Monday, October 09, 2006



If only I could throw you across my lap and spank your butts until they’re blue and black, I would!!! Oh stupid children, do you have to make you own mistakes before you will learn your lessons?

I am speaking to you Jimmy Jun, Jay, Japhet, John Robert, Akoi, and Gabriel – all of you who answered in the negative when asked whether we should be wearing helmets or not when riding our motorcycles. (Vox Populi, Metropost, October 1-7, 2006 issue)

Jimmy Jun, you said that you have been driving around Dumaguete for five years without a helmet, and have never encountered any problem, so why change the way things are?

My dear child, not having had any accident in the last five years does not mean that you have some sort of invisible shield around you, protecting you from all those “horrible” things that we older people seem to be scared of!

Jay, you said that we don’t have to wear a helmet because it makes us look ugly. Gabriel basically said the same thing, that helmets will lessen the beauty of fashion and style.

Oh, c’mon guys! Think how ugly you would really look if, God forbid, your faces would be scarred forever after a “minor” mishap. And I wonder how you could parade around in the latest fashion and style with a broken leg or two? Or how about if you would get your heads smashed and live to tell about it? But then, you would be confined in a wheelchair and tell your story in barely discernable speech, with saliva uncontrollably dripping down one side of your mouth. Now that’s a pretty sight!

John Robert, you made a valid observation about the helmet making it difficult for the driver to look on either side. It is difficult, yes, but not impossible. And you think that we do not really need helmets and that it is up for us to be more careful when driving.

Akoi, are you sure that accidents happen only when you drive fast?

Let me tell this to both of you. I am probably one of the most careful drivers there is. Why? Because I am painfully aware that I could lose my life anytime due to a million causes, including a vehicular accident. But I could not die yet. I must continue to live because I still have a six-year old daughter and I can’t have her growing up without her mother. That is why I am always careful.

But you know what? I still went down in my motorcycle while going at about 20 km/h. Preposterous? Not at all. The back of my motorcycle was nudged by a motorcab, and down I went! I escaped with just bruised knees and palms.

The point that I am trying to make is that no matter how careful you are, there will always be someone else out there who is not as careful as you are! And that somebody can crash into and maim or kill even the most careful driver in the world!

Do yourself a favor John and leave your youthful sense of invincibility behind. Face the scary reality that even the best driver is NOT SAFE from the really bad ones.

Akoi, take note of this: I was driving slow and so was the motorcab driver because we were both trying to inch our way out of a traffic jam at that time. But I still went down because of that slight bump.

I think most drivers still consider 40km/h slow. Can you imagine what would have happened if both of us had been going at 40km/h? I am not sure of this but wouldn’t that make the force of collision equivalent to 80 km/h? Can you imagine if I, or you, were thrown from the motorcycle at that speed?

If you had been following this column, you would know that a crash at 40km/h has the same impact as falling from a two-storey building into concrete.

Imagine, young Akoi, what it would be like to fall from a four-storey building into cemented ground. Ouch!

Finally, we get to Japhet whom I saved for last. Can I give you a hug? If I had a child when I was seventeen, he or she would be just your age by now. I prefer to hug you, as a mom would, rather than give vent to my strong urge to shake you until you are senseless!! Grrrr ...

Do you really believe that there is no need for helmets because we all drive slowly in Dumaguete anyway?

My child, where have you been lately? Haven’t you seen what’s REALLY happening in our streets? Haven’t you seen those crazy drivers zooming around as if racing in their own private racetracks, or zigzagging between the cars and motorcabs like seasoned stuntmen?
Or ever notice how reckless even the most mature-looking drivers become as soon as the rain would start falling? I call it the “mad dash” to the nearest shelter. I always send a silent prayer every time I would see these people, especially when their children are with them. I pray that they find shelter and not disaster.

But I may be asking you the wrong questions Japhet. Should I be asking instead – how fast is fast for you? If you think that 50km/h is still slow and that 80km/h is what’s really fast, then we are in great trouble here.

But really, Japhet, you are seriously mistaken. Dumaguete drivers are not saints. They do drive fast, really fast. And it is not just the young adults like you who do that. I have seen older men and women, and that makes it even worse, because these people are supposed to know better.

But I guess, young or old, we can all be blamed for thinking that we are invincible or untouchable. A very basic understanding of human nature will tell us that anyone can fall prey to the mistaken belief that bad things can happen only to the next guy, but never to us or our loved ones. How stupid of us!

This line of thought brings to mind one episode of CSI Miami where recovering alcoholics or people who were apprehended for drunk driving, were taken to the morgue to view the battered corpses of drunk drivers or of their victims. This was intended to impress into their fogged minds how easily death could come to them or to others as a consequence of their drunken acts.

I will probably get stoned, not only for contemplating this thought but for writing about this, but I am wondering if seeing a bloody head, or brain spilling out of a cracked skull, or broken and dismembered limbs scattered about, would make our children think twice before rejecting helmets, or before speeding around in their motorcycles?

This is extreme but I think that this is a preferable option compared to the risk of seeing them learn their lessons the hard way.

But how I wish that there could be gentler ways of knocking some sense into their heads and that we don’t have to pound their young minds into realizing that what had happened to others could happen to them as well.

Suggestions, anyone? But no stones, please!

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