News and UpdatesIn the NewsNo emotion, at least in one place

No emotion, at least in one place

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Valencia has taken emotion out of the equation.

Last year at around this time, I stood in a line-up of people, around 50-strong, waiting to pay our property tax, business tax, or water bill.  Progress toward the wickets was slow, and somewhat chaotic.  Social distancing was out of the question. There weren’t even any chairs left for seniors, pregnant women, or PWDs.

It was hot and exhausting so it was very understandable that our culture of courtesy was severely-challenged. It was pretty much every man/woman for themselves, jockeying for that next small break in the line-up.

But, as is our fashion, everyone handled the situation with great stoicism. Hardly any emotion exhibited other than resignation.

When I was finally around five persons away from getting my turn, one of the uniformed municipality staff members (I’ll call them enforcers) brought to the front a tall, physically fit-looking, tanned white man in his late 30s or early 40s so he could be served before all of us who had been patiently waiting for what seemed like hours.

The enforcer turned to return to his post but had to stop because I said, “Nganong gi pa una man siya? Kay puti siya?”

The reply was, “Ni hangyo kay busy man siya.”

To which I replied, “Kay ngano? Wala’y busy sa mga tawo nga ga hulat diri?!“ I wished afterwards that I had spoken in English so the white man would understand.

He was oblivious to the exchange, though not those around me, with murmurs of “Bitaw!”, “Bali ra pud!”, “Bastos gyud na sila!”, “Abi lang kay puti?”

I had a flashback to my Valencia COVID-19 vaccination experience of being bumped a few times because enforcers would let white old men jump the queue.

This year, I prepared myself for a similar long chaotic wait to pay my property tax.  I kept saying to myself, Remain calm, it is what it is.

I was blown away in that I discovered the municipality had implemented an electronic queuing system, much like what is used by many banks.

An agent recorded my arrival, and gave me a piece of paper with a code. An overhead screen allowed us to check our progress toward the next available wicket.  No fuss, no muss. Orderly, no moving from chair to chair to get closer to the wicket counters. No one jumping the queue. No preferential treatment, and thus, no emotions.

Except for saying in my head, “Thank you, Valencia, for taking emotion out of the equation.”

And an intriguing fact: No one milling around the area with their outstretched hand waiting for a hand-out. Another moment of thankfulness.

Unlike what it’s like when I’m back in Dumaguete.

As an example: Within seconds of parking to wait to pick up someone using an ATM, a young boy around 12 came knocking on my window, begging.  A team of three, taking turns running up to anyone pulling up to do banking.  And unfortunately, receiving something most of the time from waiting drivers.  Hard to keep one’s emotion at bay.

Why are we encouraging kids to choose begging?

I know it’s easy money in Dumaguete, effortless, and requires limited thinking.  But these kids may likely end up begging for the rest of their lives.

What are the impacts to our society if we have a higher-than-average number of beggars on the streets? It’s bad enough now as it is.

On a totally different note, my appeal to the adult population that we help our youth achieve their goals to better our society resulted in one adult stepping up to the task.

 

Diana Banogon-Bugeya (She/Her)

DianaBugeya@gmail.com

 

 

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