[I believe I wrote this during an election season. We were roaming around Lanao del Sur looking for stories when we kept running into these irritating speed bumps on the road. This article came out in the Phil. Daily Inquirer in April 2004.]
Masiu, Lanao del Sur – If you’re a politician on the campaign trail and are about to hit the road in this province, be warned: prepare for a humpy-bumpy ride.
The reason? Concrete humps. Lots of them.
In a recent 40 kilometer drive from MarawiCity to Masiu town, on the eastern side of LakeLanao, we counted 60 concrete humps (and this without a subdivision in sight).
That is like three humps for every 2 kilometers of the highway. The national highway, that is.
Most of these concrete humps tend to be located on a stretch of highway passing through a clump of houses or a town. They come in twos or threes and are usually placed five or 10 meters apart.
Concrete humps get the attention of motorists because they hurt both vehicle and its occupants when hit at high speed. Their purpose is clear: to discourage overspeeding.
And in this part of the province where traffic cops are like hen’s teeth, there is an over-abundance of Schumachers and Andrettis zooming by in their jeepneys and fave FX vans.
In fact, they say the Maranao public transportation driver is a true blue speed demon. They like to overtake all the vehicles in front of them, overtake on curves, honk their horns, and terrify their passengers with their racing antics. They also tend to look very young.
With all these screaming through the highways on a daily basis, and with the authorities allegedly doing nothing about it, residents are taking the law and the highway construction work into their own hands by making all these concrete humps — all in an effort to avoid becoming road kill for the speeding motorists.
Farmer Kalid Alip, who lives along the highway in Masiu, said that the concrete humps are there to prevent accidents because there have a been lot in the past.
“Hindi natin sila masisi dahil maraming mga bata naglalaro sa daan (We can’t blame them (the residents) because there are a lot of kids who play along the road),” he said.
Hitting pedestrians is of course an incident any motorist would like to avoid, but to hit a child on the highways of Lanao del Sur would indeed be catastrophic for him. And motorists here are aware of that.
Alip said that the residents put up the amount needed to construct the concrete humps or a more moneyed member of the community, like a Sultan, shoulders the cost.
If no money is available, wooden humps are used. They are usually strips of a coconut tree trunk but they feel pretty much like the real thing, nonetheless.
Hump-making has become part of the people’s “highway survival” culture, but many motorists are still concerned about the danger concrete humps pose to them and their passengers.
“If you don’t see them on time you might lose control of your vehicle and, well… you fly!” Bobby Timonera, a photojournalist who travels a lot, said.
“Those concrete humps can also damage your vehicle’s suspension,” he added.
There is also evidence of some of these concrete humps being removed. This is usually the case near military detachments. Soldiers seem to dislike humps more than the average motorist. In fact, there is a story that may explain this.
Several years ago, an Army truck was racing through the highway on the western side of lakeLanao carrying a wounded soldier in the back when it hit one of these concrete humps.
The wounded soldier fell out of the vehicle and as coup de grace — he died. Several other soldiers were also allegedly injured in that accident.
But soldier or not, if you’re a motorist driving on the highways of Lanao del Sur, be prepared for a truly bumpy ride.
As one Maranao jeepney driver put it: “Ay do, masakit! ” (Rex Godinez Ortega)
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Rex Godinez Ortega
Phil. Daily Inquirer (2004)