Filipinos are ending the year — and starting a new one (duh!) — debating over a really big issue: jeepneys. What else, right? The jeepney after all is the quintessential Pinoy cultural icon. Why shouldn’t it be? It’s a perverted version of one of America’s greatest engineering achievements. Owing to their world-renowned Reverse Midas Touch syndrome, trust Filipinos to turn that to shit and make it a symbol of their “beloved” nation.
For most other southeast Asian nations, modern and efficient public transport is a foregone conclusion. To them, it is a public right that trumps any held by private motorists. You see it in how far the Philippines’ former peers in the region have come, turning their once teeming cesspool metropolises into the wonders of mass public mobility today. While other countries hold operators of their public transport facilities to the highest quality and safety standards, Filipinos reserve the most decrepit — most dangerous — of the lot to serve the greater majority of their fellow citizens.
Indeed, the biggest argument the Philippines’ traditional “activists” hang on to in defense of the jeepney infestation is that the drivers of these contraptions are “poor”. These parasites argue that these poor “public servants” cannot afford to install essential equipment in their vehicles that would assure the safety of their passengers and contribute to efforts to improve the air quality of their cities. Filipino “activists” are, in short, lobbying to give “the poor” license to be bad citizens.
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While millions of Filipino commuters suffer on the roads of Metro Manila and many other Philippine cities, “activists” harp about the “livelihoods” of jeepney drivers — as if their collective “plight” is more important than the wellbeing and productivity of the majority. To put things in proper perspective, various sources estimate the the total number of jeepney drivers nationwide at about 200,000. Consider then that the total number of users of public transport in the Philippines exceeds ten million and it becomes easy to see the stupidity in the arguments of these “activists”. Why would they fight for the wellbeing of a community whose numbers are utterly dwarfed by that of parties vastly inconvenienced by this infestation?
Consider too that people who can afford — and therefore opt to use — private vehicles to get about Philippine cities also number in the millions. These are people that “activists” paint as “privileged” but the fact is, private motorists are also victims of the Philippines’ jeepney infestation. They share the road — and the lost time — equally with ordinary Filipino users. All — rich and poor — put up with the bad citizenship jeepney drivers and operators bring to the roads everyday.
Ending the year with a massive “debate” on the continued tolerance of the jeepney infestation proves just how small a country the Philippines is. Despite its enormous population and its accidentally “strategic” role in regional geopolitics Filipinos continue to exhibit their renowned heritage of smallness — a cultural curiosity that continues to hobble what should have been a proud march into the 21st Century.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.