[Blueboard] Crossing Katipunan as a matter of attitude

Czarina Saloma csaloma at ateneo.edu
Sun Apr 4 23:24:49 PHT 2004


Dear All,

In the past few days, I have crossed Katipunan Avenue with the help of
MMDA personnel and each time I wished I had a more decent and safer way
of crossing. The MMDA traffic enforcer stations himself in the middle of
the street, waves at speeding cars to stop, and then motions to the
pedestrians to cross. This formula works only when groups of people are
crossing. However, if only one or two happen to have a need to cross the
street, the experience is far from pleasant. 

Having MMDA traffic enforcers around to help members of the Ateneo
community cross Katipunan Avenue from Gate 3 is not a good idea. Neither
is constructing a new footbridge near Gate 3 from public funds since an
existing footbridge is just about a hundred meters away. Why do we insist
on crossing at that particular point? Unwillingness to let go of old
habits and preference for comfort and convenience are ruining Metro
Manila: people do not want to walk, preferring to drive; they do not want
to climb footbridges, preferring to run for their lives. 

The Ateneo community is far more organized and has more capabilities than
the rest of Metro Manila to ask for special privileges such as MMDA
personnel and footbridges. We should however recognize that most of Metro
Manila has a much more urgent need for footbridges. The situation at Gate
3 at the moment does not require the Ateneo community to assert its
interests and needs as we already have what we need: a footbridge a few
meters away. As Ms. Lara Mendoza has pointed out in an earlier email, we
should start developing a culture of walking. What Ateneo should
therefore do is to upgrade access to the footbridge (e.g., landscaped,
well-lighted at night footpaths).

The present MMDA is trying to find solutions to our urban condition. Let
us be more differentiated in our analysis of society and recognize not
only the negative points of the MMDA (e.g., endangering crossings,
cutting down trees in certain areas) but also the positive things they
have done in Metro Manila (e.g., easing traffic flows, landscaping of
certain public spaces). 

When public structures are in place, Filipinos will choose to behave in a
decent way. The present situation at Gate 3 is however not about the lack
of structures but about the attitudes of people. Let us recognize that
individuals who still conflate the public and the private derail the
project of developing a sense of urbanity in Metro Manila. Let us all aim
to have structures that consider the everyday realities of people (since
not all Metro Manila public structures do), as well as a worldview that
considers public issues over personal troubles. 

Dr. Czarina Saloma Akpedonu



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