Notes From the Road: Etobicoke

I am writing from Etobicoke, a municipality of a few skyscrapers west of Downtown Toronto. I’ve been officially staying in Canada for over 2 months now, exploring most of Ontario’s suburban areas and the province of Quebec with the help of kind hearts whose names need not be mentioned.

I’ve been couchsurfing without a permanent address. Sometimes, I’d stay for weeks in Mississauga and spend a few nights in Etobicoke. A week later I’d be in Montreal and come back to Kingston.

Canada’s efficient transportation system has allowed me to travel easily. From downtown Toronto, it only takes a few dollars for a comfortable 30 minute train ride to Mississauga. Heading to the province of Quebec is another railroad adventure. But crossing can also be made possible by using one of Canada’s luxury low-cost bus services.

Using the subway has also been painless. Congestion can be a problem in the subway systems of Toronto and Montreal during rush hour but improvements are on their way. In July of this year, Toronto’s mayoral candidate David Soknacki has proposed to make the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) free for commuters at certain hours in the morning to avoid rush hour congestion.

museum station toronto

Toronto Subway: Museum Station

Efficiency is well exhibited and it’s hard not to compare the results with the Philippines’ own metro railway system known for its myriad of problems.

I see Canada’s remarkable transportation system as a product of discipline which stems from first world convenience. If you live in a country that provides free – not inexpensive – but FREE world-class amenities that cover health care, education and security, there is absolutely no reason to complain and push whoever’s lining up for the next train. And when coupled with abundance, protest becomes minimal. It creates a sphere of contentment, appreciation, understanding and most of all, generosity .

But one experience has driven me to question the effects of having everything. Last Sunday, I took part in a Eucharistic Ministry for the aged as a witness. One of the patients is Anna, who awoke from a deep slumber to greet us when we entered her small and ill-lit home. She sat on her couch and breathed through a nasal cannula as she waited to receive the Holy Communion.

Anna lives alone. She and her mother are sick but they could neither take care of each other nor live under the same roof. She is the second receiver. The first one I met lived alone too.

It is a known fact here that families hardly stay with or visit their aged relatives. The reason apparently revolves around the word TIME – the most precious commodity that can’t be bought not even by a rich and powerful nation.

It is indeed easy to find comfort in Canada. Everything you need is here. Abundance makes me feel sorry to live in a 3rd world environment like the Philippines where greed and corruption prevail. But then again, where my home is, emotional comfort is always valued, maybe because it’s all we have.

Nowhere is perfect.

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