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HONORING MY MOTHER | Closing the canal




LAST week, as my son backed his car up a bit too near our wall, it got stuck when the left front wheel fell in the open canal. Had to implore the assistance of five neighborhood local muscles to eventually push it free.

As my son doled out a hundred fivers for their much-needed help, we thought that just like the rest of the whole neighborhood, it’s about time we close our side of that “waterway” down for good.

In the Philippines, the open canal still remains as one of the most overlooked marks of the overall street system. For one, ‘overlooked’ in the sense that if one were not careful enough, you could fall into them roadside traps.

And two, overlooked, as in largely ignored by past administrations as just another one of those improvements that you ticked when you needed to attract more votes come election time.

However, be it in slum areas or low-to-middle-class suburbia, the open sewage system has been part of the local canvas since senor y senoras. Now, with the phenom of more vehicles on the road and the growing need to park them in (particularly in mid-class suburbia where the probability of having homes with garages is almost like a contradiction), sealing open canals in these areas have become quite commonplace.

As my neighbors justify the accepted practice, it increases the width of the street, thereby making for a wide berth, so homeowners can still conveniently park beside their homes and at the same time not block the road for others. Particularly for us low-cost housing dwellers, the problem of narrow streets has thus become a thing of the past, thanks to this.

However, as a rule, we had decided when we first moved here that we would refrain from keeping up with the Joneses and refrain from cementing over our own side of the street’s canal. Well, until my son’s recent acrobatic attempt, that is.

While a bit grudgingly counting the move as a part of unplanned home improvement, we were doubly taken aback by the cost of the present day’s labor and materials! Is this for real? It almost feels like groggily coming out of this pandemic wormhole and then discovering that things have indeed changed drastically.

From the year nineteen kopong-kopong’s price tag of five hundred bucks for a day’s work, the local handyman we contracted had now charged us a cool two-K for the same duration. I need a wide berth indeed, to park my surprise or gullibility, and as my favorite Johnny Mac would say, “You cannot be serious!”

Still, that is just the way it is I reckon. Often, we have to all accept whatever comes, no matter what. In this case where subdivision rules that the canals be kept open, I am pliant as can be.

Who knows, perhaps in the future, I would be most willing to reopen my side of the street canal. Definitely, that would be the day when my son has perfected his parking technique. Until then, you could say that this would be an open-and-shut-case once we get there.

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