Street Observations

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By Roberto P. Alabado III

Planning Perspectives

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

IT IS when things slow down that one can finally see what is to be seen. A deliberate slow down on your everyday tasks will allow you to enjoy your senses – the sumptuous smell of barbecue in Bolton and Ilustre, the sweet taste of newly-cooked law-uy in the sidewalk of San Pedro among others. Walking the streets of the downtown area and the sloooow speed of cars will now allow you to observe things as they happen. Here are some observations I have when walking the streets of downtown.

An exciting competition is underway in the intersection of Bolton and Rizal – nope it is not between the two fast food hamburger giants that compete on who gets to clog the most arteries, widen the most waistlines and raise blood sugars among their customers but I see it between as between the fast food chains and our homegrown diners. I really do not know with you but I would gladly have halo-halo, siomai, and tapsilog anytime anywhere. Let us see how it goes.

The reuse of old buildings always brings resilience to our downtown economy. We have seen old houses renovated to become nice restaurants and now a building along Rizal is undergoing renovation too. While it used to be a high-end department store, let us hope that the new commercial spaces can be offered to our nightly ukay-ukay sidewalk vendors. This is the only solution to this sidewalk vendor issue, offer them spaces where they can trade legally. They can afford stall rentals but they choose to ply their trade on the sidewalk kasi ten pesos na arkabala lang babayaran sa city hall. But I say – they can sell more if they can establish ukay ukay centers inside commercial buildings because they can operate day and night. Maybe they can upgrade their marketing styles and be like the 24 hour shopping malls of Seoul.


Passing by a gymnasium along Torres, you could see a lot of cars parked on both sides of the national road especially after office hours. Seen from street inside the gym are dozens of people huffing and puffing their calories away. Such an irony… I saw a study once that cited that the use of cars in the US resulted in wider waistlines and other health issues. Now if only those people can realize that walking their dogs, jogging on the streets and commuting or biking to work can get you fit in no time rather than spend money in the gym and clog the streets with cars. True story – a friend of mine sold his car and started commuting and walking work to lose weight and he did.

As usual, sidewalks are always blocked not only by sidewalk vendors but by motorcycles and cars. Calling again the attention of the building official to re-inspect the parking allocation of the recently constructed buildings; ask the building owners to use the sidewalk they poorly constructed and let them pass through the walls that they have constructed to block the path of the sidewalk connecting to the next segment of sidewalk of the next building or lot. Better yet, let us make our own building code and then insert a no on-street parking policy especially those traversed by public transportation within the Poblacion area. Sidewalks are made for walking not parking; and roads are made for commuting not parking.

While we are on it, rather some news network creating a sensationalized news item on how a former mayor now private citizen was penalized for speeding, why not embark on a regular education program that will really educate people on traffic rules and regulations? Have a two to five minute segment in your daily news shows to show and explain to the public the traffic rules and regulations. Enough of the everyday coverage of those who were involved in traffic accidents by showing their gruesome wounds because it has a negative effect in educating people.
Sensationalizing traffic accidents and violence seem to have resulted in the indifference of people because they have now accepted these as just normal everyday occurrence. Educate not sensationalize.

Arggggh, see what happens when you have time to stop and smell the flowers? Sometimes it is not flowers you smell but some nasty stuff. The good thing is when you have time to observe your surroundings, you also learn lessons and from the lessons we can form actions on how to make things better.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 16, 2014.


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