(Photo shows Commonwealth Avenue-Northbound on a good day; it's still early so no heavy traffic yet going to Fairview)
Back in my undergrad days (not too long ago) a friend of mine who did his OJT in the MMDA office in Manadaluyong commented, as we were going home to "Fairview" (we actually live right before entering Fairview), that according to the MMDA database, Commonwealth Avenue is regarded the deadliest street-avenue-highway in the Philippines, with the most number of auto accidents. A prime example of what could happen to you of you are not careful enough is put on a "pedestal" right on the island across Jollibee Philcoa. It used to be a small Pajero, I think, or a Vitara. Ha ha ha, the other drivers would say, di kasi marunong mag-defensive driving. I know personally of someone who had an auto accident right there--he was u-turning at Philcoa (back then it was still possible) when a jeepney coming from the opposite direction slammed into his car. Didn't even slow down. BAM, but nothing deadly, which was a good thing. Just had to spend some fat cash to have the car repaired.
Nowadays, it's not just the auto accidents that put Comonwealth Avenue at the top of the hell highway chart. One of the news on TV Patrol this evening was about the avenue and how much the crime rate has increased over the years. According to the data gathered from the police reports, this year has so far been the worst. From August to September this year, an average of two to three crimes and accidents happen in a week. Not included are the 'smaller' accidents and crimes that don't get reported, including over-speeding. No matter how careful you are, if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time...
Call center agents make very good holdup targets. This I learned when the news spread that an agent gets held up almost every night at the overpass by the Convergys Commonwealth branch. QC (or perhaps it was just the Convergys management) got smart this time and installed a night guard right on the overpass.
I've been commuting through Commonwealth Avenue on my own since freshman year in high school in UST. I am thankful that nothing bad has happened to me, except of course the occasional minor collisions that made me late. At that time, getting to class on time was what I mostly worried about, because I still had Quezon Avenue and Espana to traverse.
This August, I boarded an FX going to UST from Delta, because I dropped by the BIR office first. When I got in, I thought I was being caught on cam, one of those shows where they joke around and say they'll be heading off to the beach instead, and wait for your reaction. Turns out that the FX had just been held up. The passengers didn't really know each other; they just shared a common experience. This I gathered from hearing their conversation: the two men who held up the FX got in at Batasan--one at the back, the other at the middle. "Malikot ang mga mata nila," one lady who lost her cellphone recalled. These guys locked the doors and refused to let one passenger alight at the Wildlife Center, his destination. They also refused to let the driver take the Edsa "ibabaw," forcing him to take the underpass. They had a gun. At the underpass, they collected all they could from the passengers. And there you go. They got out immediately.
One of the passengers seated at the front was able to hide his cellphone in his sock under his pants. He boasted around about his move even as I got off. I wanted to sock him and make him eat his 'saved' phone just to shut him up.
When my mom was held up in an FX (took her cellphone) some two years ago, those at the front (who usually have the chance to keep their belongings) offered to give some cash to the other passengers, since they were spared from giving up anything. Nice people, unlike Mr. Cellphone-in-his-sock-I'll-sock-you-one-if-you-don't-shut-up.
Right now, demolitions are being done, to make way for another road widening project. Gone are the vulcanizing shops, the auto shops, the barbers and salons, the goats doomed to be pinapaitan, the palochina furniture makers, the videoke bars and carinderias. The signs of life I eagerly watch in the morning going to work, and at night coming home. They will be replaced by asphalt and concrete, cars, jeeps, trucks, buses, road kill.
Maybe it is a good thing after all, with the number of people living in Novaliches, Bulacan, Montalban, Fairview, and the environs, who take Commonwealth everyday going to school, to their means of livelihood. They are more important. They pay their taxes. Which make road widening possible.
If you ask me, they should put more good cops over (t)here instead. No sense getting to work early if your pockets are empty and you're dead anyway.