MMDA’s Proposed Ban and Bane

People are outraged by MMDA’s proposed number coding scheme that is set to ban vehicles plying EDSA for two days instead of one. While the movement seems like a legitimate effort to curb vehicle volume, perhaps the same has not been well thought and apparently costing the administration some points especially with the upcoming SONA. The poor timing does not come as a surprise as people have been well acquainted with the chairman’s pomposity made public in his recent displays in the “Hell’s Gate” issue. The truth of the matter is EDSA is a Hot Gate for motorists and is an expected choke point for Metro Manila’s motorists. While our chairman is obviously in denial of Metro Manila’s hellish conditions, anyone plying through Metro Manila’s main thoroughfares is no stranger to its pervasive lawlessness and displays of human misery. Corruption still prevails as well as the abuse of the strong versus the weak and helpless. In recent days netizens desperately tried to make their point by posting photos of buses holding up traffic at the expense of the common motorist. The problems are obvious however it seems like the middleclass is always expected to bear the weight of inconveniences and losses in productivity.

Early during the onset of the administration, the same middleclass that rallied in support of the “daan na matuwid” lauded at the ideas and promises especially those made by the newly appointed chairman. If memory serves me right, some of these ideas are now being recollected. Some of these include: Banning regional buses along EDSA and getting buses off the quota system. Enforcing the bus lanes and impounding colorums are just stopgap measures that span across administrations and often used to appease the public ad hoc. Certainly there is no sustainability in the latter and it takes a lot of political will to achieve the former. Apparently, nothing has changed and the promised political will remains to be an illusion. Ironically, “Daan na matuwid” could not even keep the buses in their own lanes.

The problem is obviously systemic. Transportation operators are organized and have a huge leverage over our politicians. Our public transportation system is inadequate and remains riddled with allegations of corruption to this very day. While the administration dares to present the traffic problem as a sign of progress, millions of Pesos are lost daily due to losses in productivity caused by traffic and an inefficient public transportation system. The new number coding scheme is certainly a bane to the middleclass but do they really have a choice? The middleclass who is overly taxed and overly charged with the rising cost of petrol, tolls and poor roads continues to be the whipping boy of government, big business and the entitled poor. One thing I do ask of the administration is for them to stop lying to us. The middleclass has had enough!

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Debunking the Singaporean Laksa

Before the Laksa goes by the way of “chopsuey”, I would like to say my piece that I myself had been deceived that the origins of the Laksa (A rich and spicy noodle soup supposedly of Peranakan origins) came by way of Singapore and to the world. It did not come as a surprise, that when I posted my Curry Laksa lunch while working in KL, it prodded a craving for some of our netizens to go the nearest Toast Box in Manila or the nearest Singaporean restaurant. While many tourists and especially Filipinos have been initiated into the world of Singaporean street food, I would have to say that most of what we have seen is more of an audition to the real world of culinary performance that is Malaysia.

Having just recovered from cellphone bill-shock where my addiction to producing instagrammed food-porn had gotten the best of my sensibilities, I might as well make the most of out it by sharing the experience with the rest of the world. The world wherIMG_1261e food is celebrated and no other place does is so well than Malaysia. It seems like everyone there is eating all the time and everywhere. While having spent a month in KL, I came across an article which read: “Wasteful Ways of Malaysian Gluttons” The Star front page article explains that Malaysia produces some 15,000 tons of food daily; the wastage that comes with it is seen to be a problem. Placing gluttony aside, we must marvel at the sheer volumes of food being produced on a daily basis in Malaysia. Within this cornucopia, it is obviously easy for anyone to find something very good, somewhere close and at any given time.

What makes food in KL a few notches above Singapore besides the sheer volumes to work from is a greater sense of authenticity. While I consider SG to be a true cosmopolitan city that provides the most of everything, there is something about Malaysia that is still deeply ethnic. While some complain that the society is overly so, its best reflection could be seen in the food. I stayed in Brickfields where instead of gaining weight, I was actually able to shed a few pounds. With such a rich selection of Indian food, I actually had the choice of eating vegetarian throughout most of my stay. A decent meal would cost somewhere between RM 6.00 to RM 10.00 (Just don’t order the beer). That is relatively cheap even in comparison to Manila prices. The food also allows us to go deep into the country’s culture with choices of Indian (primarily Tamil), Chinese (Hokkien, Cantonese) and Malay. It is said that every region also has its specialty with Penang reaching recent renown. Richly diverse and Richly ethnic!

IMG_1298Could ethnic expression be a bad thing? Certainly not when it comes to food. Not that I am downing Singapore, as a lot of Malaysia have funneled into the once island state. But in the process of funneling, some of the ingredients might have been lost? Perhaps, Malaysia is Truly Asia. Nowhere else better explored but through food. I hope to come back for some more of that Rojak!