I remember a time when I loved to drive around the metro. Family and friends can usually count on me to even venture south even if I was based north. Heck, there even was a time when I drove around the eskinitas City of Manila daily for work. And I didn’t mind.

Driving used to be a treat for me and I preferred navigating the metro. Long drives on expressways are too boring for me. I loved how I could time pressing down the clutch, shifting into gear, feathering the throttle, and stepping on the brakes for a smooth ride while minding the pedestrians, potholes, and public utility vehicles.

There’s this moment of Zen when you can appreciate how car and driver work as one. Those are the moments when I could fully appreciate the car as a machine.

Believe me, this used to be possible. But that only happened when the car didn’t travel at a snail’s pace. Now, drive a manual and you’d probably be able to skip leg day at the gym. Either that or suffer from chronic leg cramps.

Traffic has gone from bad to worse over the years. When I thought that it was impossible for the metro’s traffic situation to devolve further, it did.

I never had to venture far to do test drives before. Now, you can’t even tell the difference between a piddly 1.0L engine and a V6 save for their effects on your gas gauge because you cannot even drive past 20 kph.

Now, wala nang pinipiling oras. You can’t even plan around rush hours because every hour save for the wee hours of midnight to four is rush hour. Alternative routes are all choked up. The daily trip to work makes you a martyr of the job. Going out to meet people is a test of friendship.

Driving means having to deal with the slow pace, idiot drivers, heat, flash floods, poor road conditions, and greedy traffic enforcers. It has not even become a chore. It has become a curse. A sacrifice to some horned deity.

I could just hope that once all of these road works and public transport reforms get done, traffic would finally ease up. It would be nice if driving could again be a source of joy for drivers like me before we get too old.