Today was officially my last day as Director of the National Center for Transportation Studies of the University of the Philippines Diliman. This is based on my appointment for my second 3-year term, which ran from November 1, 2009 to October 31, 2012. I have mixed feelings about today looking back to the many "what could have beens" and "what ifs" throughout my 6-year stint as administrator. There were many challenges and decision points during that time and steering the Center towards fulfilling its mandate was not always smooth considering the many personalities and sensitivities that went with the job.
When I first became head of the center, I set out to create an environment where everyone could work as best as possible according to their preferences and capabilities. I leave my post believing we were able to achieve that and by we I would like to emphasize that I alone could not succeed but only with the cooperation, dedication and hard work of all who were part of the center whether as organic staff, Fellow or partner. Many times, it was a thankless job and those were the times, perhaps, when our work and accomplishments probably mattered a lot. After all, we were not afraid to get our hands dirty and to be as direct as possible in our message even to our partners whom we had to repeatedly remind of their commitments and responsibilities.
Are transport and traffic in Metro Manila and the country better, more efficient and safer than it was 6 years ago? I would like to think there were improvements and many cannot be directly attributed to our work at the center. We are but a small organization in a sea of government agencies and bureaucracy. However, collaborative work with these agencies, private sector partners and other agencies have been key to our influencing policymaking even in cases when advise and opinion from the center were not received well as they clashed with what we have come to term as "nakasanayan na" in many agencies. Truly, it is not easy getting out of established comfort zones where wrong has become right simply because it has been practice all these years.
I will continue to be part of the Center but this time more as an active Fellow. There are those who are Fellows only in name but have little in terms of contributions to the Center's work. I do not intend to be like them and hopefully, I can continue to provide guidance not just to staff but to the next leadership as well. And here begins a new chapter that's still to be written in the time to come...