By Jullie Y. Daza
In spite of or because of the traffic, it was a productive day for Vicente “Bimbo” Mills. In the morning, his company was a participant in the presentation of models of the modern jeepney. In the middle of the day, he was a guest along with a merry bunch of Japanese executives to inaugurate Hino Motors Philippines’ fifth dealership in Manila, the one of Leo Lei (also of Nissan and Suzuki) on UN Ave.
Hino produces trucks and busses of all sizes and customizes them according to the client’s specs. Last year, they sold 4,000 trucks – that many from just one assembler? It’s a positive sign, pointed out Mr. Mills, “of the boom in construction and logistics.”
A small, no-frills truck is priced about the same as a French or Italian designer bag, handmade for the very few, done in leather, for ladies with rock-solid credentials and an “aspirational” desire for status. Comparing a truck with a handbag is comparing apples and oranges, but how much work is a pretty purse expected to perform? The point is, if luxuriously priced fashion accessories are aspirational, perhaps trucks ought to be inspirational, i.e., capable of inspiring profits, progress, prosperity, peace. (Is that why communist rebels, as soon as they spot a truck or similarly mechanized equipment on a farm, have to scratch the itch by torching the farmer’s workhorse?)
As traffic progressively builds up with trucks jacking up their delivery of tons of goods for Christmas, they will have to follow the MMDA’s prescribed schedule of 9 p.m.-5 a.m. I don’t mind sharing the road with them as long as their wide-awake drivers know their job and their clunkers are checked for brakes, tires, fuel, water, batteries.
Will the sale of new trucks aggravate the traffic? If that question is meant as a left-handed compliment, Mr. Mills’ reply is that every new truck replaces an old, unroadworthy relic that was imported into the country as a hand-me-down of doubtful parentage. Like birth-and-death statistics, one decrepit specimen should give way to a fresh new one full of promise. The same should go for jeepneys. There’s nothing a new generation of them won’t reassure passengers of more comfort and safety, with or without those horses on the hood.