Grace and the MRT challenge


There was a time I liked Senator Grace Poe. I thought she was smart and fair. She didn’t seem like a pushover, or a woman who would fall into the trap of Pinoy macho politics and politicking. She was far from seeming like a trapo with traditional politician moves.

And then she took the MRT.

Free MRT endorsement
This is the oldest trick in the politician’s book, isn’t it?

I grew up watching politicos having some shellfish to prove there’s no red tide in the sea— never mind that too many had already been poisoned. Recently Food Security and Agriculture Modernization Secretary Kiko Pangilinan appeared on TV with three different kinds of rice in three different rice cookers. He partakes of some NFA rice and says it is now fit for consumption.

Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Jun Abaya took the train to prove to the public that it is safe. Senator Poe took the train too and concludes that there is hope for the MRT: “I believe the MRT is not a hopeless situation. The government just has to step up its effort in the proper maintenance of the trains and the stations.”

Uh, we could’ve told you exactly that Senator Poe, este Citizen Poe, esteRunning-For-2016-Poe. In fact the public has been telling politicians like you and this government exactly what you concluded upon riding the MRT one way, from North Avenue Station to Taft Station, on a trip that was two hours and ten minutes in total (including the time you spent queuing up).

There is nothing new or extraordinary about what you discovered, and it’s easy to see that the only thing gained from this experience of yours is . . . some political pretty points.

Because you are the only thing that’s different in that picture of MRT hell that the public paints, Senator Poe, and with you in that picture things actually look up for the horrid MRT service that the public suffers every day.

One wonders if you realize that. That as your PR team suggested you take the train, or you thought to take the train and take some photos to prove that you did, that you would be the perfect poster child for MRT commuting, providing the train with the endorsement it needs.

“Pleasant” is far from the way the public would describe getting on that train. But Senator Poe’s image on the train is a gift that will keep on giving.

Once does not mean anything
And then there’s just the fact that spending an hour and a half on the train, and 40 minutes in line to get on it, is far from experiencing what the public goes through every day. Let’s see what it is that Senator Poe did not experience when she fell in line to get on the MRT on Friday, at 8:20 a.m., the height of rush hour, the press spin tells us.

She did not experience the rush hour commute to the MRT station: the long walks, the fighting with or harassment from cab drivers, the tricycle or jeepney ride to the nearest stop. She doesn’t know of how it feels to arrive at the station and find that long line. She does not know of how it feels to have to climb those long flights of stairs to get on the train’s platform, which remind of how badly planned this train was to begin with, and how it did not take the public’s safety and comfort into consideration.

Senator Poe did not experience having to wake up three hours before she needs to be at the office, just so she might make it in time for the bundy clock, and not lose some of the salary she works hard for. She did not experience falling in line for the train with so little sleep, because it took forever to get home the night before – be it on the train, or on any other public transport that traverses EDSA.

Senator Poe did not experience trying to get on the train for an urgent appointment, finding that the wagon reserved for senior citizens, women, and persons with disability full, and being forced to get on that train for everyone. She did not experience the utter fear of getting into a wagon filled mostly with men, and realizing its danger only upon feeling all eyes on you.

She did not experience having to get out of that wagon, and deciding instead to get on a cramped women’s wagon, that one where there is no kindness, just suffocation.

Senator Poe did not experience traveling on the MRT at night, so she might see how badly lit it is and how scary it can become, with no sense of security or safety. She did not experience needing to pee, and finding that the toilets are far from being safe or clean.

She did not experience getting out of the station at night, to be met by an EDSA that is dark and scary and is devoid of any sense of security, too.

Messing with our minds
The idea that Senator Poe—or any politician—can ride the MRT once and feel what it’s like for the public is so false, one knows it’s nothing but a political stunt.

A trapo political stunt, to be exact.

But Pinoy social media is so ready to be enamored by Senator Poe—or so desperate for a semblance of a “new” politician maybe?—that it now thinks her the yardstick against which all other politicians must be measured.

Please lang. Any politician— and I say any one of them—can go on a joyride on the MRT.

Now living with the MRT and public transport, the unsafe roads and streets that bring us from our homes to the train station to our offices, with no air-conditioned car waiting at our destination station to pick us up, is something else. Living with streets where women are harassed by the every-manong, where the choice everyone makes is to be unsafe on a bus, or unsafe on the MRT. Where public transport is a risk that one takes.

THAT is the MRT challenge. Anything less than a month taking the train and doing the commute, to and from work, is nothing but baloney. Senator Poe’s stunt included.


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  1. Poe said the MRT has promise. It can be better. So what’s wrong with that for goodness’ sake? You talk too much, stringing together a whole caboodle of ugly scenarios that you go through and blaming it on her? Poe at least is optimistic and all you see is doom. Maybe you should live somewhere else where the trains are always on time, there are no lines to buy tickets, no smelly people riding in super-crowded buses, etc… etc..If you are so disgruntled, then get out. Out! Out! Go live in a first-world country! Hambug!

  2. EPAL
    (dumb/stupid Electioneering)

    PUBLIC SERVANTS (Elected or non-elected Government officials) should not be allowed to use Media (free or paid publicity?) to his/her benefit, claimed credit for public funded projects, and for simply doing his/her work (public service).

    Display their name/image/likeness on signs/billboard (in public places) or media (T.V., radio, newspaper, tabloid, social media, etc) in furtherance of their political careers.

    Premature campaigning/publicity (good or bad) of public officials or people aspiring for public office engage themselves in activities aimed to furthering their political ambitions before start of campaign period (Election 2016).

    1. Grandstanding EPAL
    Mar is obviously grandstanding or seeking to attract favorable public & media attention. Rice shortage, price increase and illegal business malpractices maybe a ploy to further his political ambition to be President.

    He wasted his time to shine (show his real worth) during Yolanda Tragedy (real challenge/pressure) where he failed to excel & impress people (poor performance) as proof of Tacloban poor condition until now.

    2. Sympathy EPAL
    premature campaigning and media publicity gain from :

    a. alleged/accused crime/detention (Jinggoy & Bong)

    b. recent personal or family tragedy- a death is enough to trigger sympathy vote.

    Either/both Ramon Revilla and/or Joseph Estrada death may catapult either/both Bong Revilla and/or Jinggoy Estrada to Presidency/Vice President.

    c. Anybody who is physically ill (True or fabricated/imaginary?). will get sympathy, well wishes, attention/free publicity and people may go out of their way to help you (if Legit, it’s understandable) specially if it’s terminal as stage-4 cancer. (Miriam)

    Politics is the art of deception.

    It’s more about making the public believe half truths and lies to gain votes. Politicians will stop at nothing for power and wealth,

    3. Celebrity EPAL
    By using…

  3. To us filipinos, I guess this kind of ads in public is not new in everyone’s eyes. We are certain that Senator Poe’s ambition is to continue what her father’s dream of sleeping one day in Malacanang Palace. Maybe she has her own way to seek our attention for public admiration whether it’s an old trapo style or new social media propaganda. Riding once or twice in MRT, LRT, EDSA Buses, Jeepneys or any PUV is not a gauge of telling the whole nation of the problems or issues at-hand to make us fool. The problems at-hand are not for being Senator Poe or any politicians a political figure. We must all remember that we are responsible for what they are now. We must all remember that in Politics, there is no permanent friend, no permanent enemy, but only one that is permanent … their ambition to become one. A politican or government figure. We must all remember, that we are responsible for bringing them to where they are now. What I am saying, is that, after all these years, who’s to blame for what they say or show to us in public ?

  4. I’m waiting for Ms Valte and Lacierda to take MRT going to the office and back.
    The next day it would be Trillanes and Cayetano’s turn. Media coverage is not allowed
    of course. We will see how they feel the majority of the citizens are suffering on a daily basis.

  5. Yes, the timing may be suspect, but I wouldn’t dive into conclusions as to her real motives for the MRT ride challenge, It could be 2016, or it could also be that she genuinely wants to contribute something to the legislation… but it’s most likely both.

    You see, each politician is almost bound to be trapo, it’s in the system. The process of selecting public servants is through having the most number of votes. Basically it’s like a popularity contest. And how to win popularity contests…? Your guess is as good as mine… be popular!

    So even if their motives are great and they really want to serve, they will still have to go through the system… because otherwise, they won’t be able to get the position that they want.

    To eliminate TRAPO is easier said than done… for as long as there are TRAVOs (Traditional Voters)… TRAPOs will thrive and continue to multiply.

    If we don’t want TRAPOs… let us not be TRAVOs our selves.

    • Let’s go for charter change and put requirements for those running in elections. Make tax payers who file income tax returns be the only ones to vote.

  6. Folks, give Ms. Poe a break! At the end of the day, she is one of the VERY FEW in Congress who is able to put in an honest day’s work there.

    You want the MRT fixed? Then, stop griping and put together protests a’ la EDSA I – III. That seems to do the trick, every time.

    Writing angry diatribes only makes the pols turn the channel.

  7. I agree with writer. Sen. Poe should watch herself. Big compromises start with small ones. Please dont listen to your B.S. advisers. People are more intelligent these days.

    • Katrina, what is your problem with Poe? You are asking her if she has experienced all the unpleasant things you mentioned riding MRT. How about you? Did you? Or you also simply write based on stories of other people. I believe being a writer you belong to one of well paid people in MM and you have your personal / company car to travel every day.
      You call it political stunt. And this article is journalist stunt.
      If we want change then let everybody on board if they want to. You could be suspicious of everyone and think that you alone is the righteous one.

  8. Katherine Pelgone on

    Etong si Sen. Poe palaging nag pe play safe sa mga sagot at batikos sa administrasyon. Hindi makabanat ng todo eh.

  9. Katherine Pelgone on

    Etong si Sen. Poe palaging nag pe play safe sa mga sagot at batikos sa administrasyon. There is hope in MRT daw?In your dreams,senadora!

  10. I don’t know what you are writing about. Do you think it is better for our legislators not to ride the MRT? I think it is better for all of them to experience the MRT and set a plan for improvements. Let them gather first hand experience. Our congress is in need of experience in what the public needs.

  11. i agree with the authour that the real situation can be assessed if the senator will “Commute” for at least one month. however, i salute her for at least taking 1 ride to check what is wrong in our MRT system. She may not be able to assessed the hardships of daily commuters but she was able to determine some of the problems of the MRT, the basic need, such as elevators and ticketing system.

    I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt. maybe she wanted to experience the “experiences” of the daily commuters so that she may have something to contribute in the policy making.

  12. Surely, that MRT ride of Poe is a trapo stunt for 2016.

    And please, Filipinos, let us be more judicious in selecting our leaders.

    But on the MRT issue, what is really bothersome is the fact that the government is always cominG up with plans to do this and that for the MRT.



  13. What i have been saying for a long time now is make all politicians & public officials use the same public transport everyday that we the public have to use. Then & only then will something change. You see in their ivory towers they dont suffer this, even the traffic congestion doesnt bother them as their driver has to cope with it all. Also as they use public transport if they are late then deduct the time lost from their salaries. Show them what its like & then give them warnings if they continue to be late they will be fired. That will mean like the rest of us they have to get up very early & start off for work very early.
    Now to grace poe, did you notice the security guard keeping people away from here so she wasnt getting pushed & poked. They are treated like royalty. Stop it, they arnt rooyalty, they work for us the people, or thats how it should be.

  14. victor m. hernandez on

    Yes, a daiy commute via train or bus along EDSA is an ordeal that working men and women experience. It’s an ordeal really. We’re talking here of rush hours: going to work in the morning, and going back to home in the evening. It’s an ordeal. My Saturday evening trip via MRT was an exception. Thank God it’s Saturday. So, let’s see how politicians make the MRT experience ‘pleasant’ during rush hours on working days. The endeavor is compliated, and not easily solved. Senator Poe’s optimism and Sec. Abaya’s hope for the MRT are admirable. We can always pull our hair over this issue, but nothing much can be done about the rides being ‘pleasant’. Whether in the Philippines or in Japan, rush hour train ride can never be pleasant. But hope springs eternal. Or ‘Wish ko lang’. My ultimate wish is Decongest Manila, Build new towns and cities where you can work and live, as if you are in Singapore, the best city to work and live. We’ve got to pay the price for it.

  15. I’d rather she went through it before the hearings. 0f course, given 0ur high level 0f cynicism – it may be a pl0y. But I wouldn’t read t00 much int0 it. The public is served better by legislators wh0 d0 g00d h0mew0rk and analysis. I mean, this is n0t about that one train ride. It’s ab0ut what y0u assert and pr0p0se, in behalf 0f the public, in that hearing. Y0ur might have overly reacted. Abangan!

  16. Benjamin F. Cardinez, Esq. on

    I always have doubts about the sincerity of this woman. It seems she has thrived on smoke and mirrors from day one, I agree the MRT ride was nothing but a cheap stunt for the usual gullible crowd. If she was sincere, she could have done it without t.v. cameras following her around -perhaps even incognito. But no, she wants to be president and “finish what her father started”, doesn’t she?