Category Archives: road accidents

On Robert Blair Carabuena

To those unfamiliar with the case, Robert Blair Carabuena was caught on a cellphone video manhandling (or bullying, as ABS-CBN News put it) Saturnino Fabros, an officer of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in Tandang Sora, Quezon City. Carabuena is reportedly an Ateneo de Manila University alumnus with a high-position in Philip Morris.

The incident happened last August 11 but it has not received immediate media attention because of tropical storm Helen. Aside from facing direct assault charges from Fabros’ camp, some Filipinos have launched an online petition asking Philip Morris to fire Carabuena. The petition, whose initial signatories include journalist Ellen Tordesillas and University of the Philippines professor Prospero de Vera, can be accessed here.

The circumstances leading to the apparent attack on Fabros remain unclear.  Quoting sources from the Carabuena camp, ABS-CBN TV host Bianca Gonzales said that Fabros allegedly hit the former’s car while cursing in the process. The Carabuena-Fabros tussle has easily become the most-talked about road rage incident in the Philippines since Jason Ivler made headlines back in 2009 to 2010 for killing two fellow motorists on separate instances.

robert blair carabuena

Robert Blair Carabuena (photo taken from Facebook)

The “relationship” of humans with their cars is one area that has been the subject of many scientific researches in recent years especially in the United States. Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University in North Carolina, USA, said: “As soon as we acquire something we start to develop an attachment to it,” adding that “the sheer fact of ownership” increases how much we value objects.

Although Ariely did not explicitly say it, it can be assumed that the value we attach to an object is directly related to the amount we spent to acquire it. Some car types can be as expensive as a brand new house, and therefore, it is no surprise that some drivers react violently whenever another motorist (or just anyone) hits his or her car, especially if it results in visible damages. Could this be the main trigger of Carabuena’s road rage?

PS: Perplexed with the rising cases of deaths due to vehicular accidents, the Vatican issued in 2007 the so-called “Ten Commandments” for drivers. Below, I have highlighted those edicts can be a good help in preventing future road rages:

1. You shall not kill.

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination and an occasion of sin.

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

7. Support the families of accident victims.

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible toward others.

MUST READ: Sociology professor Michael Kearl (from Texas’ Trinity University) has a wonderful piece titled “The social psychology of driving.” The article explains why some drivers act as if they own all the roads.

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No, Chris. There’s a flood warning sign before you reach Mother Ignacia Ave.

It was like a scene straight from MTV Boiling Points (remember that show?).

UP Law student and philosophy summa cum laude graduate Christopher Lao have become an overnight Internet celebrity for all the wrong reasons. He was interviewed by GMA 7’s Jun Veneracion because his car was rendered useless by last Tuesday’s flashfloods (triggered by storm Kabayan). He babbled and ranted on national television that he was not at all aware that Mother Ignacia Avenue in Quezon City was impassable that morning because “he was not informed.”

Mr. Lao has been described as “dumb” and a “moron” by throngs of people online for his remarks (he even has two hate pages in Facebook). He became a trending topic in Twitter and Yahoo. Literally everyone has written about him, including The Professional Heckler (, New York Times reporter Carlos Conde (, and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (

Come on, cut the guy some slack. Who among you have not blurted out downright stupid things when the going gets tough? I also don’t like the thought of dragging the name of UP (my alma mater) into this entire mess. Do you really have to emphasize “UP graduate pa man din” every time you criticize him for his actions? I really hate it whenever people do that.  It’s as if UP graduates are supposed to be perfect all the time (since their shortcomings are forever magnified).

I want to correct the misconception that there were no warning signs in the area. My office is near Mother Ignacia and there is not a day I don’t see this huge sign in the intersection of Panay Avenue (which comes before Ignacia, if you’re coming from UP) and EDSA:

A huge flood warning sign for motorists approaching Mother Ignacia Avenue in Quezon City. (pls repost with credits)

Given the strength of the rains that morning plus the fact that he is rushing home for his daughter (according to a Facebook note by his UP classmate Rowena Ricalde), it is understandable for him not to have read the sign when he was approaching Mother Ignacia. I’m not about to speak for him on that. But, at least, the whole world now knows what MMDA has been warning us about: “Tuwing umuulan, bumabaha sa Mother Ignacia Ave.” You’re better off taking Panay Avenue instead.

Motorists can use Panay Avenue as an alternative to the flood-prone Mother Ignacia Ave. in Quezon City. (personal photo)

Yesterday, I posted Jun Veneracion’s reaction to criticisms about his interview with Christopher Lao:

Two wakes, two deaths, two fatal accidents

In a span of less than four weeks, I visited the wakes of two well-known individuals: teen actor AJ Perez (Christ the King Parish, April 19), and UP journalism professor Lourdes “Chit” Simbulan (Arlington Memorial, May 14). The first one is a rising star in the entertainment industry, while the second one is an award-winning veteran journalist who has been in the business for over three decades. I am a big fan of AJ Perez, and I am one of Prof. Simbulan’s former students in UP. The two probably do not know each other, for they are in different fields, but the thread that links them together is their cause of death. Investigations are still ongoing for both accidents, but it is apparent that their untimely demise could have been avoided.

Prof. Chit Simbulan's wake

Merely two days before the fateful road mishap that claimed Prof. Simbulan’s life, the Department of Public Works and Highways officially launched in the Philippines the start of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety from year 2011 to 2020. In launching this global initiative, the United Nations General Assembly aims to “to stabilize and then reduce the forecast level of road traffic fatalities around the world.”

A statement on the program’s website soberly reminds people that everyday around the world, 3,500 people “leave home and never return because they have been suddenly and violently killed in a road crash.” The accident that killed Perez happened on his way home to Manila after a show in Dagupan, Pangasinan. He even twitted that it will be a “long drive ahead” for his party. Meanwhile, Prof. Simbulan rode a cab to take her to UP Ayala Techno Hub for a meet-up with high school friends from Tandang Sora, Quezon City. The trip that should’ve been only ten minutes took a deadly turn when an overspeeding bus rammed into the said taxi.

The United Nations noted that “these tragic deaths and the misery and grief they cause” can be prevented if “measures are taken by governments, police, health practitioners and all road users to improve safety.” Top Gear magazine reported late last year, citing figures from Metro Manila Development Authority and Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group, that at least 14,000 road accidents were recorded from January to October 2010, resulting in 380 deaths. Most of these are caused by avoidable human error, like overspeeding and failure to follow traffic rules.

These figures may be telling, but as the Asian Development Bank’s National Road Safety Plan noted in 2005, “there is a serious problem on the underreporting of traffic accidents by the police” and that an efficient road accident data system is “simply not yet available in the Philippines.” In effect, “there is a gross underreporting of the number of (car accident) fatalities.”

Road accidents, even deadly ones, have lost its shock value among the public through the years. Because they happen all too frequently, we seem to have regarded these as just-another-news-item, if news executives even deem those as newsworthy. The death of Prof. Simbulan opened up a number of issues, from the lack of discipline among motorists and inefficiency of traffic enforcers, to misplaced footbridges, concrete barriers, and U-turn slots, and the prevailing living conditions of bus drivers.

Despite their 34-year age gap, both AJ Perez and Lourdes Simbulan would have done many more wonderful things had their life not been cut short by avoidable road accidents. The good thing is, their deaths should serve as an eye-opener for us on what has to be done to reduce the number of lives lost due to car mishaps.


ADB-ASEAN Regional Board Safety Program-National Road Safety Action Plan 2005-2010.

Lorenzo, Anna Barbara. Safety advocates reveal alarming number of road accidents in RP. Top Gear Magazine (October 13, 2010)

Tadeo, Patrick Everett. UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety launched globally today. Top Gear Magazine (May 11, 2011)

United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.

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