Wednesday, May 16, 2018

One Asian Driver

   I got my first license to drive in the Philippines in 1979.  I did not go to driving school.  How did I pass the LTO test?  The guy who handed me the test paper must have noticed my anxiety.
   “Just put your name on it.  Don’t put any answer.  I’ll do it for you for PHP300,” he whispered to me.
   I have never appreciated corruption like I did at that moment.  I discretely slipped the money into his hands.  I passed the test with flying colors.  I was proud of that license.  Per capita, fewer Filipinas than men drove back then.
   I got my fair share of fender benders.  Even the best trained, well-schooled drivers got ticketed, got bumps and scrapes.  Did I drink and drive?  I was 26 years old.  What do you think?  

  Some US states have had drunk driving laws since 1911.  The Philippines never had one until the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013 (Republic Act No. 10586).  We had bars with dance floors in Makati City.  I drove from there alone all the way to Imus, Cavite, anytime between 2:00 am to 4:00 am.  I was never pulled over by police.  Apparently, as long as I didn’t hit anything or anybody, I was good.  I did not get in any accident drunk, not even a minor one.  It turned out, I was a better driver drunk, after all I was suicidal, not a sociopath.  

   Fast forward to 2006.  I arrived in the US with my Philippine driver’s license that had been many times renewed with a clean record of no ticket nor accident.  Here, I felt a bigger appreciation for corruption.  I gave the policeman pocket money for every ticketing incidents.  Accidents were settled between parties without documents.  That Philippine license earned me the privilege of getting a US license without a written test.  Someone with international license required only driving test which I passed on the second try.  That PHP300, in 1979, was well worth it.  I love the Philippines!
   My Kentucky license in 2006 was exchanged for a California license in 2013.  My driving still leaves a lot to be desired.  My children now drive better than me.  My daughter is a whiz at GPS while I remain skeptical.  My son noted that I still drove like a “jeepney” driver, as I did when they were children.  He’s now 47 years old.

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