Zany ideas that may hide genius

Sometimes the craziest ideas — otherwise called zaniest ideas — can hide genius. Who would have thought, in the time of Detective Dick Tracy, that watches might one day be used as communication devices? Who would have thought that the human voice could be heard miles and miles away by using a “telephone”? And who would have thought that machines can actually be built to make other machines? Robots now do that.

All these ideas and others like them were at first ridiculed as, to say the least, impossibilities, and as coming from people who really did not know what they were saying.

But the critics eventually ate their words and gave plaudits to the individuals who courageously dreamed the future and articulated their thoughts at the risk of reputational backlash on themselves.

I am saying this because, recently, a newly-elected public official was said to have made a public proposal which many people were quick to laugh at, picturing him as having nothing better to say.

His proposal was reported to have been for our country to build cable car systems in order to help solve our interminable traffic congestion problems.

Yes, he was laughed at. Why, because current wisdom tends to support the belief that cable cars in the Philippine setting have no real use, because we have only a limited hilly topography that cable wires may straddle.

And that in any case, cable cars by definition can only accommodate a very limited number of people, such as a bunch of tourists, and certainly not a sizable number of the commuting public.

Yet, in other places, countries like Colombia, Venezuela and Russia have found good uses for cable car systems, not just for tourism purposes, but to help solve mass transit problems, especially for hard-to-access areas where a sizable population lives.

Cable cars are relatively cheaper to build than traditional mass transit systems; are quiet and pollution-free. They also can provide panoramic views of the landscape below, too. And, of course, they are great for tourism.

I say, therefore, do not kill proposals just because today they seem zany, impractical or even meaningless, because they may, upon deeper study, hide the innovation genius that our country has such a felt need for.

Besides, developments in engineering, material science and other relevant fields, coupled with demographic changes, may show the ideas may actually make eminent sense after all.

Another issue is related to solving the scary phenomenon of overhead “spider” or “octopus” wires.

These monstrous tangle of electric, cable and communication wires are extreme eyesores, and they look like at any time they could get awry and start emitting sparks that could eventually burn the whole neighbourhood.

Is there a solution to this? We must encourage our people to think hard about it and share their zany ideas with government.

Another subject pertains to our rivers. In the past, they were used both for transport of passengers and cargo, such as the Pasig and Pampanga rivers. In fact, for many people then, travelling by river was the best means of going to Manila and other previous centers of commerce.

Can a new study be done on how to utilize and treat our rivers so that they could benefit the people as a means of transport again?

Another insane idea pertains to tunnels. It’s been said that tunnelling technology is now so advanced that there is nowhere in the world where a tunnel cannot be built.

If so, let our pertinent authorities study where tunnels in our cities or countryside may be purposefully built to add to our people’s convenience in getting from one place to another; in conducting business; in their marketing or shopping; in their relaxation, and other areas of concern.

Let us encourage our people to think about seeming “impossibilities” in our midst, and perhaps government may periodically sponsor public contests on how life for us Filipinos could be improved.

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