If that proverbial silver lining does exist after all the storms that have lashed at us Pinoys from all sides, natural and man-made, it may be that hope of being able to build a totally new and better life. Better public infrastructure, better facilities, better systems, better governance. The awareness of our geography and its implications – frequent occurrence of natural disasters – has undeniably gone up.
The awareness too of what we as a people have terribly lacked, been pitifully shortchanged of but rightfully deserve to have has started to turn into firm actions – fellows watching over each other’s back by actively sharing information and resources and by being more vigilant.
And the whole world seems to be with us this time. As those countries are pouring their aid on us, they are also training their eagle-sharp eyes on our country, which is all the better for us actually. Now, as what our current President has been trying to do since he took his seat, the task of “overhauling” or ridding our government of corruption and starting that change may finally be easier to do. We, Pinoys, who have been terribly wronged for a long time finally may have something to look forward to.
If we allow ourselves to imagine, it’s going to be incredibly exciting. I know this comes at a great cost, at the expense of those who periled and struggled but I’d like to believe some change is coming, and we can finally allow ourselves to dream a little bit.
The following are what I imagine our country to have and so are what our government has to build.
Most of our airports are very small, old, hot and dirty. I need not say anything more about this. Anybody who has ever used our airports knows this and many has been written about this already. Bohol will soon have another airport built and the invitation to bid for it has already been issued. It’s going to be under the assistance of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency). This is good news for the Boholanos! And I hope more similar airports are going to be built all over our country.
Wide, well-paved roads
Imagine a road system similar to that in Dubai or Hong Kong. Wide, lined with trees and other greenery and with enough side-roads for the pedestrians or bicyclers. And more roads even in the most inland of places in our countryside of course.
Skyways and subways
It is a fact that as more and more Filipinos are able to afford a car, our narrow streets have become very congested. It would be great to have more skyways and subways. Maybe we can also add for good measure more footbridges.
The trains in Hong Kong are extra reliable, always on the dot so that people can actually always quote which train to take, say the 10:15 train to Central or the 11:50 train to Causeway Bay? People talk like that about their trains. Unlike the trains here, their trains have a strict schedule almost as though they’re run too by a utilitarian boss. Also they are clean. Also their train stations are air-conditioned. Also they don’t have to queue up for long precious minutes for their train cards ( there are enough machines for that). Also, of course, no overcrowding to the roof.
Better public transportation terminals
Our eyes have been opened up to the wonders in our own country places. A big bulk of our travelers are local tourists, helping in keeping our local economy and culture alive. The local tourists too deserve a more comfortable bus terminal or pier to wait in.
Better waste and sewerage system
In Hong Kong and Dubai, almost every few meters or so, you will find a trash bin. Every block or so, you will find a trash chute that has different compartments for biodegradable, non-biodegradable, and recyclable trash. Maybe we can have that too. In my own personal opinion, I think one of the reasons our streets are littered with trash is the lack of trash bins. Let’s say I have eaten a burger on the street while waiting for a bus and I want to throw the burger wrapper properly of course, but there’s no bin for it, what should I do? When I have a candy or chocolate wrapper, what I do is actually put it in my bag or pockets and I shoot it into the trash bin at home. But obviously not everybody wants to carry around trash in their bag or pockets. So, I think we need more trash bins on our streets.
Sturdy wave buffers
The coastal areas need these. While they cannot totally save people from ocean surges like that brought by Yolanda, it can buy people more time to move to safer places.
According to some farmers in my hometown, the weather now is just a bit too unpredictable when it used to be more “regular.” Whereas before they could have two plantings of rice a year, now they already count themselves lucky if their one planting is not disrupted by unexpected rain, typhoon or drought. They also bemoan the fact that just when their palay is already in that goldening stage, their fields become parched dry and the dams just could not cope. One even went straight to the irrigation office and was forced to utter threats in deep frustration. It’s their rice, and look, after all the hard work they won’t have anything to harvest! Quick! Do something! Do something to your goddamn irrigation system and let water flow to my rice field now! The rice farmer joked about the outburst afterwards but then everybody knew it was not a joking matter.
Again in my hometown and most probably in some other places as well, some schools have to divide their classes into morning and afternoon classes. The morning students have to set off really early while the afternoon students have to come back home past the usual dinner time already. The number of students has increased and the schools are just not catching up with their classrooms.
I’m sorry that I will have to keep citing Hong Kong as an example of a place with a good infrastructure and overall public systems. I was so taken by Hong Kong’s public libraries, and they have many. They are well-stocked not only with books but also with the latest issues of major periodicals including Newsweek and Times. Internet access is absolutely free. Near tables are electric outlets so that people can just plug their laptops and other gadgets in and do their own thing there in the library. They can stay the whole day there. I always did when I was there. They can borrow books online and even DVD’s. I was always amazed by it and felt so sorry for myself and my countrymen. Even Macau has that library system and when I was there, I always didn’t have to spend anything on internet or books. We just don’t have that and it’s just a bit sad.
Am I wishing for too much? Maybe I am, but come on, maybe you’re wishing for even more things than I am!