by BLESS AUBREY OGERIO
I WAS 19 when I fulfilled my long-time dream of legally driving a car and obtaining my license.
It was the typical midnight drives and fun road trips, getting the most out of my freedom. But as I drive along the journey of growing up, hitting 405 becomes less fun and more of a responsibility, especially when I am about to experience another unpleasant surprise at the local gas station.
Getting from one place to another would be a hassle if it were not for my motorcycle and four-wheeled APV car. Be it an important school event or a spontaneous hang-out, the privilege of this comfort has kept me away from Metro Manila’s traffic congestion.
Until the slow traffic started to roll, followed by the constant checking of the gas tank, and finally getting frustrated when the tank reached from close to being empty—which happens frequently.
It was a headache for me when the average retail price of one-liter gas had already amounted to about P80 compared to last year, when it was just approximately P50. Despite the recent rollbacks, it is still not much of a help to my tight budget as a struggling college girl who chose to live independently but needs to still practice being practical.
I need to change my driving habits, which I once found therapeutic but is now causing me stress.
During the peak of the Russia-Ukraine war, which affected the gas prices in the country this year, I relied on public transportation: jeep, train, and bus. I once again encountered a crowded space.
This kind of transportation system gave me yet another terrible experience, but who am I to whine when other commuters are more exhausted and have longer travel time than me?
When it’s really hard to find a ride, I would sometimes think of riding a taxi, but it would take me a minute to decide since it does not really fit my budget and mode of transportation. I only ride taxis occasionally, often carpooling with strangers to save money.
I also began to prefer staying at home instead of going out, especially if it is not urgent or just a leisure activity in the midst of my busy schedule, which somehow helps me avoid wasting my savings.
From the point of view of a journalism student, news stories about fluctuating fuel prices have been added to the list of topics that interest me. Unfortunately, this new interest has become my series of relief and dismay as a consumer as well.
Even those who do not have an idea how to pump the clutch or change gears are also affected by this issue. It is surprising to pay extra for transportation due to the rate increase. When we purchase things and goods online, it is frustrating when the delivery charges are expensive.
With all of these produced, used, and delivered using fuel, the hassle of everyday life will show us why we should care even without having any desire to drive. Really, the world’s demand for oil is rising, and not just simply because of some people’s odd fantasy for fast cars.
Gas prices have fluctuated for years, and the Philippine economy and many ordinary Filipinos suffer whenever they hit a new high. Instead of constantly subsidizing the transportation industry, the government might instead authorize a fair fee increase and stop depending on gas station discounts.
Every component of the fuel value chain that affects fuel pricing must be extensively examined, and alternatives must be explored if any component is found to be costly. There must be a reason for every peso paid.
As the gas prices are out of my control and seem to be telling me that it is impractical to rely on driving as a comfort, hitting the speed is not always therapeutic, especially in this economy where the “control” depends upon the reluctance of higher-ups to listen to drivers’ and commuters’ pleas. F
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in Vol. 58, Issue No. 1 of the Flame. View the entire issue through this link.