Write about driving in Metro Manila and you will receive a lot of messages from people agreeing with you. The following is a rather personal assessment of driving in Davao City; a reader, Mr. Tony Kobine, sent me his interesting observations: As a foreigner driving in Davao City, it is good to hear a Pinoy commenting on the same hair-raising experiences I observe every day. It means that I’m not simply being “culturally insensitive.”
Mr. Kobine must be referring to Jose Perdigon’s letter which I shared last week; Mr. Perdigon is not a Pinoy, he is a Spaniard; neither of the two is “culturally insensitive.”
Mr. Kobine wrote: “I have seen more terrifying driving in other countries (Iran and Sicily spring to mind) but one thing I’ve never seen is how tolerant Pinoy drivers are of others’ faults. Not just tolerant, but some drivers will actually encourage bad habits by, for example, holding up traffic on a major road to allow a parked vehicle to reverse out, or another vehicle to enter from a minor road. There is also a tacit “pecking order” of tolerance. Taxi drivers are given total leeway to do what they like. They can start into traffic without checking behind them, safe in the knowledge that other drivers will allow them in without complaint.”
Now, that is certainly a novel point of view from a foreigner; it has never occurred to me to describe Filipino drivers as “tolerant” of others. (Yours truly is the exception, of course.) In Metro Manila, road rage is a daily phenomenon, as drivers are known to shoot each other over a parking space. No road rage in Davao? Incredible.
Mr. Kobine is of the opinion that traffic problems will never be corrected because there is no punishment. About Davao, he said: “In two years of driving every day, I have never seen a ticket written for a moving violation. When National Police or CCTMO are deployed at the roadside, it is to check documents or, in Davao City last year, to ticket jaywalkers for not using pedestrian crossings. While hundreds of pedestrians were being fined, vehicles – jeepneys in particular – were still ploughing through crossings and scattering the poor souls who had been herded into them in fear of being ticketed.”
I think I will forward his email to Mayor Sara Duterte.
I was flattered to receive an email from eminent Filipino historian, Dr. Reynaldo C. Ileto. (College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University) because according to him, he has been reading my columns “with great interest.” Dr. Ileto said: “In your most recent post, you mention the need to give our first President, Aguinaldo, his due in the face of his negative portrayal in Heneral Luna [the movie]. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have been troubled by the one-sided presentation in that 2015 film, which I’m afraid, has already soured a whole generation’s perception of Heneral Miong.
Last week I wrote that Aguinaldo should be given credit for pushing the inauguration of our First Republic against all odds. Dr. Ileto said that in his latest book, he takes up the theme of the Republic and the resistance to US occupation as it was played out in Western Tayabas province, particularly the “zone” of Tiaong-Candelaria (cf. Ch. 2, “The Republic in Southern Tagalog” and Ch 4. “Poblacion politics in a time of war”). The approach he took was that of “microhistory” as well as discourse analysis.
Dr. Ileto said: Unfortunately, my book and its author have prematurely taken a beating (or so I am informed by friends, since I’m not on Facebook to face the music) because of a Rappler interview (which the Rappler executives initially tried to suppress) in which I admitted that I was inspired to finish that book upon Duterte’s presidential victory and the strong statements he made about the Filipino/Moro-American War.
I have made similar statements during interviews and in this space because, as far as I can remember, Pres. Duterte is the only Chief Executive who had dared talk about the Philippine-American War, the massacres in Balangiga, and those two unspeakable ones in Mindanao. No other Filipino president has dared allude to those tragic chapters of our history in public. Dr. Ileto laments: “Being allegedly ‘pro-Duterte’ is the worst stigma that an academic can suffer these days; we need to maintain a diversity of views if our republic is to survive. In any case, the book itself was conceptualized and drafted long before Duterte appeared on the national scene. What readers should ponder is the implicit parallel I make between the current mayor-president and his predecessors, Aguinaldo and Malvar, who were successful gobernadorcillos and chiefs of their anti-crime cuadrilleros before they rose to lead the nation’s resistance to American rule.”
Mea culpa, mea culpa, I have not finished reading Dr. Ileto’s most recent book for I was hijacked into curating the HOCUS painting exhibit at the National Gallery of Art of the National Museum. That unique exhibition was on from May to October last year and I had to arrange monthly lectures as well. So, I felt guilty when Dr. Ileto said: “I am also waiting to hear what you think of my inclusion in Chapter 7 of the interventions of Bishop Cesar Ma. Guerrero and the young Leon Ma. Guerrero in the ongoing ‘unfinished revolution’ of the 1940s. I also end the book by speculating that your ancestor Jose Rizal could have become mayor of Calamba had he survived the conflicts of the 1890s. After all, what he said about caciques in the Noli does qualify the dominant Andersonian reading of the term.” After reading his letter, I continued Knowledge and Pacification, on the US Conquest and the writing of Philippine history.