The futility of Panelo's Commute Challenge

By: Railon Deniega
December 15, 2019

I spend over forty-five minutes to one hour a day commuting to and from Colegio de San Juan de Letran - Manila for a year, two months and counting. I do not own a car nor my family does, and I have a deep-seated and irrational fear of riding the train, as they say, is the fastest way of transportation but due to its flawed system, I would rather build my flying boat.

Fortunately, one jeepney ride is enough for me to arrive at my destination compared to some of my classmates who would need to ride at least 2-3 vehicles from home to school and vice versa.

However, I am not an exception from millions of Filipinos struggling to commute. I need to wake up as early as 5’ o clock in the morning and leave the house by 6:00 a.m without taking breakfast just to attend my first class at 7:30 a.m. If I am going to ride a jeepney in a populated area then I expect it to be cramped and I am not surprised of this expectation I meet every day.

I would cram to stand beside the traffic post only to get passed by a jeepney full of loads or a crowded bus. I see how many passengers suffer in less seating space. Some of them would just cling on the open door of the jeepney. Oh, what a great war in the morning as if I am a soldier battling for a seat to commute. I do not have any choice but to stand there beside the post and wait for like eternity until a freeload jeepney arrives.

As I write this experience, I recall also the experiences of my classmates who probably have the worst stories than mine as everyone is suffering in a common problem called transportation.

A month ago, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo shut down the idea of transport crisis when he was asked regarding that by saying, "Everybody suffers from that, that is a given, but there is no mass transport paralysis, hence there is no mass transport crisis,” he stated in the same week when fire that hit the LRT 2 line that caused a temporary shut down on its operations at the Santolan, Katipunan and Anonas station.

What an ignorant remark he seemingly spit out of his insensitive mouth. I am one of the millions of Filipinos suffering in what he calls "no mass transport crisis". Yet he would make a show of a ‘one day commute challenge’ as if he has already experienced the years of the worst public transportation system that the Filipino commuters suffered? Perhaps a day of commute for an insensitive man like him is not enough and it will never be enough, given the special treatment he received,  Panelo will never be convinced of the existence of a mass transportation crisis. In short, he has defeated the purpose of the challenge, making it futile.

Transportation is an issue everyone gets as most metropolitan areas have become overly dense to the detriment of existing systems of management. The transportation in our country is not equipped to handle this many people and this much density, making the situation worse and misery to the Filipino people.

The modern world has gone through tremendous changes that have required people to adjust their lives, making them no option but to stick with it to survive. Every morning, Filipino people have to wake up and attend their work in different places in the private and public sectors, given reasons for the government to be alarmed and to act a solution as soon as possible.

To end, I only have a few suggestions for Panelo. Wear our shoes, acknowledge the crisis, and address possible solutions, or wear your pride, be eaten up by your ignorance and get yourself recognized as blind to the sufferings of millions of Filipinos in transportation woes.

Go and prepare your monument with splashes of tomatoes and banana peel that an ignorant like you may be deserved. Commute challenge is futile if you did not learn of a crisis that burdens Filipino people which you put in senseless words just to cover up the ignorance of this administration.

(First published on The LANCE's October 2019 Issue)