The outpouring of greetings that honor and celebrate all the mothers last Sunday brought back a lot of childhood memories about my mom. One incident, quite unfortunate at that time, but I now find quite hilarious, happened inside the MRT-3.
But first, a little about my mom.
Growing up, the constant challenge and winning attitude to never settle for less became my mantra in every endeavor that crosses my way. Thanks to my father (who has always been my rock and original role model as a public servant) and most importantly, to my strict but loving public school teacher of a mother, I was molded into the kind of woman I am today.
For this daughter of both public servants who grew up in Marikina, going to Manila back then seemed to be an ordeal. Manila was alive with busy roads, skyscrapers and establishments. It was pretty overwhelming.
I will never forget that day when I decided to tag along with my mom as she went to Manila from our Marikina home for some important paperwork. Thrilled and full of excitement, I accompanied my mom and started our long journey to Manila.
To get there, we needed to ride the MRT-3 as it is the fastest way to get to our destination. Little did I know that an exciting train ride would end up being dreadful. As we tried to hop on the train at the Cubao Station, the train coaches were utterly packed with people. On the platform, where I and my mom stood, passengers were elbow-to-elbow, which made me feel rather uncomfortable and dead tired.
When it was finally our chance to board the train, people hurriedly and rowdily rushed inside as the train doors opened. After a few moments of pushing and hustling, the doors closed with me able to made my way through. It’s when I began to realize that I lost sight of mom. Right then and there, the tough and disciplinarian woman I have known all my life, burst into tears as the train drifted away and as I watched mom being left behind at the platform.
Luckily, I recalled where we were heading. I calmed myself and alighted the train at the Taft Avenue Station in Pasay. There, we were reunited. But, that dreadful moment away from my mom even for a while and the horrible experience of having to deal with unruly passengers at the rail line made me swear that I will never ride the MRT-3 again.
Some years later, here I am, working as part of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) under the leadership of another unmatched public servant in the person of none other than Secretary Arthur P. Tugade. Ironically, I ended up serving in the transportation sector. However frightful my experience might have been, it inspired me to carry out my duty.
In contrast to that place of discomfort I had been in the past, I now stand, with pride, in a role where I am now able to personally witness the enormous developments unfolding in the transportation sector, including those in the country’s railway lines.
From dilapidated and sluggish trains, the MRT-3 now runs at 60kph. From sweltering crowded train cars, the trains are now spaces of comfort that give passengers a convenient travel experience. And by end of this year, the full massive rehabilitation of the MRT-3 will finally be complete.
Perhaps, some of you are wondering what lessons have I learned from that experience. To be honest, there’s a wealth of learning that I have acquired over my years of serving in the DoTr. But what comes so close and personal was that MRT-3 incident with my mom.
As a mother now, it makes me more driven and empowered to know that I am part of change — that I am part of the movement and that driving force to remake our country’s transport system not just for ourselves, but for our children, and the next generations.
After all, that desire to put the interest of others before oneself is in the hearts of all mothers.