Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not Even a Statistic

It was like just one of those mornings. I leave for the office early and look forward to a few minutes of quiet time in front of my desk. Time I can use to sort documents, to check e-mails and catch up on friends through Facebook.

Then it happened...the taxi in front of me applies the brakes. I hit mine. But not as abrupt as the taxi as I always keep a good distance behind in case of sudden stops. I hear a thud. No, it was more like a crunch. I look behind, and lo and behold, a motorcycle rider trying to scratch his head through his helmet. I put on the hazard lights and alight from the car. It wasn't going to be one of those days. Today was different. I was on the receiving end of an accident.

I won't talk about the expression on the face of the motorcyclist as he realized how much the damage would cost him. I won't talk about how he didn't want to show me his license and the registration of his motorcycle. I won't even talk about the impromptu lecture I had to give this morning about safe driving and its social and financial aspects. What's done is done and I'm sort of a forgiving person, knowing where I can't get anything. Perhaps it's just a wake up call. I just hope the other guy took notice.

Being in the transportation field, we call these things road traffic accidents. I just joined the hundreds or even thousands of people who get involved in accidents. What's sad is that my case is classified among the unknowns. Yes, Mr. MMDA Chair, your accident stats aren't at all accurate! What frustrated me and ultimately pissed me off this morning was the fact that several MMDA enforcers on motorcycles passed us by without even checking what happened and inquiring on the reason for the instant congestion our incident caused. Talk about training, talk about the drivers' faults, but don't take responsibility for this because its other people's fault that our streets aren't safe. In our accident reporting system, you have to be critically injured or dead to be a statistic. Maybe that's how a statistic is defined in MMDA terms. Perhaps that's how it's defined by our government or at least by some people who make the government look bad. But who am I to talk about these things? I'm not even a statistic!

Disclaimer: I am a government employee and I do serve the people.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


A lot has been written and said about change. Some people claim and proclaim how they are agents of change and how they have embraced change. Often, people are urged to get out of their comfort zones, to leave their shells.

I would like to believe that many of us, even those who preach the gospel of change in one way or another, actually fear change and hide behind the rhetoric, the words, in an attempt to shield ourselves from the very change we so advocate.

People change. It is indeed one thing that is constant in this world. We change as our environment changes. So much around us influence our lives. It may be our families, our loved ones, the people we choose to live with. It can be our co-workers, the people we mingle with, acquaintances, or even those we encounter for fleeting moments in our daily journeys.

We are often uncomfortable with the fact that those around us are changing, or have changed. We like to look and analyze and criticize how others have changed when all we are doing is denying ourselves of accepting that process, and realizing that we ourselves are changing, albeit at a pace that we choose and set in our minds. We have the tendency to observe and critique what's happening to those around us when we have failed to see our own transformations. And therein lies the problem - a dilemma that poses a challenge to how we engage the realities of life.

The real issue might not really be about change but of control. We might really be fearing the loss of control and not change itself. I would like to believe that we all want to have control, to take control, but in varying degrees and maybe under different circumstances. The frustration over loss of control in one area is manifested in our attempt to control those that we perceive we can. Often the problem here is the struggle for control overlaps or coincides with the attempts of others to have similar control.

At this point I will choose not to offer any solutions. I, too, am trying to understand, to comprehend how those around me, including myself, are coping with change. I, too, am looking inwards and seeking how I have, am and will assert what I perceive as the control that I would need to bring order to my environment while pondering on the influence I will have to those around me. I can only hope everyday that everything will eventually come out right and that I can achieve peace of mind and heart.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Prof. Jose Ma. De Castro was my teacher in only one subject, CE 121 (Construction Materials), and yet he has had a tremendous impact in my life, in my career. It was during his lectures in CE 121 that I came to appreciate how the minor subjects like CE 21 (Engineering Statistics) and CE 22 (Engineering Economy) were useful in many civil engineering applications. It was his ability to explain with such clarity that allowed us to understand both the theoretical and practical aspects of the subject matter. Later, he would joke that he was not a good CE 121 professor.

Jodec, as we fondly called him, was the Department Chair of Civil Engineering by the time I was a senior. He was always among the earliest to arrive at the C.E. Department offices during registration period. He advised us to take electives under two visiting professors at that time, explaining that these electives would provide us with a different perspective. Little did I know then that one of these electives will steer me towards a career in Transportation Engineering, especially drawing me towards teaching and research.

At a critical point in my life, it was Jodec who influenced my direction towards transportation engineering. I would like to believe that it was on the strength of his recommendation that I was later admitted to graduate school, which eventually opened many doors for me.

I will forever be grateful to what Prof. De Castro imparted – knowledge, wisdom, and a dedication to the University – but I am especially thankful to him for giving me a chance to become what I am now. I am sure that many of us are grateful for his invaluable contributions to Civil Engineering. On top of his obvious achievements, we will remember that he taught our generation, and taught us well. It is his faith in students like me that makes his contributions personal to us. And for those of us who followed in his footsteps within the academe, a legacy to aspire for.