Road safety on spotlight after viral spoof on Taft Avenue crossing

April 4, 2024 - 3:56 PM
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St La Salle Hall_Taft Avenue
St. La Salle Hall of De La Salle University along Taft Avenue in Manila in this image capture by Google on March 2023 (Image from Google Street View)

Filipinos highlighted pedestrian and road safety after a spoof post by a student paper for April Fools’ Day about crossing Taft Avenue earned flak from some online users.

A user on the X (formerly Twitter) platform saw one of the spoof posts uploaded by The LaSallian (TLS), the De La Salle University‘s student paper, on Facebook which poked fun at the students’ reliability on security guards in road crossing.

The post came from a spoof album uploaded by the TLS on April 1 with the title: “Painting With Light: I’m a Lasallian, of course….”

One of the posts featured an image of students crossing to the other side of Taft Avenue with the aid of a security guard from the university holding a sign for motorists.

It had the text: “of course we can’t cross the road without kuya guard.”

The satire, which is posted for the Lasallian community, has earned 13,000 laugh reactions, 6,900 shares and over 940 comments so far.

It made its way to the X platform, where a user aired a negative comment about the students’ supposed inability to cross the road on their own, which the user said was a “basic” thing “the average Filipino does.”

“Peak pinoy private school humor is literally just ‘I can’t do basic everyday stuff that the average Filipino does (laughing emojis” t**ginang ‘yan,” the user wrote.

The X user’s post has earned 5,100 reposts so far, with some Filipinos pointing out that pedestrian safety is a serious issue on busy roads in Manila such as Taft Avenue.

“Imbes na pagtawanan sila for having that initiative for the safety of not just DLSU students, but also other pedestrians, why not just call out the traffic system and advocate for safer pedestrian lanes,” Ralph Abainza, founder of science organization ScienceKonek, said.

“By reiterating that crossing dangerous roads is just a ‘basic stuff that the average Filipino does’, people like these are just reinforcing the belief that our dire traffic situation is JUST normal and we need to live with it,” he added.

“Set aside the humor, personally, I feel reassured whenever DLSU guards help us cross the roads. Aminin na natin, marami ang ‘di sumusunod sa batas trapiko at hindi humihinto sa pedestrian lane kahit naka-red light na sa Pilipinas,” a Facebook user said.

“I’ve been there — around 9 p.m., ang bibilis na ng takbo ng mga sasakyan around that area and ‘di talaga humihinto (unless may guards there). It’s not about ‘LACKING’ of basic life skill — it’s more on implementation ng batas at pagsunod sa batas trapiko that [people] are reassured na they can cross the road safely, even without kuya guards,” the user added.

“People generally find any excuse to hate the rich (or the people they think are rich), even when unwarranted. We wouldn’t need crossing guards if we had more disciplined motorists,” a user on Reddit said.

A former writer of the TLS also weighed in on the post, stressing that it was a “joke.”

“There is nothing belittling about having a crossing guard,” Matthew Gan said.

“Many heavy foot traffic areas benefit from them, especially because drivers here can’t seem to stop for people crossing and can’t seem to avoid blocking said crossings either,” he added.

“And a lot of people outside of DLSU aren’t aware that Taft Avenue crossings have crossing lights, which the guards usually follow. So, in most cases, students are actually following the crossing lights, and the guard is just helping,” Gan continued.

Others also shared other supposed incidents and some of their own experiences with motorists in the same area.

“[To be fair], may nasasagasaan nung 2022 na student, I’m not sure if na paralyze o na comatose. After that incident, may guards na nag-guide sa pedestrians kasi maraming kamote [diyan],” a user said.

“Also, I’d like to add, last December, ‘yung guard from CSB (College of St. Benilde) na nag-guide tumawid sa kalsada eh, nabundol ng sedan. Me naman, muntik na mabangga sa tapat ng DLSU. Malapit na ako sa gitna ng kalsada ng may motor na dumaan sa harap ko. Red light ‘yun at palingon-lingon ako on both sides,” the user added.

“Motorists don’t follow traffic rules. Was heading to VC (Vito Cruz) station from LS (La Salle) hall and saw two motorcycles go past the red light at around 9:00 p.m. when the guards weren’t there,” a Pinoy on Reddit said, referring to the LRT-1’s Vito Cruz Station.

“There are a number of students na na-aaksidente dahil sa biglang harurot ng mga sasakyan once the light go green. My boss (has been in DLSU for over 20 years) told us that there (have) been deaths due to this. So yeah, there’s a reason behind marshals along pedestrian lanes,” another Redditor said.

“Like the others have mentioned, it was because of the number of accidents that have already happened. But (to be honest), even with the guards, reckless drivers don’t stop. I was crossing the pedestrian in (Henry Sy) once and was almost hit by a tricycle that was going too fast and didn’t bother stopping,” wrote a different Redditor.

“I appreciate the guards so much, dati, kahit naka-stop na, may jeep na humarurot past the stop light. Almost got me!!!” another Pinoy exclaimed.

A 2014 feature by TLS already pointed out the “pedestrian issues” along Taft Avenue.

“When students take alternate commuting routes, their safety is at risk as soon as they alight their chosen transportation means. Most jeepneys and buses do not stop at the proper loading and unloading areas and cars don’t give way to pedestrians even if the stoplight is red,” Gabriel Hipolito and Bianca Suarez wrote before.

“If they do stop, they usually cross over the pedestrian lane, forcing commuters and pedestrians to walk through the maze of cars,” they added.

“Although there are guards stationed at each pedestrian lane in front of the campus, many vehicles ignore their signals and rush past them. Paolo Gonzalez (II, BS-CHE) attests that the guards manage the flow of traffic along Taft Ave. well, but despite their efforts, not all drivers are law-abiding,” Hipolito and Suarez said.

Taft Avenue is one of the busiest roads in the City of Manila since several universities are located along the major thoroughfare like DLSU, DLSU-CSB, University of the Philippines Manila and the Philippine Christian University.

There are also government establishments in the area like the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the National Bureau of Investigation.