Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ergonomics






BARACK Obama won. The world came to know it in less than twenty-four hours. In no time, we Filipinos will be joking about our honorable plebiscites compared to that of the US. We are a developing country and there’s something with my using ‘developing’ instead of ‘third world.’ It was our initial reaction to compare how the process of our elections had been far slower than snails crawling on their own slime. Before we knew it, it will have become an Aunt Sally slowly creeping in and then cliché-ing in our system.

The keyword is ergonomics. It is something how our office corners position us in such a way that we can reach for everything we need,from paper clips to computer keyboard, during office hours. It is something how our kitchens are so convenient that we can negotiate with the stove and the fridge at the same time no matter how oriental our cooking place may be. We, Filipinos, however, are not very keen about convenience in working. Take note of our offices—government halls in particular—and how they are in utter mess. How many of our town or city halls have their registry, revenue, and cashier’s offices in different floors or—worse—different buildings? Or hospitals where the medical supply stores are blocks away from the pharmacies? In UP, for example, the cashier is ridiculously a jeep-ride away from the registrar’s office when in fact the two offices should have been housed in one building. Next time, don’t ever wonder why our government buildings are cramped up with people lining up for documents, appeals, medicines, endorsements, permits, name them.

Even most Filipino homes are not ergonomic in structure. Trust me. How many homes have kitchens that are not actually being used because the owners have had ‘dirty kitchens’ made up in extension rooms. People I have spoken with about these things would assert that ergonomics are for more developed societies where homes and workplaces are constructed with built in magnet-locked cabinets and paneled with fancy wallpapers. But haven’t we thought that we, the poorer ones, are in direr need of ergonomics. Think of the cost, time, space, energy, and other essential things we can save for more valuable matters.

Our crime investigating bodies boast of modern facilities and yet we have tons of unresolved crimes, from the pettiest to the most complicated. We are awed of how crimes are solved in the CSI series on TV with the investigators sporting sleek aluminum cases with all the gadgets that get evidences. They even got mobile labs. Of course, CSI is half-fiction but nonetheless are hints how ergonomics may help us more in crime busting. I believe we can afford it, considering the figures some police authorities would have spent in Moscow had de la Paz did not mess up.

Our government have already splurged big amount of money for the so-called modernization of our elections. Yet, until the last elections, what we have seen were aged ballot boxes, extra-large brown sheets for the canvassing, bottles of indelible ink that were not really effective, and pencils, felt-tipped pens, and padlocks with the acronym ‘Comelec’ branded on them. I should have not mentioned candlesticks and matches in case of brownouts. Before voting, tedious were the classroom-hopping sprees just looking for one’s precinct. Thus, Philippine elections last for months at most. Here is where most fraud are made.

It’s time I think for us to consider ergonomics as one criterion for everything we do especially now that the whole world is deep in economic trouble. If employers are now looking for employees who are capable of multitasking, the government in its acquisitions should also think of equipment that are long-lasting and have multiple purposes. It’s time to think a little futuristic while other countries no longer think of our futuristic things as futuristic. Think of election computers, electronic canvassing machines, online transmission of votes. Consider eBidding to prevent ghost bidders. Consider the three or four or five-in-one machines instead of buying three or four or five separate machines. Less materials and shorter time, less corruption. Think of these before it’s too late.

Oh, and yes, Barack won, and the world knew it all before the clock ticks twenty-four hours. Perhaps, ergonomically speaking, we should strongly consider bringing back the two-party system.

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