HOSPITALITY — AND COMPASSION #APEC2015


Hospitality and compassion — they’re not mutually exclusive values. At least, they shouldn’t be.

This is about the working public of Metro Manila, both those with cars and the millions who take public transportation. In 2014, the National Statistics Office said 4.7 million worked in Metro Manila.

Social media has been full of posts from commuters — those with smart phones — stranded in monstrous traffic jams.

Most of the commuters are people who need to work. Maybe a few have job descriptions that allow them leeway in work hours. Majority, however, will have to suffer deductions for being late. Some, who had to turn back, will lose a whole day’s work.

A friend who lives in Laguna left her home 5 am. By eight, she was nowhere near Manila. Because she rides a bus to work, she had to get down and walk a long, long stretch back south, until she — and thousands others — could get a ride back home.

A commuter assists a woman with a baby in her arms as they decide to turn back because of the monstrous traffic on the coastal highway. Photo by Michelle Estor
A commuter assists a woman with a baby in her arms as they decide to turn back because of the monstrous traffic on the coastal highway. Photo by Michelle Estor

Lawyer Michelle Estor used up 2.5 hours on a 10-km stretch before deciding to turn back. She snapped a photo of this woman with a child, being assisted by a fellow commuter, on the way back to wherever they came from. Estor also shared a video of a long stream of commuters giving up on the day.

On Twitter, she posted:

10kms & 2.5hrs later, I turned back. Picked up 2 seniors & a companion on the highway. You should, too, under similarly safe circumstances.

Many roads looked like scenes from a movie with a huge cast of extras fleeing whatever it is that hounds them.

Commuters walking along the Coastal Rd. Photo courtesy of Ellen Tordesillas.
Commuters walking along the Coastal Rd. Photo courtesy of Ellen Tordesillas.

Journalist Ellen Tordesillas shared this photo and wrote:

I left Las Pinas 7 a.m for the APEC International Media Center in World Trace center. I had planned to go to Midas Hotel on Roxas Blvd, one of the pick up points for shuttle buses to IMC. Before the toll gate, traffic stopped moving.After more than one hour, our bus, like many other vehicles, decided to go back to Las Pinas. Those who wanted to proceed had to walk. At Kabihasnan, we got a little help from tricycles who ferried passengers up to MIA Rd in Baclaran for P10 each.

We made it to Baclaran at past 10 a.m. Instead of Midas Hotel, I went to Red Planet in Aseana, another pick up point of shuttle buses to IMC.

We made it to Baclaran at past 10 a.m. Instead of Midas Hotel, I went to Red Planet in Aseana, another pick up point of shuttle buses to IMC.

Pwedeng pa lang lakarin ang buong haba ng Coastal Rd sa gitna ng mainit na araw. Kung walang APEC, hindi ko malalaman yan. Kaya may pakinabang din ang APEC.

Another thing, alam ko na kung saan ang Red Planet Hotel. Salamat din sa APEC.

People got out of their cars while stranded on the Skyway (where they have to pay more than a hundred pesos for the privilege of hyperventilating).

Stranded commuters on the Skyway get down from their cars. Photos courtesy of Jhon Cabanlong
Stranded commuters on the Skyway get down from their cars. Photos courtesy of Jhon Cabanlong

Chief Supt Wilben Mayor of the Philippine National Police (PNP) apologised for the traffic. Truth is, the PNP can’t really be blamed for it. They’re implementing orders of our top national officials.

He said the info drive on re-routing schemes was “intensive.” But socmed posts say even in those areas, traffic was hell. Denggai Silorio said many people in Makati were walking.

Besides, how  to get to Metro Manila was the most basic problem.

Then Mayor said this: ABS-CBN News Channel  @ANCALERTS

Mayor: We are expecting heavy traffic. This is why we are advising the public to stay in provinces during #APEC2015 week.

On TVPatrol, Jorge Carino showed an Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) official asking people not to go to Makati if they had no important business. Dude, WORK IS IMPORTANT BUSINESS, unless you’re a trust fund baby.

That is exactly the problem. The government only declared the 18th and 19th as holidays. Only classes and public sector work are suspended on the 17th. READ Calendar of APEC holidays.

If Mayor will shoulder the pay for man-hours lost, am sure everyone will take up his offer.

Only the rich can afford to ignore work and the lost income and head for the provinces or abroad. Majority of Filipinos who work in Metro Manila have to work — unless given holidays by the government. No work, no pay. No pay, nothing for the family to eat.

President Benigno Aquino III and his Cabinet should have thought of that.

What is hospitality if you can’t muster compassion for your own?

By midnight, stranded netizens were still at it. Some had left their offices early. By the morrow, an even worse situation faces them as APEC leaders start coming in. More diversions have been announced and vehicles will be forced out of the South Luzon Expressway as it enters the Makati financial district. READ: Why you should avoid EDSA, SLEx Tuesday 

Filipinos have the perfect phrase for that: “Pakitang tao.” Pretend everything is fine while ignoring the mess you’ve covered with that red carpet.

Strong winds dislodged the APEC welcome arch at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. If fell on a police car, but nobody was hurt. APEC welcome arch sa Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex dahil umano sa malakas na ihip ng hangin. Natumbahan ang isang police car pero walang naiulat na nasaktan sa insidente. BMPM photo by Bayan Patroller Alfredo Mamaril III
Strong winds dislodged the APEC welcome arch at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. If fell on a police car, but nobody was hurt. APEC welcome arch sa Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex dahil umano sa malakas na ihip ng hangin. Natumbahan ang isang police car pero walang naiulat na nasaktan sa insidente. BMPM photo by Bayan Patroller Alfredo Mamaril III

That fallen arch is perhaps the best emblem for how many of us feel. Or maybe this late night video of tired, frustrated motorists venting their anger.

Of course, Mr. Aquino’s biggest fans will chide us about complaining.

Someone actually said, to give thanks because no one’s shooting at us. No wonder, social media has resurrected one of the President’s most famous lines — “Buhay ka naman, di ba?” Charge that lost income to hospitality. #30

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