The Ultimate Filipino Driving MachineBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
10:10. I glanced at my phone and got up.
Another morning. Another day.
Change attire, pack the computer, wash face, and after that first minute, bam… just like clockwork, I was all ready to go. Turn on the car engine and drive away could have been added to that first minute, but there are always those uncontrollable snags that periodically come up. In case, it was breakfast.
“Wait. You must eat,” my Grandma said, hurrying to the kitchen once she saw me.
And like magic, she whipped out from the kitchen six lumpias. Well, what do you know? Where did they come from?
Don’t worry. They weren’t like thrown together; hustled into some abused paper towel and handed to me without care. Oh no, no, no.
They were actually carefully wrapped into a fine piece of aluminum foil, perched upon a folded up piece of paper towel to soak up the remaining oily grease and held together in a neatly made cellophane bag, in a fitting show of Filipino creativity only a Grandma would know, where practically and sensibility seem to overshadow the importance of presentably, hands down.
And of course, I couldn’t refuse such a nice bouquet of lumpias, knowing full well that passing up food in our culture, whether appetizing or not, is considered not only impolite but surprisingly rude.
It wasn’t as if I was carrying enough stuff already. Or that I was late. It’s lumpias for goodness sakes. Who could pass up lumpias?
As I pulled out into the street, my left hand concentrated on handling the steering wheel. My right hand, on the other hand, continued to do what it had been doing… holding on to my still hot lumpias.
Turning off from Refugio into Sycamore, I stopped at a light and removed a
lumpia from its concealed packaging, holding it hostage out the window, in a primitive attempt to cool it off and also to reduce any incidents of lumpia wrapper crumbs in the car.
It’s then a thought popped into my head, ‘Huh… this is hella illogical… there is no way I’m going to eat my lumpias, without having to first peel my hand from the steering wheel to retrieve one.’
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to enjoy these great lumpias without having to wait until a stoplight appears or until I carpool with someone with extra hand to spare?
Then it occurred to me. I know.
Just imagine, at the push of a button, a device that would emerge from the instrument panel, a smaller, lightweight pliers-like device that would latch on to your humble lumpia, grasping on to it in such a way that it would be tilted toward an attached oil-snatcher that would drain away any excess grease.
For a more deluxe feel, the lumpia holder could have attached heating pads, affording you the luxury of letting the lumpia sit for a while, crispy as hell, as your stomach makes final adjustments for its final descent into the netherworld. And if your Chinese and Vietnamese friends decide to bring along their rolls in your ride, don’t worry.
Your lumpia holder is one size fits all, flexible enough to accommodate any of those lumpia derivatives from the shores of the Orient.
And why stop there? I mean if P. Diddy could equip a Navigator with all the appointed luxuries for the ghetto superstar in all of us, I’m sure there could be a car made for the Filipino superstar in all of us as well.
With lumpia holders in, balut holders seem to be the only logical next step. Via an aluminum dial situated perfectly at your fingers reach, a pair of stainless steel cup-like devices would swing in concert from the center console, sweeping up your balut and cradling in its protective center.
Now, just set to boil and you’ll be instantly invited to a date with your duck-eating taste buds. And of course, if a little duck egg wasn’t your style, a boiled chicken egg is always plausible. Your choice.
On the run but find yourself smelling fishy as hell because your lola strangely decides to cook tuyo at two o’clock in the morning for a late night merienda.
Well, fear no more.
The Blower Sunroof is here.
Using state-of-the-art technology found only in hardware of military Apaches, this nifty contraption with its helicopter-like blades will send a rush of air screaming in and out of your car at Mach speed, just fast enough to speed your way to a Snuggle-feel freshness in no time flat.
Ever try bringing home some left over lechón from a party but instead find yourself fighting with relatives for the last remaining saran-wrap, holding your shish kebab and pánsit in mid-air between two leaky-prone paper plates.
Well, not to worry because underneath your backseats, lies something designed exactly for your Filipino traveling needs.
Durable, ultra water-resistant and impervious to stains, these exclusively made Tupperware containers could store anything your plastic-happy heart desires from your Auntie’s favorite adobo to that more interesting buro
Pack ‘em. Stack ‘em. Collect ‘em all.
They come in four exciting colors.
L.A. and back? No problem.
Your trusty containers could handle all the disorganized tonnage your relatives have a habit of bringing with them, keeping their food not only entirely mush-free but as fresh as can be while you slump into the passenger seat for a record eight hours.
And since your plastic containers are readily removable, requiring only a brief encounter with your neighbor’s high-pressure hose to return them to their original state, you could always rest assured that your relatives will never leave a mess.
Think your old car was the greatest piece of luxury the world has ever seen but couldn’t help but notice while squinting through the knobs of your steering wheel that your 12-way power seats still seemed a bit too inadequate for your shorter physique.
Not to worry. Now, with power front seats that enable you to increase your driving stature to the incredible height of two feet and fully automated foot pedals that use infrared positioning to locate the soles of your feet, years of sitting on telephone books and adjusting the seat all the way to the steering column could now be a distant memory.
If ever this combination of features were culminated into a singular car, this would make for a car that was made for the Filipino. And just add the portable in-dash quart-size retractable rice cooker, the hands-free karaoke machine and the optional mahjong boards and suddenly, you’ve got yourself a motorcar that could dub itself as the ultimate Filipino driving machine.
Unfortunately, reality sucks. Such a car still hasn’t come into fruition and the existence of one isn’t even a glimmer yet on the horizon.
Up to now, I’m still left with a car in which the only phat amenity is a little retractable cup holder that pops out from its hidden compartment in the center console, surprising first-time passengers unaccustomed to a little robotics.
Perhaps one day, when buying a car, we’ll all savor in the delight of checking the box with the optional ‘Filipino package,’ filled with all these interesting gadgets I’ve proposed.
And once that day comes, my lumpias will be so proud. - PDM