All public railways were opened free to the public during the inauguration of President Noynoy Aquino. I took the opportunity and rode both the MRT and LRT to work. Half of me wanted to take the scenic and leisurely route, and the other half being practical in avoiding the original route that would have gone through the elliptical road where the traffic-inducing variety showesque inauguration would be held.
Yes, I found myself lost half of the time traversing through unfamiliar walkways. But it was easier with only time as the cost of the misadventure. Aboard the LRT going to Katipunan station, I thought about how this is how public transportation should be: free and free-flowing. I imagine this is how it’s going to be once the Philippines qualitatively leaps into socialism, where transporation flows on schedule without the delays caused by drivers dragging the minutes to maximize their race against their boundaries.
Drivers in socialism would be paid just living wages and benefits to drive on schedule.
I remember the struggle internationalist scientist Joan Hinton and her agriculturist husband Sid Engst experienced in their participation in the socialist construction of Mao’s genuinely socialist China. Transportation and communication back then went via donkeys. Terracing slopes for rice fields were ground-breaking discoveries. Warmth and comfort when sleeping at night was achieved with the use of kangs, beds that were actually bed-size mud ovens with cowpile cookies burning below them to produce heat.
Today, we have the internet and other networking systems for efficient data travel from the grassroots up and back again. We have automobile technology coupled with roadways for efficient travel and delivery of goods. Even the mattress, a perk that we often overlook, is abundant. And yet we’re faring far worse economically and politically when compared to China’s years of socialist construction, great leap forward and cultural revolution.
For what dictates the effective social capital of any technology is people’s access to it. Therein lie the connections between seemingly disjointed technologies: the transportation, communication and public highway technologies benefit only the few who have cars and can afford the fuel, or have internet access anywhere they go, or sleep on a pile of futons and cushions.
Free rides, free information and comfortable beds are privileges and promos today. Let us look forward to a future where these become freedoms the people enjoy.
Everyone is invited to “Remembering Joan Hinton”, a tribute prepared by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, International League of People’s Struggles, AGHAM and Gabriela offered to one of the most sterling examples of science in service of the people. It will be held today, July 6 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon Avenue. For more details, here’s the invite.