BACOLOD is christened to be the "City of Smiles." The festival of Smiling Masks, or the “MassKara” which symbolizes Bacolodnon’s resiliency through time. This City will be known in history as the city of smiling people as it emerges from the pandemic with "Balik Yuhom" (return the smiles) on the faces of each of its residents. Indeed, the smiles returned and brought a jubilant atmosphere after lockdowns and quarantines brought about by the pandemic. The Bacolodnons once again painted their faces with “smiles."

The people of the city have always been known to see the brighter side of many things. The Bacolodnon could always rise from any tragedy and could even find fun and joy in a tragedy. He understands the nature of life. He can always find a positive side even in the most negative situations. He could always wear a smile on his face. Unlike many of his counterparts, they are too bitter and are always too critical and analytical, seeing only the negative in things. These are people who fail to enjoy life.

Anyway, amidst our smiles and laughter, we are confronted by many inconveniences. Traffic, basura, skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, lack of transportation, water, and health problems. These are the monsters that we face daily in this City.

Let us talk about the traffic in the city. There is a population explosion of vehicles in Bacolod and they breed like rabbits. If this needs to be appropriately addressed, the traffic jam might become a problem after a few months. What took us ten minutes before the pandemic is now tripled or quadrupled. What is the problem really in traffic? One study done outside of "planet earth" showed that the leading causes of traffic are a mismatch of road and car ratio, incompetent traffic enforcers and too lenient road rules, multifunctional highways and road construction mismanagement. Many might disagree but surf the net, and you will find more reasons. So, how could we solve the problem or these causes? Simple, we need to have a political will, and we need to study the traffic. It is only there and then that we can bring back the natural smile on each face.

The Bacolod “basura" (garbage) menace is a significant problem for the environment and our health. Who segregates their wastes? Who follows the waste segregation ordinance? Has there been a person or company who has been penalized? I hope we will not reach the point where we all go to prison for not segregating our waste. We point fingers at everyone but have we done our share? We can always blame the trash collectors and everyone in the Public Safety department for non-collection but the poor collectors are doing their jobs.

Scarce basic commodities? Economics taught us that the rise in demand increases prices. The increase in use would result in a decrease in supply and production. Is there a problem of supply, or are some already hoarding commodities? Subsidies, relief packages or dole-outs are just band-aid solutions, and they do not go to the essence of the problem. The problem is only a few complaints. The rest of us are complacent and are content with it. Do we still smile at this?

Lastly, coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is still around the corner. This is not a local problem but a global one. We cannot simply put on our masks and throw away what we have done for the past two years. No one is spared from this disease. We need to strengthen our defenses and stop smiling. This is serious, and we will have serious health issues soon. Stop smiling and start thinking of long-term solutions.

Let's stop pointing fingers, take off our masks, and do things right. The honeymoon stage is over. We cannot arrest radicalism by simply entertaining people with virtual shows and empty promises. Sit down and work.*