Marked by modesty   


Jullie Y. Daza

Having been liberated by the downgrading to “moderate risk” of Metro Manila as a COVID magnet, what was there to do but jump in the car – my own “bubble” – and see for myself what I’d been missing, scenery wise, for nearly two years.

This is my verdict. Once you’re on Skyway Stage 3, you’re free as a bird -- no traffic as promised. It’s getting on the elevated Skyway, maneuvering through stop-and-go, stop-stop traffic on the streets below, that’s the problem. I spent more than 30 minutes avoiding being edged out by buses, the new kings of the road. With their size and insistence, how can you in your compact car not give way to them?

But once you’ve shaken them off on the multistory-high expressway, it’s a ride that’s almost too good to be true. City driving with the feel of highway speed driving: what a strange feeling. Even more strange, every single light bulb along the long, smooth drive from start to finish is lighted, forming a garland of lights that could circle half the NCR! Thank you, Ramon Ang, for not running to be president of the Philippines. Thank you, Mark Villar, for making Build Build Build look as fun as a Lego project.

The trouble with Mark Villar is that as a technocrat for the last five years, he never once blew  his horn. As a senatorial candidate now, he’s not learned how to advertise his formidable achievements. Who is Mark Villar? Yes, he’s the 40-something son of the richest Filipino, Manny Villar, and the richest member of the Philippine Senate, Cynthia Villar. Yes, he headed an army of engineers that constructed expressways, ports and airports, quarantine facilities, classrooms, evacuation centers, etc. from 2016-2021. So what? Engineers are not known for their gift of glib, and Mark won’t be so loud and brazen as to grab credit from the national government’s claim of Build Build Build as a Duterte legacy, so where does Mark Villar fit in?

When you listen to the noises and voices parroting some magnificent candidates’ vow to deliver the people from poverty and injustice, from corruption and hopelessness, stop and think. If action speaks louder than words, who’ll speak for the low-key, unassuming Mark the silent worker?