New ‘bak­wits’

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINION -

“RUN for your life” spun off to a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion this week. A dou­ble whammy last Thurs­day— an­other MRT break­down and the sidelin­ing of Que­zon City jeep­neys by an LTO crack­down— left many com­muters stranded again at rush hours.

Join­ing the march of com­muters, I re­al­ized once more how ur­ban liv­ing hones cer­tain sur­vival skills. To carry out the nec­es­sary— go to work, catch class, go home— the new bak­wits have to “walk for life” to go on.

“Bak­wits” is a Bisaya ne­ol­o­gism for “evac­uees.” Refugees are usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with the mass move­ment to es­cape war zones or avoid bear­ing the brunt of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

Com­muters are the new “bak­wits.” Many of us carry our worlds on our backs. Even pre­sum­ing we could rely on mass tran­sit, we leave our res­i­dence with what is only nec­es­sary and as­sem­ble ev­ery­thing else along the way: meals, as­sign­ments, even faces (many women ap­ply make-up in the MRT or bus un­der the some­times watch­ful, of­ten in­dif­fer­ent panop­ti­con of strangers’eyes).

Ur­ban trans­porta­tion grows apace with ur­ban spa­ces. What hap­pens when mass tran­sit doesn’t?

It gluts dig­i­tal space, as many fel­low com­muters let off angst by post­ing im­ages of last Thurs­day’s bak­wits, stranded by the MRT un­load­ing some 800 pas­sen­gers due to a break­down of elec­tri­cal sub-com­po­nents, most likely can­ni­bal­ized from out-of-run­ning trains (from about 20 trains car­ry­ing an over-the-max­i­mum daily ca­pac­ity of 500,000 com­muters to only five trains last Thurs­day).

Creat­ing more com­muter paral­y­sis, the Land Trans­porta­tion Of­fice (LTO) con­ducted a bl­itzkrieg op­er­a­tion in the mid­dle of Thurs­day. The “Tang­gal Bu­lok Tang­gal Usok” cam­paign looks good on paper be­cause it pro­tects com­muters by en­sur­ing only road­wor­thy pub­lic util­ity jeep­neys (PUJs) ply the routes and don’t en­dan­ger com­muters.

In prac­tice, the ab­sence of jeep­ney queues only means an­other headache: no jeep­neys be­cause the driv­ers are choos­ing to stay home or park­ing to wait for the in­spec­tions to end and the chances of in­cur­ring fines go aw ay.

In the end, we help jeep­ney driv­ers skirt the law by hold­ing onto a seat­belt that doesn’t re­ally fas­ten and se­cure front-seat rid­ers or keep our eyes peeled for lurk­ing en­forcers who may stop a PUJ to in­spect it has the reg­u­lated fire ex­tin­guisher.

The pub­lic’s sym­pa­thy is for the “bu­lok” of so­ci­ety, try­ing, like the rest of us, to go through their day de­spite the pesky in­ter­fer­ence of the state.

When the wrong trains run (the TRAIN law that has made all ba­sic good prices shoot up, from rice to LPG) or don’t run (“heart­breaker” top­notcher MRT with its record-break­ing num­ber of break­downs and sep­a­ra­tions), it’s time to the new “bak­wits” to “walk for life.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.