[caption id="attachment_266" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Images from an MMDA Facebook fan page"][/caption]
There's something about Bayani Fernando that incites emotional reactions in men. I noticed this when nine out of ten comments in my previous blog post were either violent reactions or--well, they were mostly violent reactions.
When Fernando moved on to pursue higher political dreams, his departure no doubt left a vacuum that we will feel in our everyday motoring lives. There will be no more radical ideas, pink fences, and we will no longer be greeted by his ominous visage reminding us to follow the law.
Things will certainly be different. So here are the top 10 things I will miss about Bayani Fernando's colorful tenure in the MMDA:
Yes, I'm not a big fan of BF (to say the least), and while I admit his term as MMDA chairman wasn't all bad (I definitely agree with payments being paid directly to Metrobank instead of the enforcers), it was tainted by the man's hubris.
Allow me to explain. Like Vernon, I used to be a fan of Fernando. I admired his willingness to come up with new solutions to persistent traffic problems, and I was impressed at his resolve in clearing up sidewalk vendors and squatters even if these people were potential voters in the future. I thought, here was a man who did what he thought was right even if he became unpopular.
Then I noticed a troubling pattern. With each project or plan he introduced, be it new u-turn slots or wet rags, he made sure they were known as his projects and his ideas. That raised a red flag inside me, but I let it slide. Give a person his due, right? Then while I was in the MMDA premises doing research for an article, I felt an odd vibe among the personnel. We were discussing the then newly-installed rumble strips along EDSA, and the MMDA people said they were called 'giggle bars' for no other reason than it tickled Fernando's fancy to call them 'giggle bars' instead of the universally understood term of rumble strips. And to paraphrase one of them, she said, "pag sinabi ni Chairman (that's it)".
Then the posters started appearing on the main roads, and I saw buses with 'Bayani' stickers on them. This was two years ago, way before the start of any legal campaign period. I didn't like this at all. His posters were supposedly reminders to follow traffic rules, but they were also to make us remember who implements the rules. Why does it need to be his face? Why not more signs, more safety billboards, or even just paint the roads with solid and broken lines so we will know once and for all what the hell swerving really is?
My father told me that your work should speak for itself. There's no need to keep reminding people that you deserve credit for what you did. And if indeed he was working to improve Metro Manila's horrendous traffic, isn't that what he's there for?
The final straw came when I went to Tuguegarao for a road trip in 2008. For those of you who've never been to that area, it is a twelve-hour drive up north from Manila. Along the roads in the province, where there was probably one house every five kilometers, I saw posters of Fernando on the electric poles. I actually forgot what was said on the posters because I was amazed that he would brazenly put pictures of himself more than 400 kilometers from his jurisdiction.
Looking back I can't plot the exact timeline of how I went from respect to good riddance, but over time my view of the man certainly changed. Yes, he will do what he thinks is right even if it's unpopular, but he also seems likely to get what he wants because he doesn't give a damn. There's a word for men who do what they want without consideration for others.
It's a shame. He could have been a leader we could use right now.