"Here are some small triumphs"
After months of this pandemic punctuated mostly by problems and controversies, it is heartening that as we are about to bid goodbye to a most challenging year, we are getting a bit of good news.
For one, the DoH and the UP OCTA Research Group are now saying that we have breached the COVID-19 transmission protocol after registering a 0.8 rate, signifying a downward trend after nine months of lockdown. With this development, we can now look forward to further opening up and, hopefully, a more livable new normal.
Coinciding with this good news is the report that after almost a decade of inexplicable delay, the North-South connector road otherwise known as the Skyway Stage 3 has been completed. With the completion of this 17.9-kilometer structure, traveling from the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) all the way to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and vice versa will now be faster. Motorists will be avoiding the hassle of toiling through the traffic gridlocked EDSA which for years has been the only passageway across the heart of the metropolitan area.
Save for a few finishing touches, the project owner, SMC Infrastructure, advised that seamless travel between the two major expressways will be open before the end of the year. By that time, motorists can travel from Balintawak to Magallanes in just 20 minutes instead of the usual EDSA ride of almost three hours. All other points in between from these end points (there are five entry/exit points along the way) will, of course, take a shorter time.
This alternative passageway to EDSA, programmed for construction towards the end of the GMA administration, almost got sidetracked during the PNoy years as the competing expressway owners, the MVP Group which took over NLEX from the Lopez’ and SMC Infra which took over SLEX from the Citra Group, battled with their competing versions of the connector road. It was only after the road connecting NLEX to the pier area was green lighted that the construction of this now completed Stage 3 from Balintawak to Magallanes got approved.
Still, a lot of challenges got in the way. As construction works were ongoing,the original alignment had to be revised at the Sta. Mesa portion as the DPWH was unable, despite huge effort, to secure the promised right-of-way. The proponent had to divert work and build on the San Juan river with a cost overrun in the billions of pesos. Then, as it was about to complete works by April this year, the pandemic set it on top of a fire in its depot in Sta. Mesa which slowed down activities almost to a halt.
With the easing of restrictions, construction work went on overdrive, leading to the project’s completion this month. Unless some other bureaucratic issues come out from now up to opening day, this engineering feat will surely be a boon to an economy which has to restart fast enough to avoid getting deeper into recession.
Finally, this month also saw the triumph of two of our young athletes in their respective sports. Tennis sensation, 14 year old Alexandra Eala, just climbed
up the world junior rankings to number 2 just a notch below France’s Elsa Jacquemot who beat her in a classic semi-final match in the just concluded 2020 Junior Tennis Championships held at the Roland Garros tennis complex in France. The duo overtook erstwhile front runner Andorra’s Victoria Kasintaeva who dropped to number 3. This feat has brought the Philippines back into the world’s tennis map after a long drought of 27 years having been last represented in the girl’s draw at the World Junior Tennis Finals in 1993.
A product of the Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy, Eala’s climb to the ranks of junior tennis in the world has not been without challenges. Just recently, her parents advised the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) which belatedly offered to provide some funding support after getting wind of her continuing success in the tour to just give the money to some other athlete more in need of support. Apparently, they have had enough of the bureaucratic runaround which continues to hound that sports agency.
In another world record beating performance, 30-year-old Cebuano sensation James de los Santos is out to get his 10th gold medal this week as he gets into the semi finals match in the Golden league E-Kata tournament. If he gets the gold which experts believe he will after capturing two gold medals in his last E-Karate campaign de los Santos will most probably overtake current world number one Eduardo Garcia of Portugal.
These developments going into the tenth month of the pandemic provides a ray of hope to our increasingly battered spirits. It encourages one and all to shoulder on, stand up and overcome all the challenges which this invisible enemy has brought into the land. We can and we will move on.