No more ‘baon’, and my beef with the two-wheelers on the road: Our new abnormal (VII)

Published August 1, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng


Teach Me Tonight: If we canvassed parents of children about to embark on their new voyage of online education; it would be easy to draw up a Plus column and a Minus column, and draw some conclusions on how these parents are anticipating the school year to come. And I can guess that for most, the overall feeling is one of trepidation, mixed with guarded optimism. Unless you’ve been doing Home Schooling for years, this is a whole new ball game for the children, the teachers, and the parents.  And with such a heavy dependence on technology, gadgets, and our Almighty WiFi-signal, there is much to be wary about.

          On the Plus column, you’d have stuff like not having to wake up super-early to make “hatid” the kids; or for the luckier ones, no longer having the driver wait in exacerbating traffic for their dismissal. No more packed lunches, or baon allowance for their recess and afternoon snacks. No more bullying at school, unless it’s online. No classes called off due to inclement weather. 

            It’s the Minus column that looks foreboding; as I can imagine how parents are thinking “I’m paying the same tuition fees, but my children are now stuck here at home, and how can I be guaranteed we’re still getting our money’s worth?” Plus with so many parents in WFH mode, the kids will have to have their own dedicated laptops or devices, and safe spaces within the home, to properly simulate a routine that’s akin to being back at school. After months of having the children 24/7; I can imagine some parents are actually dreading the loss of that respite when we’d pack them off to their respective schools, and share the responsibility of child rearing with the teachers.

         For most private schools, the way forward is Blended Learning. Defined as “an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online, with traditional place-based classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place, path, or pace.” And that’s all well and good on paper; but the actuality and practicality of how this is achieved is another matter. For one, families with three or more school-age children are looking at how many devices, and at what cost, to keep each child properly occupied? Pass me the abacus, and all of a sudden, the One Child policy of China’s recent past feels like a touch of Nirvana. 

          Blended Learning & it’s hybrids like to say that it encourages the kids to be independent learners, critical thinkers, and self-directed achievers; but that presumes a lot of self-motivation on the part of the child. I’d venture to guess there will be more children who will find motivation an issue. Psychologically, they’ve always seen home as the haven, the rest place. So this will mean that parents will have to play a more crucial role in keeping their kids on track, and ensuring that this level of engagement is sustained. Plus so easy for the child to start off on the right foot, then slack off. 

           What’s important to accept is that this is our new reality – far more prudent than sending the children to school, crowded classes, and possibly contracting the virus. This will take some time to find its legs, so rather than being the “Negastar” and damning the process right away, let’s understand that we all have to play a part in making this succeed. It will be far from perfect at the outset, but for our children’s future, we have to find a way to make it work, even if with ‘baby steps’ at the outset.

            Mr. “Evil” Knievels: Is it just my imagination, or is there a sudden profusion of two-wheeled modes of transportation vying in the major thoroughfares? Now don’t get me wrong, as I’m all for bicycles as healthier options for getting from one place to the other; and I’ll give credit to how Grab and Lalamove motorcycles are essential during the ongoing pandemic for transporting goods, food deliveries, and the like. But I have some beef with these vehicles, whether they be motorcycles, bicycles, electric kick scooters, skateboards, or unearthed Segways.

             First of all, the ones on these two-wheelers seem to think it’s still ECQ; when admittedly, they were “kings of the road” and could crowd practically every lane, do so anywhere in the city, and go as fast as they could to their heart’s content. With so many four-wheeled vehicles now back plying the roads, the reckless way these two-wheeled vehicles move, is a fatal disaster waiting to happen. And I hate it, as we in our cars, will always be called out for being at fault. Yet, they’re the ones ignoring traffic lights, with a blatant disregard for road safety or etiquette.

            Secondly, why are they on EDSA, and major highways at all? I see these kick scooters on SLEX, and not on the service roads. I even spy bicycles on EDSA. Despite the signs spelling out the minimum engine capacity (cc’s) of motorcycles allowed on these thoroughfares, no one seems to be enforcing this. Do the cyclists think that because they’re not engine-powered at all, they don’t fall under the minimum cc rule? That’s a ‘Duh’ moment on their part; but unfortunately, it’s been like that since I’ve gone back on the road in my car. It’s been crazy, as one really has to be super-alert for them – like the cyclists who are suddenly blind to traffic lights. 

            I’m sorry, I overheard some four-wheel motorists remarking that these daredevils will only learn their lesson through some mishap; but I refuse to be of that mind. After all, what if they were delivering pizza or a cake to my apartment? (Joke!) I just wish the traffic enforcers would realize this festering problem is getting out of control, and bring some sanity back to our roads.