Road 20 is always occupied like any other street in Metro Manila. From the interesting things people do while waiting for their tricycle rides, to the dogs and cats roaming freely or carefree kids playing. Sometimes, you can see cars or taxis being parked or people just gathering around pushcart stalls of fruits or street food, sharing conversation, a man smoking around the corner and people are doing their morning routine.
At the corner of Mindanao Avenue everything is picking up as students and workers rush to catch their rides. Tata Pedro, a lean, agile, gray-haired traffic enforcer stands in the middle of the first lane unfazed, directing all approaching vehicles with the same determination as he has for past two years.
Eric, a bespectacled caterer travels to work everyday. Sometimes he finds it easy to catch a bus ride; sometimes not. Buses are more frequent but you have to be tough to jostle your way passed other clambering commuters. If you do not want to look tired and smell stale, ride an FX (a minivan taxi).
Jessie is a taxi and FX barker, has been for two years. He shouts out “SM” as an FX arrives heading to the mall. His friend hails a cab for a lady and as he opens the front door for her, the driver hands him and Jessie a tip.
Another traffic enforcer Mang Ramon, a jovial guy with a mustache reminiscent of a famous Filipino comedy actor is also out. He sways his arms, points at a car and signals it to go in one direction and moves from left to right like a dancer. A former chief traffic enforcer of the district, he has been doing this for almost ten years. In that time, directing traffic has become more challenging now that vehicles going to and from the North Luzon Expressway access this thoroughfare. Traffic-related accidents have been too numerous to count and people like Mang Ramon put their lives at risk everyday standing in the middle of the road for the motorist’s convenience.
This is a seemingly mundane location but not if you look carefully for this is the story of one Road 20 morning.