Earlier in the week, Presidential Spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, said that there was no mass transport crisis in the capital city. This was in response to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr.’s claim that the capital city was experiencing a “mass transport crisis.”
Reyes noted that all three light rail train lines in the city suffered glitches last week that have caused anguish for commuters.
Panelo said that commuters were still able to get to their destinations and as such, there was no mass transport crisis. To prove his claim, the groups Anakbayan, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan to dared him to commute.
Much to the surprise of the public, that he did.
Panelo accepted the challenge, and commuted to Malacañang Palace in San Miguel, Manila from his home in Concepcion, Marikina. The commute is approximately 20 kilometers and typically takes an hour and a half to two hours by private car.
Panelo started his commute at 5:15 AM, walking from his home to the jeepney terminal in his town. It took quite some time before he was able to get on the first of four rides to his office. Almost two hours into his commute, he was still in Cubao, still a fair distance away from the Palace. By the time he got to V. Mapa, he was already late.
His last hurdle would come in the form of a tricycle. The trike he was supposed to get on would not start, costing him even more time. His savior came in the form of a motorcyclist passing by and offered to hitch him a ride. After long walks, standing in line for three jeepney rides, a broken tricycle, and a helpful passerby, Panelo arrived at the Malacañang grounds by 8:47 AM. The total time of the commute took 3 hours and 32 minutes, more than twice the time it takes to cover it by car.
Despite the lengthy commute, Panelo said that he can stand to do this sort of commute everyday. He even said that Filipinos are resilient and creative in finding ways and solutions.
He was quoted by the press saying, “Kaya lahat yan. Alam mo, tayong mga Pilipino, malikhain tayo. Tayo 'yung tipong may problema, tinatawanan lang natin. Gumagawa tayo ng paraan para tayo'y maging angkop sa sitwasyon. Pero hindi ibig sabihin eh papabayaan nalang natin 'yung ganito. (We can do this. Us Filipinos are creative. If we have a problem, we just laugh at it. We always find ways to adapt to the situation. However, it doesn't always mean that we'll let just let things the way they are”.)
Is this the kind of commute Filipinos living in Metro Manila should learn to tolerate?