Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Of Ferns and Tollways

On Chipeco Avenue, that road fronting the new Calamba City Hall, there’s a small vegie stand there (the only one so far) that sells edible ferm everyday, from mid-morning to late afternoon.  Of course, if you buy at mid-morning, you can be sure that the fern is still fresh (as in very brittle or crisp), but in the late afternoon it’s a little wilted (medyo lantutay na) although the vendor keeps reminding his/her buyer that “it’s fresh.”  I find this a very interesting entrepreneurial case study.

When I started out in rural educational radio broadcasting many years ago (circa 1968), I recall having explained on air many times the advantages of eating fern (pakó, not páko – which is nail) as vegetable.  The UPCA was then promoting it as food.  Many don’t know that fern is edible.  Of course, not all ferns are edible.   We’ve been able to influence a few to try it.  How do you cook it?  Many ways.  You may just blanch it and squeeze lemon or kalamansi on it and a pinch of salt.  If you want a more elaborate cooking ritual, cook it in coconut milk, with squash and crabs.  Or mix with scrambled egg for an omelet.  Or simply, cook it in garlic and cooking oil.  It’s green, it’s natural, you can’t go wrong with it.

I have wondered how the vendor thought of this venture.  Jegs and I talked to the vendor one time.  It turns out, there are a number of them sharing the opportunity to sell fern in the same place.  They have arranged it in such a way that there would be only one vendor per day.  That’s good, simple “Memorandum of Agreement” right there printed in the air but followed to the letter without the assistance of lawyers.   Just plain common sense and the old concept of pakikipagkapwa.

The vendors, we understand, simply go to the mountain and pick those ferms, free, of course.  They bundle them in almost the same sizes.  Each bundle costs P10.  I’ve always bought three or four bundles at a time.  Now, the pile of fern on the small table by the roadside looks like there would be no less than 100 bundles.  That’s a cool thousand bucks for merely picking some leaves in the mountain and standing by the roadside to offer passing motorists pakó.

Do they pay fees for permits from the Mayor’s Office?  The more appropriate question probably is: how much are those vendors paying who?


The new tollfees in the ACTex are now imposed.  Many are complaining, but many are simply not talking about it anymore.  My point of view is not that important, but if you ask me, I’d say: if you don’t want to pay the high fee, just don’t use the tollway!  That, of course, is the economics of the whole thing (this is a build-operate-transfer project).  We all want good roads.  Well, we must pay for good roads.  No one will build good roads for us free.  We have to pay.  You’re willing to pay but not this much?  C’mon, be truthful at least to yourself and not show off your irrationality.  You know that right now you’re enjoying a non-stop, traffic-free drive from Alabang to Batangas City.

Thing is.  I’m game as far as this is concerned.  BUT, keep those roads smooth.  Huwag na huwag ninyong hayaang magiging lubak-lubak.  And while we’re at it, how about providing lights on the stretch of Star Tollway from Sto. Tomas to Lipa City.  That road is pitch dark at night, which makes it dangerous zone for motorists.  It’s a lonely stretch during daytime as there really is no traffic there.  Of course with the completion of the Calamba-Sto. Tomas connecting road, there would be more traffic all the way to Batangas City.

Now, when are they starting construction of the Sto Tomas-Lucena Tollway?  To our friends along that route, expect some build-up of traffic that could last a good ten years.

Welcome to 2011, the era of the tollways.


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