Near normal

Published January 4, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Jullie Y. Daza

Christmas ends on the 12th day, two days from now, with the Feast of the Three Kings. Looking back, it was the second half of December that put us in the merry mélange of a near normal season of anticipated joys, gift-giving, family bonding and hopefulness. Now look where all those “dagsa” events have taken us – back to Alert Level 3, COVID-19 cases rising by the thousands each day as we count (not including the results from a dozen or more labs not reporting on weekends, holidays, or due to typhoon risk factors).

A new year has begun. Take one step backward.

And yet when did a small number like the difference 2 and 3 stop us? No one but the most studious of note takers could tell you without blinking what the difference is between Level 2 and 3, and as for the general public, why bother with the don’ts when there’s enough room to move around with the do’s. Why, even the Department of Health is assuming they can stop issuing their daily bulletins because the 110 million of us have grown so accustomed to the faces of Secretary Duque and Undersecretary Vergeire that life is back to normal, or near it, no need for statistics and updates, we’re grownups, aren’t we?

The biggest sign of that normalcy is the daily traffic on EDSA and the special-occasion rush on weekends, the longer the more special, such as on NLEX and SLEX. According to MMDA, the volume of vehicles on EDSA is now a mere 3,000 under pre-pandemic levels, without telling us that the comparison is unfair for several reasons. One, the number of new vehicles bought during the pandemic means an additional 63,341 units (2021) and 46, 628 units (2020) or a total of 109, 969 young cars on the road. Two, the much-touted time-saving Skyway Stage 3 hasn’t done much to relieve traffic under it. How many car owners can afford to pay toll twice a day? Three, the present volume of vehicles crawling on EDSA and other major roads does not include the cars that would otherwise be ferrying students, teachers, professionals, entrepreneurs, creatives and others working from home, sitting out the new normal that’s now so old hat.