Not many motoring columns tackle as a matter of course transportation and traffic management issues as they equally do auto industry concerns and developments. And this column counts itself as one of the few in its more than two decades of broadsheet life.
Having said that we have had our more than a fair share of reactions from the general motoring public to motoring problems, transport and traffic management policies and other government pronouncements.
Lately quite a few government pronouncements have been made one after the other and have elicited varied responses, some negative, some apprehensive and some approving, though the latter come few and far in between.
Let's take what has been announced very recently requiring events organizers to submit traffic routes and management recommendations prior to having their events approved for staging by the MMDA.
I understand this is in reaction to the increased traffic gridlocks that happened during Valentine's Day, which the MMDA blames on the highly successful concert that was held on the same day.
To begin with, I have been going out on dates on Valentine's Day since I was old enough to (and that has been quite a time from now) and year in and year out, that was always the case. Streets were always clogged with vehicles going to and fro. Most people were out travelling to some place to mark the special day. And I don't limit this to lovers or couples but including entire families. And this was long before there was any kind of mass transport like the MRT or the LRT or the slew of half empty or half full buses that traverse EDSA-long before the metro's daily traffic mess.
The general reaction we got from the pronouncement was that the blame should not be centered on the event. There's a daily traffic nightmare in the metro to begin with and an increase in the volume of vehicles on the road on a special day like Valentine's Day should be expected and prepared for-whether there's a scheduled event or none.
And the reaction from event organizers is simple, "Our expertise is to conceive and manage events with the end of attracting warm bodies to be present. Not to manage traffic nor design traffic routes. We concede that you should be advised about the event, but isn't that part of the bureaucracy when we get our permits approved by the local government?"
With all due respect to the MMDA, to me that argument of event organizers seems to make a lot of sense.
Now on the other side of the coin the MMDA's"No Jeepney in EDSA" policy is being met by a "double thumbs up" reaction from motorists. It's actually a long time coming and many are wondering why only now, with a keen eye on the many past traffic administrations failing to see this or just had their eyes shut to the problem. The jeepneys' presence, adding to the over crowding of buses (still many are colorums, I was told) in EDSA are major causes of the metro's daily traffic woes.
The "double thumbs up" rating from motorists did not come undeserved or overvalued. Simply because unlike some government policies that were just announced and implemented sans due diligence as to their consequences, the MMDA also made sure that the alternative routes assigned to the EDSA-banned jeepneys were cleared of illegally parked vehicles and vendors by the MMDA for easier access.
Giving credit where credit is due-Kudos to the MMDA for the political will to implement the policy and the preparedness for its implementation.
In another development we have received reports that the MMDA is cracking down on jaywalkers especially those PUV passengers that alight or board in the middle of the road or in non-designated loading and unloading areas. The report also cited that a total of 2,211 violators have been apprehended from January 1 to February 14 this year. What seems to be lacking in the report is whether the drivers who allowed the passengers to board or alight in these areas were similarly apprehended. Remember, "it takes two to tango"-both passenger and driver should be apprehended and cited separately for different offences-the passenger for jaywalking and the driver for its appropriate traffic violation. And you better believe it, this malpractice of wanton loading and unloading anywhere, especially in the middle of the road disrupting the flow of traffic is one of the many major causes of traffic gridlocks-some even end in road rage conflicts.
The motorists' reaction to this is apprehension. As to how long would the crackdown last-another ningas cogon?
Now here's a government statement via an official memorandum that reportedly elicited some puzzled reactions from some members of the auto industry-a uniform spec for the conduction sticker-based temporary plates for motorists to use in lieu of their yet-to-be-released registration plates from the LTO. This is in response to how the temporary plates are currently coming in various designs as vehicle owners patiently wait for four long years now for the release of the official plates, which continue to be delayed due to a myriad of legal problems.
With puzzled looks in their faces as they read the memo from the LTO, many in the industry are now asking, "So these are the specs. Now, who's going to pick up the tab in producing these conduction sticker-based temporary plates?"
I'm sure the no nonsense LTO head, Assec. Edgar Galvante meant well in releasing the specs for a uniform look in form as well as in substance of all temporary plates instead of an all mixed up "labo-labo" look that makes it very difficult to remember how the temporary plate of a vehicle that's involved in a criminal activity or accident looks like in making a report.
But then it also makes sense for anybody in the private sector who's going to foot the bill in producing these temporary plates to ask, "Why me?"
I guess the better approach for the LTO would be, "Inasmuch as you are making these temporary plates yourself, you might as well do them this way for a uniform look-just a suggestion, a very strong one."
As for me, it's just a thought. But then, why not think about it?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.
At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network’s AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart’s middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN’s DZYL and DZQL.
From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.
In the early 70’s, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).
In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports’ living legend Pocholo Ramirez.
After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN’s Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable’s Channel 13.
The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport’s hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.
In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry’s latest technological developments.
In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star’s business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.
Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.
Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)