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From Where We Sit

Change the mindset by doing something

Anton Ng

During the few times I was given the privilege to walk the streets of London, one thing that stuck me the most was the motorists’ discipline when approaching a zebra lane. A Londoner friend of mine explained to me that, by law, a motorist is bound to give way as soon as a pedestrian steps onto the zebra lane to cross. As someone who has been driving a lot here in the Philippines, giving way to pedestrians is not one of the things I think about when driving. Even as a pedestrian, I still think that I have to be extra careful and smart when crossing the street, because motorists do not often give way.

Beginning last year, I taught myself to give way to pedestrians, even if I am positively certain that I can zoom past the lane before the pedestrian gets into my path. It was not easy. There were moments when I would be selfish and not mind the pedestrians trying to cross. After several months of trying to unlearn and relearn how to drive when there are pedestrians—by starting to do something—I am becoming more mindful of being safe, not only with regard to pedestrians, while on the road.

There are, of course, much bigger world issues than decreasing the number of road accidents that we feel the need to do something. The impact of climate change is becoming more apparent and there is also the looming possibility of large-scale conflicts between nations. We are concerned, however, that our actions might not have any impact at all. This sometimes results in us succumbing to doing nothing, because we feel like there is nothing substantial that we can do to help. Either that or we feel that we are uneducated enough to take action. With other responsibilities taking much of our time, we oftentimes do not have the time to learn more about these global concerns.

Doing something to address bigger issues, no matter how insufficient and lacking you think you may be, is better than doing nothing at all. By doing something, we are putting ourselves in that space of being mindful of how we can help. This will eventually provide us with a better grasp of what we can further do. You might not be fully informed about a given matter but, by placing ourselves in that mental space, we can seek new and better information as we move along with our lives.

Start with doing something, anything. I know relatives who are ditching their cars and riding their bikes from Cavite to Makati at least once a week to lower their carbon footprint. There are others who intentionally refuse plastics or even paper bags for their takeout food. How about informing baristas at your local coffee shop to no longer provide you with the plastic lid on your morning coffee? This practice of doing something, no matter how small or insignificant they may be, would put you in that space to always be mindful of how you do things.

Refusing straws and plastic lids can be a good start. In a few weeks’ time, you could already be bringing your own reusable cups every day. Soon, all waste in your house would be properly segregated and distributed to different recycling facilities. Doing something, even starting with very small actions, and being in that mental space of helping reduce waste, allows us to think through it, be interested in it, which could then lead to further improvements in how we contribute to this bigger cause.

What has been a bit frustrating lately as I try to teach myself to always give way to pedestrians is that there are pedestrians who seem to be confused whenever I decelerate before reaching the crossing lane. This leads to both of us not moving in front of the zebra lane, which makes the entire process longer. I do understand why: pedestrians, especially in this country, do not trust that drivers would give way to them, even if they are crossing in the appropriate section of the road. My hope is that, as more and more people give way to pedestrians, both motorists and pedestrians would unlearn and relearn how to drive and cross the streets to make it safer and more efficient for everyone. Of course, stricter implementation of road rules could greatly help, but let us not put too much hope in that.

Anton Ng is a partner in the Audit and Assurance division of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 23 partners and more than 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to or For more information, visit our website at


As published The Manila Times, dated 08 January 2020