Formula 1 in Davao

Posted: June 30, 2007 in All and Sundry, Random Observations, Rants

Imagine being in a Formula 1 race, not just a spectator, but one of the passengers of say, Schumacher, riding in a flaming red Ferrari traveling in mind-blowing speed. The car swerves, snakes around the track, wheedles it’s way between two cars without slowing down, overtakes on a blind curve, and goes full gear on a long stretch, you’d wonder if its brakes would still work when need arises.

Imagine riding this car almost every day. But this time, not on a Formula One race track, where there’s a pit stop, a team of mechanics and medical experts always prepared to save you once your car catches fire or hits another car. This time, you’re in Davao City, traveling its highways and narrow two-laned roads that just recently installed functioning traffic lights to supposedly regulate traffic.Welcome to Davao City, the city where taxi drivers are akin to Formula One racers, who are sometimes, drugged out, trippin’, and simply just drivers working for bucks at the fastest rate possible. Where the lines “I feel the need, the need for speed,” are appropriated to maximum literal contexts.

And I thought my life would get easier once the traffic lights were installed and running. Unfortunately, the lights gave these “formula 1” drivers enough reason to run a red light. Nowadays, I’d often dread the journey from SM (where I usually spend a few hours for dinner to relax after a stressful day at the University) to home in Mintal as it has suddenly become very difficult to choose the right taxi that doesn’t become road-crazed warrior in especially the highway from Ulas to Mintal. I wouldn’t have mind the speed these drivers decide to take if not for the company we have to keep along the way–six-by-six construction trucks, buses, and other passenger vans. If the roads are empty for us to lord over, then go ahead driver, speed up.

Just recently, I have suddenly acquired this acute sense of dread and anxiety every time I ride a taxi home. When the car starts revving up, my heart begins thumping, my lungs constricts, and I’d begin hyperventilating. A grab bag won’t even do the trick of calming me down. Once, I had to shout at the driver to stop, then I literally jumped out of the cab because I was about to faint because of hyperventilation. I wonder how I got these traumas anyway. What irks me most is that the reason why Nino and I usually ride the taxi home is because we want to relax along the way. It is but fitting to cap the night, after a wonderful relaxing meal in Antonio’s or Pancakes or Igloo, with another relaxing cab ride, where there are no other passengers squeezing in the seats with you as in jeepneys. But these days, I feel like I’d rather ride the jeepneys home instead.

Jeepney drivers aren’t absolved of the crime of being speedy Gonzaleses here. But I realized in my demented thinking that I’d feel so much better if I ride with other people (about 20 of them) to Deathsville. Somehow, even when the jeepney is swerving in full speed on the highway, I don’t feel a sense of dread because it’s comforting for me to be around other people, experiencing the danger of possible road accident. I don’t hyperventilate. Sometimes, I can even enjoy the ride as I’d feel the cold wind blowing my nape once the jeep speeds up. Unlike riding taxi cabs, riding jeepneys here don’t feel like being in a Formula One race. It just feels like a race.Period.

The point is, I’d rather watch Formula One on TV than be in it.

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