilipino, ikaw, ako, tayong lahat sa Filipino Diaspora.
I have posted articles in Triond, of course, and many other sites including Knoji, Hubpages, Ezinearticles, Articlesbase, Wikinut, ExpertsColumn, Xanga, Livejournal, Bukisa, TheInfomine, Snipsly, among others. Of course, I write in my personal website - Palawaniana.net.
I write because I love to write.