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Story Publication logo June 8, 2017

Looking For Happier Endings

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The sign says, “No crossing. Deadly.” Walking in Metro Manila can be hazardous to one’s health: 57,877 pedestrians were injured or killed in the megacity from 2005 to 2015. That comes out to about 15 people a day. Image by Dinna Louise C. Dayao. Philippines, 2012.
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Every hour, someone dies on Philippine roads. Every day, 28 people don't make it home alive. In a...

Ateneo’s solution: Build and maintain a network of wide sidewalks. Take care of old trees so that their canopy can shield the people who walk from the elements. Image by Dinna Louise C. Dayao. Philippines, 2017.
Ateneo’s solution: Build and maintain a network of wide sidewalks. Take care of old trees so that their canopy can shield the people who walk from the elements. Image by Dinna Louise C. Dayao. Philippines, 2017.

I collect stories with sad endings. It’s hardly by choice, but every hour, someone somewhere in my country, the Philippines, dies in a road crash. And in order to write my road safety articles, I need to put a face to that person.

That someone could be a mother who was walking home after bringing her child to school; she was run over by a truck driver and died on the spot. It could be a father biking to work; his life was cut short by the driver of a speeding SUV. It could also be a bunch of teenagers, out on a joyride that ends in a fiery crash.

They are some of the road crash victims I’ve “met” in writing my road safety articles. I never had the pleasure of actually shaking their hands. Still, I share their stories to honor their memory. Until recently, their tragic endings were the only images in my mental photo album.

Thankfully, I got an eye-opening assignment. I was asked to write feature articles about people who are acting to make the roads safer in their communities. I found two bright spots in the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Quezon City and in Iloilo City.

Strolling on the tree-shaded sidewalks on campus was fun. I enjoyed the fresh air and watched students of all shapes and sizes make their way to their classes and hang out with their friends.

And biking in Iloilo’s protected bike lane was a breeze. It felt good to know that no one in a motor vehicle could encroach upon my space and hit me.

I am grateful that this assignment led me to look for solutions to my country’s road safety problems. I am on the lookout for more bright spots to write about.

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