‘Wag daw kami magreklamo?’: Comic strip validates commuters’ plight

July 14, 2022 - 5:07 PM
Passengers board a bus at the Edsa Carousel busway in Monumento, Caloocan City on Wednesday morning (July 13, 2022). (PNA photo by Joey Razon)

A Filipino cartoonist-satirist called attention to Metro Manila’s worsening transport crisis after a Twitter post was perceived to downplay commuters’ everyday woes. 

The return of on-site work and classes has caught public transportation short-handed in its services, with the government unable to extend most of its free bus ride services after July 31 due to depleted funds.

The transport department also recently announced that the free LRT-2 services would only be limited to students. This will run from August 22 to November 4 this year.

Cartoonist ZACH on July 13 posted an comic strip that illustrated long lines of commuters snaking down the sidewalk in the color red beside congested traffic in blue.

Meanwhile, a visibly empty skyway, driven by a single private car, was shaded in yellow. 

(Facebook/Cartoonist ZACH)


The commuter’s dialogues also borrowed familiar lines from the viral Twitter post that reacted to a news article on commuters’ lament about longer waiting hours in exchange for the free bus rides. 

The original tweet reads: “Libre na may reklamo pa. ‘It wastes their time.’ Wala namang pumipilit na yan ang sakyan ninyo. Pwede namang sumakay sa ibang mode of transportation.”

READ: Commuters air dismay over ‘libre na may reklamo pa’ post about EDSA bus carousel 

In response, the comic’s first tile showed bumper-to-bumper traffic and long passenger queues, where a commuter looked above the empty skyway and asked: “Sino lang ba ang mga nakinabang nito?”

Transport groups have long contended with former President Rodrigo Duterte’s legacy Build, Build, Build project pumping P8 trillion into infrastructure.

During Duterte’s term, infrastructure spending hit a high 5.9% of the gross domestic product (GDP), exceeding the usual 5% of GDP. 

But only 12 out of 119 infrastructure flagship projects (IFP) were completed by April this year, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways. This amounted to P70.65 billion or 1.4% of the P5.08 trillion total cost of investments to complete the 119 IFPs.

Transport groups have since urged the government to focus on public utility vehicles, active mobility and commuters in their bid to improve transportation. 

While the government offered free bus and jeep rides for a limited time, the comic’s second tile saw the same commuter saying the “Libreng Sakay” service is not a long-term solution to the worsening traffic problems. 

Move as One Coalition previously flagged the “Libreng Sakay” program as “short-lived.”

The coalition said that the program would quickly deplete the P7 billion budget of the government’s service contracting program, where public utility vehicle (PUV) operators and drivers were being paid based on their number of weekly trips. 

The groups also cautioned that the program would decrease transport supply, with fare-based PUV drivers halting their operations due to skyrocketing fuel prices and commuters more likely to mob the limited “libreng sakay” vehicles.

The third tile retorted to the remark telling commuters to look for other transport since they were “not forced” to endure the long queues. “Pero may ibang choice ba kami?” the comic reads. 

By the last tile, a fatigued and teary-eyed commuter was seen asking himself: “Hanggang kailan pa ba na palaging ganito?” 

As the comic strip was widely shared on Facebook and Twitter, Filipino commuters could not help but share their grievances, such as the lack of public transportation and the hours-long waiting time. 

“​​When my partner was working in [Quezon City],  5 pm yung out niya. Pero around 11 pm-12 a.m. na siya nakakauwi ng bahay (Cavite). Kung maswerte, nakakaupo sa bus. But on most days, halos 6 hrs na nakatayo, siksikan. Next day, gigising ng 4 a.m., para hindi ma late sa 7:30am na work. Tsk2,” one user tweeted

Another online user said the comic reminded him of his student days: “Man, the struggle is real. May times na maiiyak ka na talaga kasi gustung gusto mo nang umuwi pero hindi ka pa makauwi, either mahaba ang pila or wala ka talagang masakyan,” he said

Other Filipinos were quick to point out that the viral Twitter post pinning the blame on frustrated commuters did not help address the root cause of the transport problem.

Instead of romanticizing Filipino resiliency, some Filipinos said that commuters should be able to freely complain for the government to take action. 

“Hanggang saan ang pagiging matiisin ng Pinoy? let’s stop glorying ‘resiliency’..and realize that we are suffering with the incompetence of our government,” one user tweeted.

“Until the [Philippines] is ready for public servants, we are stuck in this endless nightmare,” a Facebook user commented.