AT LAST another Christmas season has passed.

We “enjoyed” the usual hustle and bustle brought about by the season’s traffic. All roads were filled to their volume capacity as all traffic led to shopping malls, party venues, and parks. I enjoyed watching people walk around to check out the tiangges and ukay-ukay stalls around the city. These offered the biggest bargains and widest array of gift items.

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Restaurants, carinderias and cafes were filled with families who shared their meals with friends and relatives. Parks were packed with families wandering around to enjoy the festivity of lights and sounds of the season.

Traffic congestion here is nowhere close to the traffic we experienced in Metro Manila. I remember the times when I missed my plane bound for Davao despite the three hour travel allowance we gave for the normally one hour trip from Quezon City to Pasay. Such is the traffic congestion in Manila during December so I think we do not have the right to complain about the ten to fifteen minute traffic delays we endure here during holidays.

While many grumble about the traffic congestion, I yearn that this number of people and vehicles on the streets would be the norm here in Davao City. Do not get me wrong here. I am just saying that I hope that in the near future we can have this healthy economic environment where our local citizens will have enough extra income to spend eating outside, buying in the various malls and visiting our various recreational parks and resorts. I always think that urban traffic congestion is not necessarily that negative since it may also mean that more people are now on the move to avail of the various attractions and life styles of the city.

Speaking of changing urban lifestyles, I think housing developers are now feeling the desire of the market for a lesser travel time between their residences and workplaces. We now see medium- rise condominium units and town houses being constructed near the central business district. I suppose that the growing traffic congestion along national highways of the city is now becoming a disincentive for homeowners to seek land far from the city center.

A week ago, I had the chance to stay at Sandy’s condominium unit in Cubao and I admired the location’s centrality because it was just walking distance to Araneta Center’s Gateway. Now imagine living in residential areas that are just walking or biking distance from a major commercial center where work, leisure and services are very accessible. Gone will be the need to ride a tricycle, jeepney or a car just to go to work. A short and healthy bike ride is all that it will take to be at your office or the mall. The less need we have for motorized vehicles the less traffic congestion we will have in our city streets.

Speaking of tricycles, have you noticed the proliferation of tricycles in the downtown area come night time? These are not your regular tricycles, rather these are the colorum or unregistered tricycles and motorcycles crowding out the taxis and AC jeepneys legally plying their routes. I hope that the authorities will do something to protect our legal public transportation system and the public against these unsafe and illegal modes of transportation. These illegal means of transportation may be the fastest and cheapest way to get to your destination but they are also the easiest way to meet your creator.

Celebrations and festivities are accompanied by the increased number of road accidents involving drivers who were driving under the influence of alcohol. Our laws against drunk driving are still very weak, I hope some legislator will be brave enough to make drunk driving a criminal offence and not just a mere traffic violation.

Street vendors enjoyed brisk sales from passersby; I hope that the temporary structures that they set up to accommodate their large inventories will be dismantled after the season. They are now occupying both sidewalk AND part of the road reserved for parking. Perhaps, the city can consider relocating them to the various vacant lots abound the downtown areas or maybe do a time sharing scheme where street vendors will be allowed to occupy certain streets only after six in the afternoon.

The Christmas season allows us a peek into what Davao City’s woes would be in the future. It is about time that we put in place the necessary road infrastructures, transportation management schemes and zoning that will ensure that traffic here will remains bearable and efficient.

A Happy NOY Year to All. rpalabado@gmail.com