A Matter of Time


Tourism Secretary Gemma Cruz-Araneta sent me a fax the other day thanking me for a "balanced" write-up I did last week regarding a statement she allegedly made to the effect that Davao City has been removed from the Department of Tourism's list of preferred tourist destinations in the country. In that write-up I simply said she denied having given the statement, or that 68 conventions in Davao City had been canceled (there were only three, she said, quoting Davao Tourism Association president Art Boncato). I was actually just doing my job: she said something, I wrote it down. No need to thank me.


The first day of classes came and went, and while there were traffic jams in many areas, they seemed to be less so this year than in previous ones. Credit it to the new rerouting scheme ("experimental," the city government emphasizes), which I feel has done much to ease the traffic in our city. Most commuters I have spoken to feel the same way. It's only a little more inconvenient to get to downtown from certain areas, but the net effect is that we get there faster. For instance, to travel from Mintal to Magsaysay Avenue where the Mirror office is located I could take a Mintal-Agdao jeep (at P6) straight to downtown (the jeep turns right at Quimpo Boulevard for faster travel), then take another jeep (at P3) to Magsaysay. Total cost: P9. But what I do is get down in Matina (P3), then take a Matina-Agdao jeep which goes through Magsaysay (P3.50). Total cost: P6.50. That, by the way, is only P.50 more than what I was paying before the traffic rerouting, but I also get the added benefit of faster travel.


Of course I am speaking as a jeepney rider. The drivers, I gather, have a beef against the city government because their income has been cut. This is difficult to understand since the same volume of people travel within the city, but granted that this is true, I believe it is a matter of waiting for the system to correct itself. One reason for the dip in income may be that many jeepney riders, confused by the rerouting and finding it difficult to find exactly where it is they are supposed to take their rides, have been opting to take taxi cabs instead. But this cannot be maintained by most of us, and we will all, in the end, find ourselves adjusting to the new routes for survival's sake.


If anything, the city government may be faulted for not being aggressive enough in its information drive. People simply do not know what the new routes are, and this has led to confusion in these early days of the new scheme. It is not enough to field volunteers on the first days of the implementation, or to publish the routes a few times in the newspapers. Perhaps flyers are in order, or a more regular appearance of the routes in different publications. The government must do whatever it takes to make the new scheme stick to our minds.

2000 Jon Joaquin. All rights reserved.