Jul 13, 2008

Where is Calderon Street?

There are “No Parking” signs all over the place: along the side where Prime Hotel is, across it where Skyworld used to be, at the triangle a little further in, so why is Calderon street filled with parked vehicles all day long?

On any given day, during the afternoon rush hour, this is what welcomes you along Calderon: Going up the road from Harrison Road, you’re stuck in a gridlock because there are no traffic lights which comes as a surprise considering how busy that intersection is: perhaps at least half of all the jeeps in the city pass there, add to that the taxis, the private vehicles that are either passing through, or filling up at the gas station at the corner, or getting a carwash across it.

Finally you get out of the jam and your vehicle crawls at an agonizing 5-10 feet per minute if you’re driving. After several minutes, you finally go past Burnham Hotel, and see the reason for your misery: More cars, most of them imposing gas-guzzlers parked right next to “No Parking” signs. Out of nowhere, “parking attendants/watch-your-car boys” appear from nowhere flagging you down to offer you a parking spot. And because it’s 4PM and they can’t park along Session road anymore, and they don’t wanna pay P25.00 to park inside SM, or around P50.00 at the Baguio Cathedral or Porta Vaga parking lots if they’re gonna park for more than a couple of hours, those who accept the services of one of these “parking attendants/watch-your-car boys” are led to where? Another “No Parking” spot.

It’s a jungle out there, anarchy rules all day long. Delivery motorcycles spilling out towards the middle of the road, next to that an illegally parked armored vehicle surrounded by intimidating heavily armed guards, and if that isn’t enough to create a road traffic mess, those who are too lazy to walk more than 10 feet to where they’re going from their vehicles would double park right next to the illegally parked cars leaving hardly enough room for vehicles to pass through. That leaves you with no option but to overtake and go into counter flow, which brings you head on with oncoming vehicles turning right from Session Road going the other way – a pissing match begins:

The car ahead honks his horn at you, and you do the same to the double parked vehicle. The driver of the car ahead sticks out his head and shouts obscenities your way, you stick out your head and shout obscenities at the driver of the double parked vehicles (if there’s a driver in there, otherwise your screaming at a non-living thing).

In the meantime, the car in front of you continues his honking, the cars behind it are honking, the cars behind you are honking, you’re honking, and suddenly a “parking attendants/park/watch-your-car boy” appears from nowhere to save day. NOT. He goes right in the middle of the snarl not to untangle the mess, but to signal for everyone to stop for a client of his getting his/her illegally parked car out.

And then you see a couple of police officers at the corner, taking out license plates from one, two, three or four illegally parked cars on Session Road and you wonder why they’re not doing the same to all those illegally parked cars on Calderon Street.

And then you stop wondering when the “parking attendants/ watch-your-car boy” collects his fee from his client, and walks away leaving you at the mercy once again of the car ahead of you, the cars behind it, the cars behind you, and the cars behind them… etc.

Where is Calderon Street ? Is it far away from the center of the city that would somehow make it understandable that nobody in authority notices the anarchy that goes on there everyday?

Nope, it’s right there. It’s just that there’s a big difference between not seeing something and looking the other way.


(Tales From a Hill Station, Cordillera Today, July 13 Issue)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How does one propose then to have a signal light put up where it's needed, I wonder?
Thanks for this revealing article. Even back when we used to live in Baguio eons ago, we used to eye the visitors and "outsiders" with disdain and suspicion and hoped they were there for a short vacation and not to stay and put up their shanties and businesses. Obviously, and sadly the latter has been happening and the little city just can't cope with this so-called "progress".
Where are the movers and the shakers of this city to make things right?