‘What we are actually lacking is a sense of urgency to get things done, especially infrastructure projects outside of Metro Manila…’
A VISION is about to be realized… 50 years hence.
Having transferred to my father’s old house in Alaminos, Laguna nearly a month ago, I have been navigating the route from the town proper to SLEX via Sto. Tomas and part of the STAR Tollway to get to BGC and back. I’ve been lucky: 9 times out of 10 travel has been considerably a breeze and by that I mean getting to BGC (or back) within 90 or so minutes. And that’s without really breaking the 100kph speed limit (80 on the Skyway): it’s about being on the road at the perfect time to drive, and keeping your fingers crossed that no accidents happen.
Since my father retired to Alaminos in the late 1990s I’ve never gone home for a fiesta.
Never. And the reason is known to any motorist or commuter who travels this part of Maharlika Highway on the way to or coming from Quezon Province or the Bicol Region: the Sto. Tomas-Alaminos-San Pablo section of the route is one long bottleneck that can add an hour (at best!) to your travel time. Try passing on October 12 (the Alaminos town fiesta) and you had better bring a bowl of popcorn or an emergency peepee bottle. Because the Maharlika Highway cuts through the Poblacion, any parade will mean stopped traffic and a jam that stretches for kilometers.
Having a laser gun would also be great because then you can laser to oblivion that errant motorist who decides to take matters into his own hands and counterflows. Jeesas. These people deserve the ultimate EJK penalty.
I’ve always wondered: why hasn’t anyone ever thought of a bypass road? How stupid can we be? Only to find out that someone did, way back in the 1970s. When Ferdinand Marcos was plotting the route of the SLEX which at that time extended what was called the Manila South Diversion Road (MSDR) from Alabang to Calamba, he already had also outlined the plan to extend the line all the way past Calamba towards Lucena and beyond.
Yet, here we are in the 21st Century, 50 years later, and only now are there (finally) some work on making that vision real. Thanks to San Miguel Corporation’s construction arm, work is ongoing on this extension from Calamba to Lucena, with a 2022 target completion date.
SMC just has to work out a few more right of way (ROW) issues and soon the cement will set in this project called TR4 (Toll Road 4).
Fifty years. Jeesas.
Why did it take that long? That’s the question that must be asked. Actually, this project has apparently undergone “groundbreaking” at least three times previously: under FVR, under GMA and under PNoy. The latter even boasted that the road would be done by August 2019. But as a number of presidential boasts go (especially those done during campaign periods!) nothing happened. Till now. And still there are a few kinks that need to be ironed out, successfully hopefully this time.
I guess I was wrong. The Philippines is not lacking on the “vision thing.” Marcos clearly had a number laid out in the 1970s that have yet to be realized. What we are actually lacking is a sense of urgency to get things done, especially infrastructure projects outside of Metro Manila, like this one. And, for sure, many others like it. Just imagine how tollways and feeder roads can open the countryside and decongest the national capital region!
Politicians are good at promises but poor at execution. And maybe, just maybe, it matters too that, as PRRD charges, the DPWH still reeks of corruption?
Execute the vision (and execute the corrupt). We can’t afford the wait of 50 years.
(Thank you to Toyota San Pablo for its excellent PMS work on my company vehicle. Thank you also to Ferdinand “Bong” Alvaran, the efficient service advisor who assisted me last Saturday. Mauulit!)