Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This was published in the April 13, 2011 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.


I didn’t think bad luck would strike so soon after my flat tire a week ago Sunday. But it did. I lost my car keys last Friday, at a family and friends golf tournament in Canlubang Country Club.

It’s no joke losing a car key that far away from civilization, not only is the long trip a hassle but the cost of fuel and toll fees for two cars is quite steep. And that’s assuming there is a friend or relative who would be sympathetic enough to lend a car to fetch my stranded vehicle. Thankfully, after a lot of explaining and begging, I was able to borrow my wife’s car.

On Saturday, I drove to Canlubang thinking my problems were over. Then I discovered that a spare key does not shut off a car’s anti-theft alarm. It’s the remote control device attached to the key that does that. Sadly, my spare device was broken. Nevertheless, I soldiered on.

I tried to fool the alarm by locking the car and then unlocking it after starting the engine. It didn’t work. The alarm didn’t shut down.  I then disconnected the car battery hoping that after reconnection the alarm would not remember that I got in the car with a spare key. The alarm remembered and made it a point to let everybody know that it did.

I was stumped. It’s hard enough to fool a car alarm when one is not a car thief; it’s ridiculous when one has to think of ways to do it while the alarm is screaming loud enough to wake policemen dozing off in a noodle house.

My driver must have noticed I looked lost because he spoke up and suggested we disable the alarm. Drivers in the parking lot who were waiting for their Mams and Sirs thought the suggestion made perfect sense. I had my doubts. Debates ensued.

To make a long story short, we took a vote to settle the issue. The disablers won. I was the lone dissenting vote.

We found the alarm in the boot of the car and disconnected it. I inserted the key in the ignition and turned it. The car did not start. The car was dead and so was my faith in democracy.

My driver had another bright idea. He said he was going to reconnect the alarm and then disconnect it after I started the car. The tricked worked. We beat the alarm. I guess that proves any man, no matter how stupid, can undo another man’s work, no matter how brilliantly made. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, I guess it’s a question of whose side you’re on.

The lost key experience also made me wonder whether or not anti-theft alarms unwittingly encourage carjackings. It seems pointing a gun takes less time than picking locks and disabling alarms. It’s so sad to witness practicality kill art.

Anyway, they say bad luck comes in threes. It’s hit me twice so I have one more incident coming. But I’m not complaining. As the song goes, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”