Few inanimate objects of an electrical nature cause me to throw up just by looking at them. So scary is this street lamp, it should be included in a Fear Factor episode! These sidewalk lamps reportedly cost PHP90-95,000 PER PIECE. And the DPWH and organizers of the 12th ASEAN Summit have seen fit to install 1,860 pieces of this atrocious, ridiculously overpriced (in my opinion, and that of the local press outlets) lamp along say a 10-15 kilometer official route of ASEAN delegates here in Cebu. In some areas, they are just 10-15 meters apart. If those prices are correct, that means nearly PHP170 MILLION pesos was spent on these eyesores! Painted red, blue and white, the main pole is like a large cylinder, with holes punched in its midsection with one long bulb in the center, then the top is like an upturned toilet seat cover. They will not only have questionable utility over the next few days that the delegates are here, but will likely become rusting eyesores within weeks. And worse, on a short stretch of the road I passed last night, a good 5-10% of the newly installed lamps DO NOT EVEN WORK! And add that to street surveillance cameras that are less much slower than specified, and other roadside white elephants, and all this Imeldific type of sprucing up has reportedly cost PHP800 Million from the DPWH budget alone. Why is this material that should have heads rolling? Why am I so outraged?
First, because we are a poor country! That is a known fact. Because our average per capita income is less than ONE HALF A BLOODY LAMP on average! There are just so many other higher priority things we could have purchased with that money. Second, because the delegates DONâ€™T FRIGGING CARE WHATSOEVER about the FRIGGING LAMPS. The route is so ugly to begin with because it is filled with squatters, run-down homes, businesses who spill out on the streets, nonexistent sidewalks, etc. and the lamps wonâ€™t make up of for the plain the fact that there is indeed a lot of squalor and poverty unaddressed out there. In fact, behind one of the hotels the delegates are billeted in, there are hillsides filled with squatters homes, in plain view of the conference participants. Third, because the windows of the BMW fleet of cars are so heavily tinted that they WONâ€™T EVEN NOTICE THE BLOODY LAMPS, and there are already existing and functioning streetlamps that illuminate (albeit barely) the roadways. Fourth, I consider myself Cebuano, and I am totally embarrassed, chagrined and infuriated that this incredible waste of public resources was done in the city in which I was born. Cebu is a city and province known for its frugality and careful use of hard-earned money. My grandparents, parents and all other dead relatives are rolling in their graves and churning in their urns at this apparent waste of money! Because I have been at the helm of companies in the past year and have paid a PHENOMENAL amount of taxes, I am outraged that in effect, government officials may have purchased several hundreds of this lamps on the honest taxes that we have paid!
And just in case you think I am merely being critical and unconstructive, here goes the Marketman list of suggestions of how I THINK they could have done this better, if only they were intelligent enough to ask me (yes, I am being presumptuous, but yes, too, would I have used the funds more effectively and efficiently)! If the objective was â€œwelcomeâ€ the delegates, illuminate the roadway, and give them a dose of local hospitality here are some initial ideas, instead of the godawful lamps:
1. Line the streets with schoolchildren in their uniforms holding a lit candle for a 1-2 hour period when the delegates are to pass every night for say 4 nights. This move will show not only how utterly and impressively fertile the Filipinos are for having so many offspring, but also that we can mobilize everyone to step out to greet the dignitaries. If you want a real â€œline of fireâ€ this would require roughly 30,000 kids and 120,000 (4 nights) candles and the total cost, say just PHP600,000 to PHP1,000,000, a savings of PHP169,000,000.
2. If you think the kids should get something for their time and effort, you could let them hold sparklers instead, with the rest of the box of sparklers for them to take homeâ€¦total cost up by say another 3-4 million. Alternatively, they could have flashlights or torches of some sort that they can keep for future use. Again, we would have saved hundreds of millions.
3. Alternatively, kids could carry low cost flags of all the Asean nations and wave them in addition to holding a source of light. In fact, in school, the kids could have made a lantern out of papel de japon and bamboo and there would be 30,000 different homemade lanterns lighting the path. They would be environmentally conscious and beautiful to behold.
The point is, there is no other explanation for the profligate waste of money other than utter stupidity or some form of other dubious vested interest. It boggles the mind we have not thought to protest more this outrageous waste of public money. On the ride down from my hotel this morning (I am in Cebu), I was thinking of several great ways to get my indignation across. If only 1,860 like-minded folks would join me, we should have white t-shirts printed with â€œ90,000 PESOSâ€ and chain ourselves to the lamps for every ASEAN delegate to see what kind of bizarre behavior their conference has wrought. Itâ€™s bad enough the convention center was leaking buckets of water and barely finished in time for the conference. Itâ€™s bad enough they used as an excuse the weather to cancel the summit last December when Cebu received nothing more than a sprinkling of rain. Itâ€™s bad enough the headlines in todayâ€™s news report nuns praying for sunshine and truckloads of eggs being offered to the Gods of sunshine and warm weather. What a joke. What a total and embarrassing jokeâ€¦ And as if that wasn’t enough, the last picture here is of the Waterfront hotel in the background, all lit up in garish casino-appropriate colors, behind a pile of uncollected garbage roadside. Welcome delegates to the 12th Asean Summit…