MMDA calls for prayers to expel Edsa’s ‘speed demons’By Nathaniel R. Melican
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Officials of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Friday turned to an invisible force to help them reduce the number of accidents along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (Edsa)—divine intervention.
Armed with bibles, rosaries, candles and holy water, MMDA Chair Francis Tolentino and Fr. Roderick Castro of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Makati City led MMDA employees in blessing stretches of the 24-kilometer-long Edsa for the first time since the highway was opened 70 years ago.
Edsa was then called Highway 54.
“Aside from instilling traffic measures in our drivers, we are now imploring the aid of Divine Providence to hopefully lessen accidents and increase the safety of motorists,” Tolentino told reporters before the first of several rituals along the Edsa stretch began.
At around 6 a.m., Castro led Tolentino’s group in prayer at a gasoline station on the northbound side of Edsa-Magallanes, before they boarded MMDA’s green top-down pickup truck and started the blessing.
Another convoy, led by MMDA General Manager Corazon de Jesus and Msgr. Salvador Jose, also of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Makati City, blessed the southbound side of Edsa starting from Balintawak.
“Jesus Christ came to this world to unite us … May this road always unite people who are far apart,” Castro said in Filipino as he read from a red book of prayers in a brief ceremony at a gasoline station on Magallanes.
Castro also read Chapter 14 of the Gospel of John, the highlight of which was when Jesus Christ told his disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Not an exorcism
Castro added a few words of his own, clarifying that the blessing was not an exorcism.
“We are not driving away the evil spirit. This is a thanksgiving to the Lord, because our journey here on Earth is a reminder of our journey to God the Father in Heaven,” he said.
“Here on Earth, we need to drive safely to reach our destination. But how can we safely get there if we are busy texting or calling someone on our cell phones?” Castro said.
He recited a prayer asking God to “join (your people) in their journey on Earth and help them get to their aspirations and gloriously reach their destination.”
Castro, with Tolentino, then got on their pickup truck and, driving north, went on to bless portions of Edsa—the first-ever blessing of most of the road’s stretch since it was opened to traffic in the 1940s as Highway 54.
“Since this was opened as Highway 54, there has been no general blessing for the (entire) road. There have been blessings for individual projects, such as when the Mass Rapid Transit was opened, or when a new tunnel or flyover was built,” Tolentino told reporters.
The priests on the northbound and southbound convoys of pickup trucks—passing through tunnels and moving across flyovers—sprinkled holy water along the way. The rest of the convoys prayed the rosary.
The convoys made eight stops: at the Magallanes Interchange, Ayala Tunnel, at the intersection of Gil Puyat Avenue (Buendia) and Edsa, Guadalupe Bridge, Shaw Boulevard Tunnel, Ortigas Flyover, Cubao Tunnel, and Kamuning Flyover.
More than 300 accidents
“These are the areas where there have been many accidents over the years. Many have died or were injured in these areas, such as in the Ayala Tunnel, where a number of bombs have exploded inside buses, killing many people,” Tolentino said.
After Tolentino’s convoy crossed a U-turn in Balintawak, Castro gave a final blessing to end the ceremony.
Tolentino was upbeat. “That should do it. Hopefully there should be lesser accidents along Edsa,” he said.
However, Tolentino echoed the sentiments of Castro before the blessing began.
“MMDA is continuously finding solutions to improve the traffic situation in Metro Manila. But the public should also cooperate. Road discipline is important. Drivers should always be safety-conscious,” he said.
Tolentino said that on an average day, the MMDA responds to at least six accidents along the length of the thoroughfare. More than 300 accidents along Edsa have been recorded since the start of the year.
However, because of the bad weather in the past week, the number of accidents along Edsa on Wednesday shot up to 33. In one of them, a Don Mariano Transport Co. bus rammed the railings of the Ortigas flyover, injuring 10 people.
That was, of course, before Tolentino, et al. came to the scene with their religious arsenal.