Progress in the Jungle
I hear about it all the time. Many of us read about it a lot also. Progress. We all hear so much about all the progress and big strides this country is making. But for the poor folks in the far corners of the provinces, progress for them can simply mean the barangay has not been torn up by a typhoon yet this year. It is sad when you think about it – that many communities and small Barangays outside of the larger metro areas are like the stray dogs of the Philippines…they get nothing but the leftover scraps and bones, if there is any left at all.
For two years now we have been traveling in and out of our barangay on a road that is barely wide enough in many places for two cars to pass each other without one giving in to part of the adjacent jungle, rice field, or even worse, somebody’s front yard. I should also mention that many parts of the road consist of what might as well be a single lane, where only one side of the actual pavement is worth driving on. One year ago, I had a difficult time coming to grips with the idea of buying a new car knowing that traversing this 1.6 kilometer jungle road on a daily basis would likely tear up a new car so fast, it wouldn’t be fit to trade-in in 3 years time. We did get the car and I’ve since learned to drive extremely slow over the really rough spots in the road. So slow sometimes, I’ve had speedy chickens and goats overtake me going in the same direction… on both sides…at the same time!
Several months ago, while leaving our jungle hideaway one day, we noticed about three “official looking” dudes in the roadway doing some measuring. This was rather auspicious to me because they were measuring the lengths of the really bad sections of the road with a 100 meter tape. “Someone had gotten the ball rolling and we were getting a new road” I thought. “Now if the money ever shows up, we could have a new road in say, 5 years time” I went on. Then next day, the measuring folks were gone and nobody was any better informed as to what was happening. It was like returning to normal when normal never really changed in the first place.
So here we are many more months later and yesterday when my wife returned home from town, she informed me that a portion of our road had been torn-up and says it looks like it is being fixed. I asked her “how much road” and she replied “about from here to there” as she pointed in two different directions. I thought “Oh great, one 50 meter section at a time and we will never live long enough to see it all done.” So my curiosity got the best of me and I hopped on my bike to head out and see for myself, and to my surprise, they were working on several sections. They had marked everything off in sections and by the looks of it, we were finally going to experience some of that real progress…right here in our very own jungle. I mean we even had real “Road Under Repair” signs. This was a good sign, no pun intended.
This morning again I took the bike for a ride and ass I drove down the road and back, I could see that they had crushed up several 100 meters sections of road in separate areas. They do it in segments, or sections (in a somewhat checkerboard fashion), to alleviate traffic issues. If they were to just do one side or the other first, no two vehicles would be able to get by each other until the road was completed and that just doesn’t work out well here. I did stop and have a chat with a couple of the workers who acknowledged that the entire roadway was to be completed all the way to our village. One guy was so excited tell his version with his pointing gestures saying “we make more larger” (meaning wider). The workers all beamed with smiles and seemed proud to have a real job that would last more than a few days. They were even more excited that I stopped off to chat and offer to take their picture. My guess is that they are all simply happy to be working.
So my wife is “feeling good” this morning (according to her most recent fb post), and I can admit myself that I am feeling merrier than a hot dog vendor at Suma Wrestler’s convention. And as for our car after one year, the Mitsubishi is none the worse for wear and should last to see better days ahead. For the Centercar and Trike drivers, and all their passengers, they too will be a much happier lot!