URBAN legend has it that a famous Filipino movie actress from the 1980s told a hanger-on to order “ambience” for everyone sitting around a dining table in a high-end restaurant even if the “item” was not listed on the menu.
Money was no object to the beautiful “bold” star being at the time at the top of her game and a certified box-office draw.
Of course, she had to be politely told that the dish or whatever she thought it was simply did not exist except in her small-town imagination.
Today, she is ribbed about the episode that was really a condescending jab at her ignorance of the ways of the alta sociedad to which she aspired to belong.
Still lovely even if she has gained weight, the actress-turned-politician just laughs the matter off and why not, when she was just 15 or 16 more than three decades ago and evidently clueless about mice and men?
With a little more money, she and the rest of the Filipinos can now order, for their peace of mind, safety.
That is a commodity made affordable, at least for the middle-class, including students and professionals, by so-called transport network vehicles or TNVs that are bannered more prominently by Uber and Grab.
That rides on Uber and Grab vehicles suit only the pocket of a privileged few with extra cash to throw around like coño kids or highly paid call-center agents or IT experts is an indictment of the real, life-or-death danger lurking on the streets of Metro Manila, where the two TNVs have become as ubiquitous as the rickety padyak.
The less financially blessed could still opt for a taxi, that is if its driver is in the mood to pick him up but only after asking him to double the regular fare because traffic is heavy or the streets are flooded and other excuses usually given by extortionists (the Trade department and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board [LTFRB] have paid only lip service to sanctioning taxi drivers and owners guilty of such revolting selectivity and outright flouting of the law).
The same comfortable commutes on Uber and Grab TNVs are also a testimony to the ineptness of bungling bureaucrats in the government agencies concerned that gave rise to the unbelievable number of colorum vehicles operated by the two companies—56,000, according to Transportation Secretary Arturo Tugade.
These vehicles have been running for months without franchises and it was only this week that government functionaries seemed to realize the snafu that they had created.
But the LTFRB is defiant despite obviously defaulting on its mandate to grant these TNVs franchises.
“Who is to clean up the mess? For both Grab and Uber, do not come to us to solve the mess,” the franchising board’s spokesman Aileen Lizada said in a news briefing.
She was practically passing the blame to the transport network companies, or TNCs, for allowing the drivers of their TNVs to ply the roads without franchises when it is the responsibility of the LTFRB to clear the streets across the Philippines of colorum vehicles.
The plot has thickened.
The franchising board on Friday said it has lost the accreditation papers of Uber and Grab.
“Ever since we assumed office last year, we tried to locate the accreditation folders of both Uber and Grab,” Lizada told reporters in a text message, hinting that they were not the custodian of such papers.
“They [the accreditation papers]are nowhere to be found,” she said.
But, according to Lizada, the missing documents will not affect in any way the renewal of accreditation of both TNCs.
“No connection [with the]renewal. The question is who took them [documents]and why?” she said.
Search us because you might get lucky with your conspiracy theory (or buck-passing).
If we got the LTFRB’s drift, the loss of the accreditation papers would mean that the TNVs of Uber and Grab could multiply like gremlins and the board would not care a hoot.
Meanwhile, the riders of the two TNCs could still take the vehicles to their destinations but, God forbid, who would take responsibility if the commuters figured in an accident on board the vehicles that are “legally” colorum?
Well, ordinary citizens can always have their pick of a rock or a hard place.