Lately, I’ve been experiencing ecstasy in driving. It is a good thing our driver of more than 15 years had to resign, and the occasional drivers we hire on a daily basis are not always available. This forces me to take the wheel. Believe it or not, it makes me giddy and young again. It affords me freedom to dictate the pace, to choose the lane, to plan a route not dictated upon by Waze or Google Map, to fend off the bullies on the road without being obvious, and to enjoy the sights from a commanding seat.
It is also a blessing that my ophthalmologist at Asian Eye operated on my left optics. “Let us work on your remaining good eye,” declared Dr. Ang. He said that he will fix my ogler to be able to see farther. With the help of lasers, he did. No more eyeglasses. My eyes can now focus much better with my Nikon cameras, too. It has allowed me to see clearly, like menus on the board of fast-food joints, and street signs and vehicle movements paces ahead.
It also helped that I was able to get my 10-year driver’s license early this year. Without the hassles. I have the Tagaytay LTO to thank for its efficiency. My experience with this vulture-infested agency has never been pleasant until now.
My dad taught me how to drive on his secondhand Ford Fairlane; us circling Road One (later Congressional Avenue), unpaved and dusty. Once, on my own, I strayed further and on to Highway 54 (later EDSA) which then looked like a forlorn provincial road. A cop noticed I was probably too young to be driving. He waved for me to stop and said I was committing a violation for driving without license. He asked for my address and told me to go home. The next day, he came to our place and was asking for a bottle of liquor. That day in the mid-60s was my first whiff of corruption.
The first car that I bought with my own money was a brand-new but bare Lancer 2-door coupe in 1978, to which I added an aircon and then a radio-cassette as earnings trickled in. In that era when cars had to undergo “breaking-in,” I drove mine to Vigan, Ilocos Sur and then, a week later, to Legaspi, Bicol. These were exhilarating trips where I was bowled over by our countryside – the verdant mountains, the heritage homes, the rice fields, the folks, and more - and yearned for them, again and again.
That 1978 car is still with me, in amazing running condition. It performed better than my 1995 Galant in ascending the picturesque Kennon Road. I love driving alone, sometimes. It allows me to sort my thoughts, choose my music or radio station without anybody feeling discomfort, sing aloud without the boos, explode with PIs in frustration ang anger without offending anyone, and even tear up without shame when nostalgia grips me. The car cabin is an excellent nut box.
Today, I still have to shore up enough courage to drive my American SUV. Despite the new license and the new eye. I alternate with my present generation Lancer GT and a brand-new Korean sub-compact car which can virtually run on its own with its lane assist and cruise control. I still have to get used to the rear-camera monitor, though I am enjoying it. But I think I am ready to hit the road once more and may fulfill the bucket list of driving from Ilocos to Mindanao. Soon, I hope.