Briones: Glass half full

Publio J. Briones III
·3 min read

TO THOSE of you who don’t know, I walk to the office on P. del Rosario St. and back to Urgello after work six days a week.

I’ve been doing that since I moved from Banilad two years ago.

It takes about 15 minutes and it’s a good exercise. That is, if you take brisk strides like me. Just bring an extra shirt, though, because it can get really sweaty, especially during the rainy season when the weather is humid. Like you-can-wring-the-water-out-of-your-clothes sweaty. And you don’t want that. You want to be presentable at work.

One of the good things that happened since Cebu City was placed on lockdown at the end of March is that the walk has become a stroll in the park, if you get what I mean.

The sidewalks are almost empty. There are hardly any obstructions. Unlike in the past when I had to weave in and out of illegally parked cars and itinerant vendors.

Also, there has been a big improvement in air quality. Because there are fewer vehicles on the road, the pollution has gone down.

I remember having to cover my nose and squint my eyes to protect myself from the fumes belched by Jurassic public utility vehicles that plied Osmeña Blvd.

It used to get worse if you found yourself stuck in the middle of the pedestrian crossing across the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 headquarters with all those jeepneys, cars, SUVs and motorcycles whizzing past you.

I always felt bad for the police personnel who were on duty at the PRO 7 entrance or the traffic enforcer stationed at the intersection of Osmeña Blvd. and R.R. Landon St. They had no choice but to stand there all day and all night, at hours on end, exposed to the elements and that toxic smoke. Not all came from vehicles, by the way. Someone in the area used to burn leaves or garbage. That used to be a common practice back in the day but that is banned. I guess, somebody didn’t get the memo.

Of course, I’ve been seeing the glass half full since the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic broke out.

There may be fewer pedestrians on the sidewalks, but the number of homeless has increased since then. I’m talking about whole families living on and off the streets. I’ve raised the subject several times but nobody seems to take notice.

On the brighter side, they don’t look emaciated. They look quite healthy actually. And that means they’re getting enough to eat.

And if you walk at night, especially when it’s late, you’ll also notice the dogs. The strays have become ubiquitous. Although it appears some are owned by the street dwellers because they come barking and lunging at you when you approach their masters’ sleeping bodies.

It’s a disturbing and scary experience for someone who loves canines. It’s also a reality check.