[PHOTO AT LEFT -  Filipinos crowd in bus terminal to go home to their provinces
for Christmas eve celebrations with families.]

MANILA, DECEMBER 23, 2008 (STAR) The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced yesterday the automatic lifting of its Unified Vehicle Volume Reduction Program, better known as the number coding scheme, from Dec. 25 to Jan. 4, 2009.

MMDA general manager Robert Nacianceno said the coding scheme is automatically lifted on regular, special and non-working holidays and is not enforced on weekends.

“That means the number coding scheme is lifted until Jan. 2, 2009 but motorists will enjoy it until Jan. 4, which is a Sunday,” he told The STAR.

The MMDA will also deploy traffic enforcers along major roads due to the expected increase in the number of vehicles.

Meanwhile, the southbound lane of Roxas Boulevard from Katigbak Drive to P. Ocampo Avenue (formerly Vito Cruz) shall be closed to vehicular traffic starting at 1 p.m. tomorrow to give way to the 34th Metro Manila Film Festival parade, the Manila District Traffic Enforcement Unit announced yesterday.

Superintendent Roberto dela Rosa said all motorists intending to use the southbound lane of Roxas Boulevard should turn left on P. Burgos, right on Ma. Orosa, right on T. M. Kalaw, left on M. H. del Pilar and continue to their destination.

Motorists can also use the southbound lane of Taft Avenue as an alternative route, De la Rosa added.

There was no information on what time the closed portion of Roxas Boulevard will open to traffic.

On the other hand, the Skyway Operations & Maintenance Corp. (SOMCO) announced it will not collect fees from motorists who will use the Skyway system’s Magallanes-Alabang at-grade and Buendia-Bicutan elevated sections from 10 p.m. on Dec. 24 until 6 a.m. on Dec. 25; and from 10 p.m. on Dec. 31 until 6 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2009.

This move would also allow Skyway’s first-shift frontline employees a chance to spend Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve with their families, officials said.

SOMCO also advised all users who manually load their e-pass, that from Dec. 24 up to Jan. 2, 2009, they can replenish their e-pass accounts only at the e-pass customer service center (CSC) of the Skyway Complex on Doña Soledad Avenue, Barangay Don Bosco in Parañaque City.

The E-Pass CSC will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 24, 26, 29 and 30; from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 27; and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2009.

LOCAL NEWS: SWS: 3 in 5 Filipinos expect a Happy Christmas By Helen Flores Updated December 23, 2008 04:54 PM

Three out of five adult Filipinos or 63 percent expect a happy Christmas in 2008, a latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed.

Only eight percent expect it to be “sad” while 27 percent say “it will be neither happy or sad,” according to the Fourth Quarter 2008 Social Weather Survey.

SWS said happiness with Christmas remained unchanged for five years.

“Expectations of a happy Christmas have been unchanged since 2004. The 63 percent expecting a happy 2008 Christmas is similar to the 64 percent posted in 2007, 62 percent in both 2006 and 2005, and also 64 percent in 2004,” the SWS said.

SWS said when it first surveyed expectations about Christmas-to-come in the Fourth Quarter of 2002, 82 percent of Filipinos expected a happy Christmas.

The percentage dropped only slightly to 77 percent in 2003, and then fell to the sixties afterwards, the SWS said.

The non-commissioned survey, conducted from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, used face-to-face interviews of 1,500 adults in Metro Manila, the balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Expectations of a happy Christmas are higher in Visayas (70 percent) and Mindanao (70 percent), than in balance Luzon (59 percent) and Metro Manila (55 percent), the SWS said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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