There are highway heroes as there are SCTEx villainsBy Tessa R. Salazar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Two sides of Philippine motoring were revealed last week. On March 20, highway heroes (Bayani ng Kalsada) from across the country gathered in Makati to be given due recognition. On March 22, an executive of a car distribution company was injured while on the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) after a rock hurled at the car she was riding in shattered and penetrated the windshield.
For Iloilo Tricycle driver Christopher Fonclara, three wheels were enough to rush four victims of a road mishap to the hospital.
One evening, while en route to UP Miagao in Iloilo, Christopher witnessed an accident involving a truck and another tricycle. He rushed the most severely injured to Gimbal Hospital in Iloilo, then went back to help the other victims. Two of them survived.
For his deed, Christopher was declared the Bayani ng Kalsada National Champion during the 6th annual Bayani ng Kalsada Awards Celebration at Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Manila. He was one of five outstanding motorists whom tire company Goodyear Philippines recognized, for “having demonstrated heroism on the road that benefited strangers.”
For six years, Goodyear has sought the most remarkable among the hundreds of nominated motorists who had gone out of their comfort zones to help others on the road. This year, winners were given cash prizes, and a package bundle from Sentro Negosyo and Petron. The top five were chosen from the 12 finalists from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and the National Capital Region.
Aside from the five heroes, a medical doctor, Lorraine Marie Badoy, was given a special award for being the first responder to a motorist who suffered a heart attack.
The other 2012 Bayani ng Kalsada finalists were: taxi driver Glenn Arcilla, for Luzon; jeepney driver Rolando Bocaya Carullo, for NCR; jeepney driver Roel Limen, for Mindanao.
The other heroes given recognition were: Luzon finalists taxi driver Jessbill Nada Navarite, motorcycle driver Richmond Gallego Valdez; NCR finalists motorcycle driver Junar Ogbiena Jacosol, private driver John Christopher Reyes King; Visayas finalists taxi driver Rener Avila Alemios, tricycle driver Arel Naldoza; Mindanao finalists taxi driver Ramil Andao Teh, and jeepney driver Pilardo Espiritu delos Reyes.
But if there are highway heroes, then there are villains who go out of their way to hurt others on the road.
On March 22, Mercedes-Benz brand manager Grace Enriquez, along with two of her colleagues and motoring media offroad specialist Beeboy Bargas, was Subic-bound from Manila to prepare for a road safety activity.
As the Jeep Wrangler she was riding on was about to pass the overpass of the Dinalupihan exit of the SCTEx, what witnesses presumed was a youngster threw a tennis ball-sized rock at their vehicle, which was running at 100 kph. The rock shattered and penetrated the windshield at the side of the front passenger, where Enriquez sat.
Fortunately, the rock didn’t hit Enriquez, but the shards of glass caused abrasions and minor cuts on her face, arms, neck and chest. She was rushed to Baypointe Hospital, where she received antitetanus shots.
On the ambulance and in the hospital, Enriquez learned that kids throwing rocks at cars on SCTEx was not a rare occurrence.
And rock throwing has happened in other highways, as well. There have been documented cases of injuries to persons and damage to vehicles caused by rock throwers along C5 and STAR tollway. A few years ago, motorists along NLEx complained of similar incidents.
Sadly, one rock-throwing incident has resulted in tragedy. On Feb. 19, a 12-year-old boy who allegedly threw a rock at a car passing on SCTEx was shot and killed by the unidentified motorist.
In a Feb. 21 interview in “TV Patrol”, the boy’s playmates narrated they were just gathering spiders by the side of SCTEx, when the boy decided to throw stones on the highway. Then one of the stones hit a passing car, which stopped. The boys then remembered seeing an individual alight from the car and start shooting at them.
The gunman was not identified. According to the report, the shells of the bullets have been sent to Camp Crame laboratory.
As millions of Filipino motorists go out this Holy Week to their own destinations, it would be good to ask themselves who they would rather be, the good samaritan or the one who cast the first stone.