That exact moment you feel the change in your heart beat, signal the possibility of an impending doom. There I was on the driver seat of my aging rig, wipers and headlights on, just came from the northern highlands on a stormy day, with my wife and kids. The kids were still young and small then. Unusual that slow traffic started on this national highway. The cops were there advising the drivers of cars and other low clearance vehicles to pull over and stop. Buses, trucks and me, they waved through.
That is when the thought hit me. Up ahead, a river overflowed its banks to the highway and rendered it impassable to small vehicles. I could hear my wife saying, “can we cross that?” I nodded, yes, we can, it’s an LC for God’s sake. We have been through similar water crossings before. Shifted it to four-low, then pressed on. But reality is, this aging unmodified rig now with the raging floodwater already reaching halfway up the doors outside, is now telling me something else…… warning lights were all lit up on the instrument panel (a sign that the alternator stopped doing its job since it is now submerged in water), a sign of impending doom.
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I could feel the water current trying to push over two tons of vehicle off its path, then at the same amount of time we approached the floodwaters, it was over. We made it through, safely. What a relief! Tapped the brakes to dry them and stopped to shift back to two-high. Revved the engine a bit and all the warning lights disappeared, giving me thumbs-up to proceed with the long drive to the south through the storm.
That was more than a decade ago. It’s just one event of the many we have been through with our LC. It is an event that every motorist in the Philippines has gone through (or will go through at some point). Some will fail and will surely cost a lot. That is a fact. It explains one reason for my choice of vehicles. We could have gotten stuck there and would have taken time for vehicle recovery, not to mention the cost and the trouble.
Our LC is still with us, daily-driven, considered as family, albeit with some modifications. Modifications were done carefully to suit our purpose and practicality. The lift was just a result of the replacement suspension system as the old was worn out and sagging. The worn-out tires were replaced after 7 years of use with larger tires. A raised air intake was added for colder air supply to the engine and prevent water ingestion in floods. If my family will be facing similar scenario again, then we will be more assured of a safe passage.
This brings my attention to another completely different train of thought. 4x4s seemingly off-road-ready are on the rise. Just what percentage will be seeing off road duties or even engaging the 4L to get out of a sticky situation is a big question mark in my mind. This considering too the question that, if given the situation, would they even know how to use such equipment? It came to mind over the past few months having been seeing complaints in the internet about these — of SUVs using their trail lights in the streets or that bozo who tried to cross the concrete traffic island and make a u-turn to avoid the traffic jam. There is also that one guy speeding in the flooded street causing pedestrians and motor cycle riders to get soaked. Note to these a-holes: that is not the effing purpose of your “modified SUVs”. You are giving the Philippines’ 4×4 community a bad impression. I do not want to see the government tightening regulation of this niche of a hobby because of your arrogant ways. Huwag kayong mayabang.
Speaking of mayayabang, I just saw on my feed today a post about the guy who was shot dead by a security guard. See what happens with Pinoys who are mayayabang? Granted, the security guard was in the wrong. The guy was practically asking for it, however. He provoked the security guard. Not long after this, the media will again highlight how, even with all the verbal abuse, the security guard should not have shot him. Kesyo, mabait na tao po ‘yan tapos basta na lang binaril, type of statements. E kung hindi ka ba naman mayabang e? Get this, Pinoys now have a new word for yabang, it can also be called angas. How is that for your culturally developed Pinoys?
Well, we still have a few months of the rainy season. For me, it will still be trying to make it from point A to point B in the most practical manner without getting into payabangan with the Pinoys. That goes not only for the flooded roads of the Philippines but also in our lives as citizens of this nation.
Hard hat, coveralls and safety shoes….. that’s my life.