Saturday, November 11, 2006

Future shock... from YOUNGBLOOD of

By Maria Pauline V. Apilado
Last updated 00:46am (Mla time) 11/11/2006

Published on Page A15 of the November 11, 2006 issue of the Philippine
Daily Inquirer

IT'S three o' clock in the morning, and I suddenly wake up with all
the answers to our country's ills. They're not your typical run-of
the-mill remedies. In fact, they're more like several doses of shock
therapy, so brace yourself for my prescription.

Strolling in the halls of my alma mater a couple of days ago, I
noticed how almost every student seemed to dress like a regular
fashion model -- tops, bottoms, belts, lunch boxes, you name it. Then
it hit me: I had found the solution to the city's "billboard crisis"
in the aftermath of typhoon "Milenyo" as well as the declining quality
of education in the country. Why not have all fashion designers' and
retailers' new merchandise showcased in elementary and high schools
and especially on college campuses? That way, the designers will save
on advertising cost and have their goods displayed in public even as
young people feel the need to actually go to school to see the latest
fashion. Anyway, in most industrialized countries nowadays,
educational institutions have become the new haven of big-name fashion
houses and advertisers.

And where should educators send schoolchildren for their annual field
trip? Oh, that's a no-brainer, I tell you. I was on my first visit to
the largest mall in the country, when I saw pint-sized, primary school
kids being herded into neat, little lines by their teachers, parents
and guardians. How inspired that idea was to adopt counting how many
branches of the same fast-food restaurant can be found inside the
mall, analyzing its design schemes and navigating one's way through
its numerous stores as lessons in mathematics, art and geography. The
people who run our museums or manage our educational and cultural
heritage sites will have to be a little more imaginative and
market-savvy to retain their share of young visitors. Otherwise,
shopping malls are going to be the only places that shape and
challenge the minds of our young people.

How do we solve our unemployment problem? We will have a win-win
situation if we hire unemployed people as traffic aides. With
megaphones and in uniform, they will have the exclusive responsibility
of guiding pedestrians and reminding us of traffic rules and signs we
don't read anyway. The rest we can always employ as street sweepers
and assign to every street in the metropolis. That way, their presence
will be a constant reminder of how lazy we are to just be throwing
candy wrappers, fruit peelings and junk-food bags on the streets
instead of into the nearest trash bin.

How can we drastically reduce traffic in our key cities? One, city
folk can work on rotating shifts, like the workers in our call centers
do. Two, our lawmakers should pass legislation outlawing those bulky
SUVs and luxury vehicles and encouraging the use of that ubiquitous
Italian mode of transportation: the lithe and compact two-wheeled
Vespa. Small wheels fit small streets nicely, don't you think?

Oh, and the authorities should look into the possibility of
permanently assigning bus and cab drivers to drive the Metro Rail
Transit trains. Then these drivers from hell might learn not to cut
into another lane suddenly, not to pass other vehicles on the right
lane, not to make sudden stops and turns as an added bonanza to the
privilege of driving the fastest hot rod in Metro Manila.

Finally, what do we do with our government? Simple: Let life imitate
art. Reality TV shows are the way to go. Since everyone wants to have
his 15 minutes of fame, actor-wannabes should be in government so they
can have all the interviews, debates, sound bites and scandals they
want. The thing is, since we take pride in our country being a
democracy, we dutiful Filipino citizens will have to boot out of
office those who don't do their jobs well. We've had a lot of practice
before, anyway.

"A personal perception of too much change in too short a period of
time" is how sociologist and futurologist Alan Toffler describes
"future shock" in his controversial 1970 book of the same title. Isn't
that better than not getting anything done because of our so-called
"mañana habit" of delaying action until the very last minute?

For me, crazy times call for crazy measures. Now, let me go back to sleep.

Maria Pauline V. Apilado, 28, is a freelance writer.

Copyright 2006 Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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