(The original of this piece was written last March, when they started digging up our roads again. The diggings in the Land of Hukay-do are now in full swing, as if there’s no other public works project except destruction and repair of roads, and that there’s nothing to comment on this time of every year outside of this annual infrastructure recurrence. – RD)

MY COMMAND of the written word gets spotty each time my blood pressure shoots up, as it does with all of those road diggings being done again so they can be repaired again. I’m not alone in this predicament of loss, even if the those implementing projects tell us now and then that we are not engineers and therefore are not competent to decide whether a seemingly smooth and stable road needs “re-blocking” or not.

The added feature this time is the embedding of culverts to prevent flooding and erosion of our national roads, some of which were re-concreted or “re-blocked” a couple or three years back. This means putting the cart before the horse, as the roads are being dug up again, not because they need repair, but for the wisdom found on the need to finally install the culvert drainage pipes. After that, the road has to be re-concreted again.

We welcome progress, but not when a public works project is done and re-done and re-done almost every two years. Engineers of the city told us the road leading to City Camp from Mt. Crest Hotel was concreted by the city almost 40 years ago. Since then, it has never been re-concreted, yet commuters have yet to complain of its quality.

The same concreting work was applied also almost 40 years ago to the road to Quezon Hill. Unlike the City Camp Road, however, it was converted into a national road, giving way to its re-concreting and subsequent “re-blocking.”

Hypertension hit that time they obliterated that old sidewalk along Leonard Wood Road, after the Teachers’ Camp bridge towards the Botanical Garden, to give greater room for cars to maneuver. Historically, the American founding fathers built the sidewalks, knowing pretty well that Baguio was made for walking because of its temperate climate and scenery.

For as all who grew up here, Baguio was made for walking.

The point, as Dr. Peñalosa, former mayor of the highland city of Bogota, Colombia noted is that a city is made for people, not for cars. He went on to say that throughout history, more people were killed by cars than by wild animals in the forest.

To fill space while I calm down, here’s my parody about all those diggings. It’s inspired by “Mountains of Mourne,” an Irish ballad written by the 19th century musician Percy French. The song was revived by Don Mclean as centerpiece of one of his records. I wish folksinger and weekly paper editor Alfred “Pacyay” Dizon would belt it out one of these nights:

“Oh, Alfred our streets are a terrible sight/ With people all working by day and by night/Sure they don’t sow potatoes, nor cabbage, nor beet/ But there’s gangs of them sinking jackhammers in the streets.

“At least when I asked them that’s what I was told/ So I just took a look at this repairing of road/ But for all that I find there, I might as well be/ Where the dug-up gravel don’t sweep down to the sea.

“I believe that when writing a wish you expressed/ As to know how the contractor would have it pressed/ Well, if you’ll believe me, when asked to a “bull” (session, that is)/ They don’t put enough blacktops to press at all.

“Oh I’ve seen them meself and you could not in truth/Say they were bound to their quality mixes and all/Do write a column or editorial piece, Alfred dear/ About their diggings being swept down to the sea.”

In the same vein, we dedicate a parody by Ogden Nash of Joyce Kilmer’s poem about trees to adult groups who have installed permanent billboards inside Busol. The forest definitely does not need any of these intrusive signs that, in the eyes of children who were working there years earlier but hardly put up their own signs, degrade, rather than exalt the names and reputations of their companies:

“I think that I shall never see/A billboard lovely as a tree/ And if those billboards do not fall/ I shall never see the trees at all.”

Twenty-four years after the doctors told me I was a sugar magnate without a hacienda, the complications of having too much glucose in the blood have began to set in, triggering my recent medical rest. It’s something one wouldn’t mind, until the daily print of what you have to pay comes as naturally as your daily paper subscription. To the credit of the medical centers, the cost is unbundled or detailed, including P20 for the use of a pair of scissors.

I’m turning 65 soon, yet can claim being of sound mind. Still, the medical staff in two of three hospitals I checked in recently would not have me sign the note of consent for me to undergo surgery for the installation of a new fistula on my arm and for an endoscopy to check on my ulcers.

In a policy I consider discriminatory to my age group – and supposed stature as a senior citizen – my consent signature was not honored for the test and implant surgery. My nephews Joseph and Marian had to sign on my behalf, as if they were the ones to undergo the twin procedures.

To no avail, I told the medical staff that His Honor, Mayor Mauricio Domogan, is four years my senior yet he’s the only one authorized to sign documents relative to official matters affecting the city.

Whatever, I’m grateful to the doctors who did the procedures pro bono, true to the friendship we established way back. Now that I am still of sound mind and have the time to say it, my gratitude also goes to those who felt the need to be there, waking the patient and prompting Dr. Josephine Laza-Luspian to have a nurse install a “No Visitors Allowed” on the door. Young jail guards Maribel Pedro and Milagros Biniahan also took time to offer their blood to replace two bags transfused.

A call from a Baguio lady who is no stranger to humanitarian work was most uplifting. Quietly active in community service for years here, she had to seek medical care abroad, enabling her to survive a rare form of cancer.

“Talahib tayo, Mon, kaya mahirap mawala,” she said. (e-mail: mondaxbench@yahoo.com for comments)