Just recently, a semi-van on its way to the Clark International Airport met an accident on the North Expressway. While some details are still unclear, the vehicle seems to have had 15 people in it and, according to reports, a tire burst, presumably because of the stress and weight, leading to the deaths of at least five passengers and severe injuries of nine more. In that instant, the futures of several families were left in question. Where were these people going? They were all going to Saudi Arabia to work. As is usual for OFWs, their trip abroad would have meant a better life for their families, possibly bringing some up from debilitating poverty towards a life that’s not only more decent but also one with the promise of even better possibilities ahead.
Now, however, those dreams are dashed and possibly delayed for the family for a long time to come. What was the issue? Perhaps, due to excitement and a desire to save, they tried to fit in all those 15 people in a semi-van, a Hyundai H100 according to reports, a vehicle that is both spacious and reliable. It is quite normal for Filipinos to try and fit more passengers into a vehicle.
However, there are at least two more details that need considering here. Cramming 14 passengers into a vehicle may not be that straightforward. Consider also that each passenger, going off to another country to work will most likely, at the very least, have a rather big bag size. People who’ve been in vans know that most of these vehicles are really made for people, not luggage. There is usually very little luggage space to speak of. If each of the 14 passengers (it is unlikely that the driver was also going abroad to work) were on their way to catch a plane, they would’ve all had at least one piece of luggage and, chances are, that would be a good size and they might have had even two big bags each.
What we have here is an overloaded semi-van going on a highway, on its way to catch a plane. Reports said that the van and its passengers were trying to catch a flight and that they were in a bit of a hurry because there was already the danger of being late. Without trying to guess exactly how the driver was making his way through the highway, the “accident” lends itself, on its own, to the possibility that the speed and driving style employed led to enormous pressure on all the tires and one tire just couldn’t take the pressure anymore. We always have to remember that tires, even those well taken care of, do have lifetimes and they do have their limits. Give them too much pressure and they will burst.
Too many questions and still more
The facts of this incident will continue to be investigated and debated as people point fingers as to whose fault it was. Though it may seem pointless to some at this point, it doesn’t have to be. True, lives have been lost and no finger-pointing will bring them back, but one detail needs to be stressed: Being careful with one’s dreams. The decision to leave one’s country and family to live and work in a distant land, one that allows a return home only after perhaps a year or even two is not an easy one to make. There is a lot of sacrifice involved and one that puts pressure on not just one person but a whole family.
Often, the issue of being careful and prudent is left to old ladies and may even be considered to be in the way of getting to one’s dreams. It’s hardly true. The question of whose fault is it or what should’ve been done are not as important anymore as what will happen to the families left behind? There will be things to be paid for—hospital bills, perhaps some placement fee that resulted in not insignificant debt for the family, damage claims by any other person who was injured in the mishap. Who pays for this? How will it be paid for?
Now, the major benefit of this incident to anybody else who has the same dream and the same plan to achieve that dream is to be more circumspect. This is not something that can be solved by just “lakas lang ng loob” or “puede na ‘yan!” That’s foolhardy. Physics and the realities of driving on an expressway are not addressed by such.
Would it have really cost that much more, for example, to get one more vehicle? To have left one or two hours earlier to allow for much more careful driving? These questions are now the stuff of supposition and “what might have been.” Too late, hindsight always is.
That is why a dream is more than, borrowing from Cinderella, “a wish the heart makes.” It needs some careful planning and simple arrangements. It needs to consider what needs to be done so that the dream is attainable and that there is hardly anything that gets in the way. It needs to look into the future, yes, but while always recognizing the intermediate steps that have to be made to get to that future point. If this is not done, the leap may be a leap made too far.