By Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.

ATTY. GILBERTO LAUENGCO, J.D. is a lawyer, educator, political strategist, government consultant, Lego enthusiast, and the director of CAER Think Tank. He is a Former Vice Chairman of MECO, Special Assistant of NFA and City Administrator among others. His broad experience has molded his unique approach to issues analysis which he calls the oblique observation.

“No one wins … by only moving forward… sometimes you have to move backward…” – Marc and Angel Chernoff

Today is the end of January. For many, it is the end of what seemingly was the longest month of the year. Facebook had been replete with memes like, “tomorrow is January 55th” and “It’s still January?”. Apparently, a lot of people feel that January is like a long Monday after the holidays. Some psychologists believe that the January blues or boredom affliction is caused by the ordinariness of the month compared to the frenzy of the Christmas season. It is for this reason that, in many parts of the world, some celebrate National Backwards Day on Jan. 31 to end the month with something different.

National Backwards Day is a lighthearted special day where folks are encouraged to do things in reverse or unconventional ways. “Be creative and do something unexpected” is the mantra for the day. On this day, one can speak in reverse or read a book backwards. Through lighthearted ways, people are reminded that thinking outside the box and being unconventional can be a good thing.

Other than adding some whimsy to an otherwise dreary time, going backward can also be an appropriate strategy for certain situations and times. When the way forward seems troublesome or bleak, going backward or in another direction might be a better alternative.

Let us take career paths for instance. Traditionally, going to the cities or abroad is the logical way forward for occupational advancement. Today, a lot of millennials or even Gen X’ers are doing the reverse and going to the provinces to make a living. I have friends and family who have moved to other parts of the country to set up shops, restaurants and other related businesses or to find jobs where they don’t need to go to offices in the cities.

In some industries reversing paths can sometimes be viable solutions. In the business outsourcing industry, many BPO companies are beginning to embrace AI and remove human agents. There are some companies, however, who have gone the other way. They still embrace AI but they hire more people and retool them with different skill sets to augment their services.

Traffic problems can also be an area for backward solutions. EDSA bus lane violations seem to be a common sight recently. There was one netizen who suggested that, perhaps, reversing the bus lane direction can help solve the problem. In his proposal, buses going northbound should use the southbound bus lane while those going southbound should use the northbound bus lane. In theory, private vehicles cannot go in and out of the bus lanes because they will run into the buses going the other way. We can then add a proviso that buses who hit private vehicles in the bus lane will have zero liability, whatsoever. By violating the bus lane, private vehicle owners are already presumed liable in collisions under the present rules. We can make the liability as absolute and remove any circumstance that can make the bus driver liable.

In politics, issue inoculation by embracing criticisms can be a better tactic than defensive engagement. When people bash candidates or cite their faults, some candidates normally fight back with excuses or throw criticisms back. Some politicians, however, embrace these criticisms and apologize for their faults.

Perhaps, moving backward rather than forward would be a better solution when you face difficulties or problems the next time around.

This is my oblique observation.