Let’s get going!

Published October 23, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Jullie Y. Daza

For days on end, TV correspondents could not get over how parents and their tykes swarmed Manila’s Dolomite Beach because the children had to have their fresh air, outdoor exercise, and liberation from 19 months of cabin fever.

Adults who had been feeling the same sense of deprivation took their cars for a spin – with their windows down, if possible – to experience the great outdoors from the point of view of DPWH’s grand and long and smooth, mostly new highways. Four adjectives strung together, sure, but there’s no other way to describe the adventure in this short space, given that there’s North and South to cover.

Off we went then, starting on Skyway Stage 3 – can we just say Skyway 3, without making it sound like a disease? – with Baguio as the destination. QC’s Quezon Ave. flyover is the starting point, after which the oldest expressway, NLEX links up with SCTEX to take you all the way through Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union before hitting Marcos Highway’s zigzag.

SCTEX is newer than NLEX, but that’s not important. What’s memorable about this part of the trip is that, at least two weeks ago, the Tarlac portion of NLEX was abloom with talahib, not a flower but a weed, a grass, but oh what a beautifully useless sight, feathery white plumes swaying in the breeze, hectare after hectare looking like rivers of snow melting in the sun. Look left, look right, they’re a presence to affirm the gift of nature’s unstinting abundance.

Three days later, our destination was Silang in the South. Again, the starting point was Skyway 3, this time from Mabini bridge to Plaza Dilaw before hitting the steel ramp. From there, 23 km of smooth sailing on four wheels until the SLEX Mamplasan exit. Overhead, a sign read CALAX, followed by the Santa Rosa exit. I was not born to be a navigator – geography is not germane to my thinking process – so it was good to land at night on the more familiar Aguinaldo Highway.

Do expressways save time? Long ago when my children were children, Baguio was a four-hour drive; it still is. Going to Tagaytay used to take 1:40 to 2:10; essentially this hasn’t changed. What’s true is that time is relative.