from the commuter

The photos which I took myself are random images of commuting and life. Enjoy the ride!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Another feet post

My friend, Roxy, and I disagree on many things, but when she said that it's not nice for women to have ugly feet, I simply had to agree. If some are the 'armpit-kind-of-person', I am the foot-person.

I would highly encourage that all women should bring business to all the manicurists (and pedicurists?) of the world. Regular visits with friends to those feet centers for foot spa treatments and whatnot should be part of every woman's social calendar!

I feel that a woman's feet tell so many things about her. If a girl has ugly feet, she's a &!@;^#%$*  in my list! But later on, I had to make some slight modifications. I no longer looked for pinkish soles, and long and symmetrical toes; I have learned to understand that not all people are blessed! I understand that genetics plays a role in a any person's make-up.

Upon learning about my views on feet, a female friend tried to hide hers from me; she said, "Nahihiya ako. Parang luya and mga daliri ko sa paa." Yes, she was not lying since I saw those ginger-like appendages for myself. I really cannot fault her, and besides, her toes' main purpose was not for show-off, and she would still be a good friend even if she had herself amputated. So, I started having more lenient standards on my idea of a beautiful pair of feet: clean and fungus-free! That's all! I think a lot of other people would share the same view.

In a previous post (see 'feet'), I stressed the importance of feet in my life. Having a pair of feet complements a commuter's life, and it's just fitting that care and attention should be provided to them. How I love it when a pair of oily soft hands rub every muscle of my feet until my feet throb in redness! It's always a treat to see dead and rough skin being scrubbed off! I enjoy seeing my manicurists' able hands working on my cuticles. Then, I would make my cheap slippers look expensive as I wear them. But...just imagine the horror when what I thought to be a rare and uncommon skin rash turned out to be warts, plantar warts at that! I was damned! I never thought that the small thing affecting an unexposed area could cause me great embarrassment! Later on, it was causing me some discomfort. At that point, I realized that walking barefoot in wet areas shared by other people was not a very smart thing to do.

I read up on it to find out two words: Salicylic Acid. I doused my feet to what then I believe was more precious than water. I succeeded! Treating it took months, though.

Now, I'm just happy I've got feet. Now, the people whose feet I admire the most are the ones that walk with me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How do you keep your bus tickets?

Seeing the many tickets stuck in every known crevice of the bus, I know that bus has made its nth trip and has accommodated loads of passengers already. I, too, have somehow acquired that bad habit of sticking my bus ticket into any crack of the seat in front of me or of the window beside me. Everybody is doing it! I used to fold my ticket nicely and keep it inside my coin purse. In longer trips where tickets were inspected, I would slip the ticket nicely around my wrist watch. I was doing some good deed for mother earth by not being a litterbug, but the same cannot be said now. I was imbibing a commuting culture which I had initially deemed wrong. Can I be faulted for perpetuating a custom done by almost everyone?

Culture has given so many excuses for uniformity and social order. When the helmet law for motorcycle riders was enforced, our Indian brothers (Sikhs they were called I think) were exempted since they wore some kind of a turban, a religious accessory,  around their head. When all forms of motored vehicles were taxed and regulated, our kalesa had no regulating body to speak of. Since Filipinos have no notion of proper disembarkation, unconcerned police officers just let jeeps load and unload anywhere. Because corruption is the name of the game, we act oblivious to the transaction going on between the driver and the traffic enforcer.

Can there be an end to all the undesirable ways of the people if the people themselves seem to be tolerant of these ways? Can we completely blame culture?

It's good that I have not been taking buses lately.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dress Code

"Sa (a name of a school), long sleeves with tie ang uniform ng mga teachers."

"Ang hirap mag-commute non," my male co-teacher responded to me.

What is wrong with commuting wearing long sleeves? Is there a dress code for commuting?

I understood my co-teacher's reaction although I was not sure if his thoughts were exactly the same as mine.

Why won't or can't a tie-wearing commuter take a jeep?

Here are more questions:
1. Is it embarassing to be seen commuting while  in a business attire?
2. Is a formally-dressed person too good for a jeepney ride?
3. Is one expected to have car or cab money because he or she is wearing business clothes to work?
4. Is simple clothing the only acceptable attire when commuting?
5. Is a grand entrance necessary for a person in formal clothes?
6. Does riding jeeps diminish the value of the business attire worn?
7. Is it uncomfortable to wear long-sleeved shirts in jeepneys?
8. Does wearing long sleeves require an airconditioned vehicle for transportation?

I have to be honest that I would say yes to some of the questions I raised. I notice that for formal functions requiring a more formal attire, I would prefer taking the cab. I have also observed that others taking public transport come to work or to the function in ordinary travelling clothes only to change into the appropriate attire at the office or venue's rest rooms.

Again, I ask : Why won't or can't a tie-wearing commuter take a jeep?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jeepney crimes

A September 24, 2010 article about crime incidents involving commuters in Paranaque and Taguig came out. An excerpt:

   Police on Friday warned the public against crimes committed in the areas of Taguig and ParaƱaque, especially those carried out on commuters.

   The warning was issued following the arrest Thursday night of three suspects who were said to be victimizing jeepney passengers between the East Service Road in ParaƱaque City and SM Bicutan in Taguig City.

Isn't it too early for these kinds of crimes to be rampant? If I remember it right, these crimes should reach its peak in a month's time, in October or November, when people's wallets have their fill of their bonuses. For criminals, those months including December are their peak season, so they, too, can extravagantly enjoy the birth of our merciful Lord and Savior.

In reality, there isn't much that poor commuters can do when they are faced with gun-pointing devils whose purpose is to get their hard-earned money by use of either force or fear. I hear stories that jeepney-riding criminals indiscriminately take bags, wallets, cellphones and jewelry from passengers; they do this quickly. To prevent further harm, police advise not to fight back and to just give in to the criminals' demands. The whole of the 13th-Month Salary just for the robbers? No way! Something can be done.

One good money advise I learned is never to bring big amounts of money. I don't get to do this since I never get to hold big amounts of money, unless you consider a teacher's salary big. When I get my salary, I only withdraw small amounts or transfer the whole amount to another account. These transactions I do in secured locations like banks and malls. How about in the absence of banks? How do you carry money when you are in transit?

Add caption
I hear the most inventive ways to carry money. People particularly from the province who come to the big city bringing with them loads of cash in their person and market vendors after spending the day from work do any of the following:

1. They stick money inside their underwear specifically inside the bras of women. It is always amusing to see them pay the fare as they get the money from their bra!
2. They fold paper bills nicely and place them inside their shoes. One-hundred pesos worth of coins will simply not work here. Caps may also be used.
3. They use unconventional money containers such as plastic shopping bags and handkerchiefs.

For people carrying luggage, they have what it takes for them to be good smugglers, drug couriers and customs tax evaders! They surely know how to hide stuff! Known and unknown hiding places are among the underwear, inside document envelopes and books, and inside small unassuming pouches and small hidden pockets of the luggage.

Despite the precautions commuters take, there is always an existing threat coming from these bad elements. I would really like to think that with our vigilance and the police's response, all the criminals will be stamped out soon. But, of course, you perfectly know that this is just my wishful thinking.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chivalry gone

"Hindi ka gentleman, noh?" my gentleman friend said.

I knew the answer to this question.

My friend must have observed a few commuting instances, or maybe more, that led him to his opinion of me. I guess, for my friend, chivalry can best be seen in commuting among other venues and situations. I think he saw me not offering my seat to a female companion while we were on on board a train.

I feel that I don't owe anybody an explanation for my actuations. If you don't like me, then don't!

BUT this certainly got me thinking. Despite my "I-don't-care" attitude, I wanted to be likeable to a certain extent. I never aim to be everybody's favorite although to be liked by at least two people would be more than great! And maybe that gentlemanly trait might just win me at least one 'like.'

Since I want some 'likes' as in Facebook, I shall explain.

For the longest time, I have been commuting alone; actually, I prefer doing it alone. I have been trained for aggression, in so far as commuting is concerned. "Nandyan na!" The sight of a jeep approaching was my cue. My years of commuting experience has made jostling my second-best skill next to sleeping. This is the reality in Manila, whether you take a jeep, a bus, or the train in terminals where queuing does not exist.  Less aggression would leave you 'ride-less.' This mindset has made me forget other things, including companions. All that was in  my mind was to get in no matter what and sit comfortably. This behavior is dangerous, though. I don't recall getting in fights for doing this, but I nearly injured a woman inside a jeep many years ago in Zamboanga. When a nearly-filled jeep halted, I hopped inside it nearly pushing an alighting woman back to her seat. For a brief moment I saw fear in her and for the seven-month baby in her womb. I felt miserable after. That was a lesson learned. Never charge a pregnant woman or anyone for that matter. I have learned to let people get out of the vehicle first before entering. This is a simple commuter rule yet I learned it the most stupid way.

I still have that agility to seize any seat although I have conducted myself in a more acceptable behavior since that pregnant woman incident. Commuting in Manila taught me more desirable things may it be in commuting or about life in general ,and so did my Manila education. I had feminist teachers for my countless literature classes in Manila. They tried to imprint in my mind 'women power.' I think they have successfully did that as I am very far from being a male chauvinist pig --- a pig maybe but never a chauvinist! hehe. The simple tenet of feminism, "men and women are equal" found its way into my long-term memory that is so easy to retrieve anytime. Hence, if women get tired standing on buses, so do men. (Dear ladies, just leave your comments in the comment box. Thank you!)

Lastly, I have to put my dear mother in this conversation. My wonderful mother has made all of her sons feel like they were princes. My dear mother made everything comfortable for her sons and her daughters who were to come much later. Hence, I am accustomed to comfort. Thus, I want to sit  in jeeps or on buses, and, yes, I am selfish. As a result, I am not gentleman.

They say that one's demeanor is a reflection of one's character, and that it is difficult to change especially when it is deeply rooted in one's childhood. This maybe true or maybe half true, but the truth remains that things can still change, and that the word 'effort' is invented for a reason.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Travel mates

A cliche: "It's not about the destination; it's how you get there."

No. It is still about the destination. hehe.

But the getting there part could be just as memorable as the destination especially if you have good company travelling or commuting with you. Just what makes a good company? I can't seem to answer this as I, myself, do not think I am a good travel companion; however, my being a 'not good' travel mate highlights the goodness in others. No travel story is ever good without conflicts; same goes for stories! Travelling in groups especially a group trip that is well planned shouldn't go wrong UNLESS you have companions who can't seem to jell well with the group. These people should be last seen at the terminals or detained at the immigration! hehe. I am lucky, though, that the people I travel with know how to adapt and are sensitive to others. Travelling in small number is always preferred; the group's manageability should always be considered.

Since I cannot talk about my experiences as a good companion, I shall base my list on my observations done on whom I call good travel mates.

1. They smell good most of the time. It is quite acceptable to sense a slight change in odor towards the latter part of the day.
2. They are game!
3. They aren't bossy. Inang demokrasya should prevail!
4. They are sensitive and adaptive.
5. They are physically fit for long walks and running.
6. They have their own money!
7. They are literates. Map-reading 101 grade should be at least B+.
8. They are attentive.
9. Their stomach clocks are synchronized with others.
10. They are never late.

This list may still be improved or increased. My commute and travel have mostly been done alone. If and when I get to travel in groups more often, I would probably know more, and eventually take on their good traits to become a better travel companion.

Now, who wants to take me to the moon?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Metro air quality worsening :Poor, commuters affected

I am reposting excerpts of a September 21, 2010 article on pollution. The complete article is in this link.
  • The quality of the air that residents of Metro Manila breathe has worsened, prompting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to launch a crackdown on smoke-belchers along one of the busiest thoroughfares in the metropolis.
  • Former Environment Secretary Elisea Gozon, now a director of the Earth Day Network, said the dire air quality in the city was adversely affecting the poor and commuters.
  • A 2007 World Bank report said air pollution was a major cause of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in the Philippines, costing the country P7.6 billion annually, she said.
  • The World Bank report is bolstered by a study by the University of the Philippines’ College of Medicine, which showed that more than 50 percent of the medicines sold in the country are for respiratory ailments.
  • Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said motor vehicles were the main source of pollution in the metropolis, accounting for as much as 80 percent of the pollution. The rest comes from industrial sources.
  • Paje said the increase in total suspended particles (TSP) could be attributed to the worsening traffic in Metro Manila. The longer a vehicle is stranded on jam-packed streets, the more pollutants it emits, he said.
  • The main pollutants are “jeepneys, buses, and tricycles,” as many of these vehicles are old models and have inefficient emission systems, he said.
  • There are 5 million tricycles in the country of which 2.8 million are in Metro Manila, according to the DENR. Motorcycles contribute about 20 million cubic meters of pollution load every year, the agency said.
  • People who live 500 meters from major roads like EDSA are significantly at risk of asthma, lung diseases, heart attacks, strokes and cancer, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) read.
  • The agency will also introduce electric tricycles in the Philippines to encourage operators and drivers to switch to the cleaner vehicle.
My notes:

I thought that I was actually helping fight pollution by commuting. Now I am troubled. This can have a major impact on the lives of commuters and PUV operators. I shall wait and see what lies ahead.


Now, this blog post can also cater to the rich! I am talking about planes, after riding planes! If you are among the ultra rich who have their own planes, go to or something else. hehe

I recently took a trip to Malaysia. I won't be talking about commuting in Malaysia, which is, by the way, a whole lot more convenient than in our sweet Manila; instead I want to talk about the trip from our airport.

 A KL street
Going home, after being away for some time, is something to look forward to. I could never get tired of looking out of the plane to see Manila's 'smoggy' yet welcoming skyline. The adage 'no place like home' has never been more true to a person whose identity was stamped as 'tourist from the third world' for a brief time. But this label I am proud of! I was a tourist; I contributed to my host country's economy, and it was not just a cheap contribution if I may add. It was hard-earned money. My tourist money made me see their country's beautiful spots which happened to be just about every nook and cranny of Kuala Lumpur. This got me thinking about Pinas. When we landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, I looked around hoping to be impressed by what I would see. I wanted to see beauty, and I managed to see some. The Filipino in me wanted that the same impression I got from KL should also be what foreign tourists would feel when they visit our country. The airport, though not as modern, was clean and cold;  the airport's security and information personnel were helpful. Good enough I said.

Out of the airport and into Manila, I conditioned my mind into thinking like a tourist. My question was, "If I were a tourist who was on a first-time visit to Manila, what impression would the city streets give me?" The route I took led me home in Paranaque. The answer to my own question was sad. The streets reflected what we are as a country. Along the way, there were efforts to conceal eyesores using billboards and superficial painting. Would my impression change had my house been in Makati or in Quezon City? I don't think so. I feel bad for my country. But when I heard the jeepney horns and laughter and saw ladies with plastic bags running across the streets, I was quickly reminded of the charm my country had over the others. Despite our poverty, we are able to laugh boisterously at just about anything; our dinners are filled with laughter and stories; beautiful men and women populate the streets; our freedom is not restricted. When I think about these, I feel glad I am home although I cannot completely stop myself from hoping....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

God on board!

I was just my usual self when the woman in front of me started blurting "Handa na ba kayo sa pangalawang pagdating ng ating diyos?" The scene was not uncommon. The 'diyos' word was a clue for most of us in the jeep to ignore the woman whom we know was to go on forever about 'life after death' and 'salvation.' The woman who appeared normal continued.

"Hindi lamang ang diyos ama, anak at ispiritu ang tutulong sa atin. Ang pang-apat na banal na katauhan ang s'yang tutulong sa atin - Si diyos ina!"

Now the holy trinity has a new fourth member! I had the misfortune of sitting directly in front of her. Establishing eye contact was avoided yet there was no way to avoid her preaching. I did not have my headset with me then. I knew that most kept an ear for her lecture but did not show it. Everybody in the jeep knew where this was heading - an envelope for her good news. But we were wrong! She instead offered her pamphlets and other reading materials to the indifferent. She stepped down with her materials in their original number.

I think it's funny how, once in a while, God reminds us of His presence. I am happy I am reminded. I am equally grateful for the churches that the jeeps pass through, for without them, I won't be seeing good Christians doing the sign of the cross; it's through them and their gesture that I am often reminded that there is a God with us in our commute.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Linguistics in Commuting

"Mwah! Mwah! Mwah!" These will get you to the biggest mall in Asia (MOA- Mall of Asia)!

Whether you say "BuenJA" or "BuenDIYA" or "BuenDYA," you are sure to get there.

For commuters, pronunciation does not matter; you just have to make sure that one of two syllables is recognizable. When you take a jeep, you'd make out the origin of the passengers when they announce their destination to the whole world. A lady said, "Bee-ip Mcdo" for BF Mcdo. Farther down you'd hear someone say "Port State" for Fourth Estate, the subdivision fronting the Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, Paranaque. Near my place is "Lupis" for some, which is actually Lopez. Their way of saying places will still get them to where they are supposed to go; the absent-minded usually misses.

A jeepney or bus ride is a rich source of linguistic data. I think the major linguistic groups are represented by at least one speaker in a jeep or on a bus. This goes to say that we have the Philippines properly represented on any public vehicle. That being said, I am not very particular with sounds and pronunciation when I talk to common folks; there is no way that I could use the Call Center English I learned some months back.

My teacher calls the understood mispronunciation used by many as "Folk Pronunciation." I think it's acceptable to use folk pronunciation in jeepneys, markets and streets. Not a single person would really care as long he is understood.

Many are very particular with the pronunciation of English words, even Filipino words. This is understandable since we claim to have English as a second language. The pressure is there to have a near-native sound at least. But can we expect the same from people whose exposure to English is maybe limited to some TV commercials and unintelligible English teachers? Even when we do have some exposure to whatever English, are we assured that our inherited sound system won't get in the way?

"Bahala na! Basta 'yun na 'yon."

Commuting and Poverty

I was walking behind two Grade 7 girls when I heard one say in her posh village English, "I will never ever ride a jeep." She said this while motioning a 'never' using her index finger. She smelled rich; her skin confirmed so (I allude to Gretchen Baretto's kutis mayaman). I only caught that part of their conversation. I was puzzled. I wanted to know why. I thought of reasons for her saying that. I surmised she was 13. When I was her age, I already had years of experience in commuting, particularly taking the jeep. One thought I had was, "Does riding a jeep make one poor?"  I was saddened by my own thought.

I have to admit that when I would go to the less affluent areas of Alabang or Paranaque, I would see a different view. Usually, on buses or in jeeps, the picture I saw around me made me see my fortune in the misfortune of others. For that I was forever grateful. Later on, I realized it was wrong to be thinking that way. It was wrong of me to find misery  in others only so I could feel better about myself. How could I be thinking of that when we were practically on the same boat, or on the same bus for that matter! When I commute to the more affluent areas of Alabang, I would wonder if the rich people's wealth is amplified because of the jeepney-riding citizens passing by their luxury cars and homes.

When people are born to poverty, it does not necessarily mean that they should live their entire life poor.  Every nameless person I see on the bus or outside would want some slice of luxury, or is it just me? I'll take refuge on the idea that other people don't think the way I do. Good for them!

I shall end this with a prayer.

Lord, source of all wealth and power,
let me live the life I deserve,
a life without envy or contempt,
a life of gratitude and praise.


Monday, September 13, 2010

The Workout called Commuting

Since I take four rides to work, I have to make sure that my going to work serves other purposes as well. I usually take a trip to the gym.  I do my cardio, work on some equipment. Yes, the effort is there to lose some weight. I intend to keep my butt size to average since I take jeepneys a lot (Read Upong Piso). In the process of going to the gym , I think I become more agile, flexible and faster.These are what Super-Commuters should possess in times of rushhours. Most of the time, I manage to get a seat and sometimes not. There is a rush in me when jostling happens; I forget some jeepney or bus manners when I'm pressed for time. I MUST TAKE THE BUS NOW! It's like the game, Trip to Jerusalem, where players look for seats, and the unfortunate and sluggish player leaves the game. Fun! Fun! Fun! No, not all the time. In the real life Bus Trip to Destination game, you either (a) leave or take another bus, (b) stand throughout the trip, or (c) squeeze yourself into whatever space left. These are realities experienced by most Manila Commuters. Now, we're just warming up.

For our cardio, athletics comes in. Imagine running after a bus or jeep along a NO LOADING Zone. Track and Field you call it. If we miss our ride, a training in walkathon would come in handy. The required twenty minutes a day to keep a healthy heart is observed by most commuters. We probably would not die of heartattack, but we certainly are candidates for lung problems.

As for the workout, we do a lot of free weights coupled  with cardio. Backpacks, document folders, plastic and papers bags constitute the weights; we carry these as we go about our business around town. We don't have to enroll in a gym to experience sauna or steam as heat-producing places abound for commuters. Nothing beats  natural heat.

Our cool down is that short tricycle ride to our house or that short walk that leads us closer to the welcoming embrace of our family. It is only then we give out our biggest sigh of relief on our commuter workout, and start anew on another workout waiting for us at home. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


If I had chosen to work in a school in Makati, I would be spending around P 200++ a day on fare and food. I realized that a day's food and fare allowance in Makati would be able to pay for a whole year's education of one student in this school I'm teaching in, and yet some of my students wouldn't easily be able to shell out that much come enrollment. I teach in this mission-driven school inside a posh subdivision in the southern Manila area. Some students of mine are children of househelps, or househelps themselves. Some are working students while others are children of regular Filipino families who desire a good yet inexpensive secondary education.

Since the school is in this posh village, commuters can only take the recognized jeeps made for village transport. On my way to work one day, I happened to take the jeep with my student. Our small talk began.

"Bakit ka absent kahapon?"

"Nagkaproblema, sir, sa bahay ng amo ko," he respectfully replied.

"Ahh...ok." I did not want the talk to continue as I sensed it was not supposed to be discussed with me.

"Ninakawan po kasi yung bahay. Inimbistagahan ako ng mga security." He continued, "Wala naman ako palagi sa bahay. Kasama ko amo ko palagi."

I listened to his story although my eyes were fixed on the road ,and without me noticing, he was handing P 14.00 to the driver. "Dalawa po 'yan."

There was something wrong there. I hurriedly looked for my purse and gave him the same amount. He refused. I didn't push it since I felt he had sincere intentions on paying for the both us. But I planned to pay for the both of us, too. It's in one of my jeepney fare treat rules (see 1.2. below). I felt bad and thought of the extra seven pesos he had to spend on me.

This got me thinking as to what dictates paying for someone else's fare? I have my own guidelines as to when one can shoulder someone else's fare.

1. Relationships
1.1. A boyfriend to a girlfriend
1.2. A teacher to a student
1.3. A parent to minor children
1.4. An older and wealthier family member to a less-fortunate relative
1.5. A boss to a subordinate
1.6. A husband to his wife
1.7. A working adult child to his/her parents or grandparents
1.8. A richer friend to his/her poorer friends
1.9. An ordinary person to a bloodsucking free loader
1.10. An eager friend to a long-lost friend
1.11. A pretentious person to people who believe that the person is moneyed
1.12. A former student to his/her retired teacher
1.13. A boy to a girl whom he is courting
1.14. A genuinely good person to others

2. Conditions
2.1. It's one's first pay check or payday.
2.2. One has extra cash.
2.3. It's a favor being returned.
2.4. It's culture.
2.5. There's only one person to pay for.

The list can vary from person to person. Treating one for fare is still subject to certain conditions.

I explicitly did not include to write worker to a co-worker, although this is a practice of many, because it is not to happen while I'm in my present department. A senior member of the department during the early days of my commuting to school said, "Sir, kanya-kanya tayo dito ah." Huh? Like I would ask anything from her. I have seven pesos in my wallet noh! That was one of the very few exchanges I had with her. I plan to keep it that way.  She is so not like my student whose gesture will be rewarded in heaven, but while here on earth , he will be rewarded as I think of him when I work on the conduct grades. God bless him!

Monday, September 6, 2010


Proceed with caution. Dirty graphic content in this post.

Back home in Mindanao when we were younger, we would illustrate the seriousness of the pollution problem in Manila by saying this, "You would know you're in Manila when you pick your nose and then you'd see that your fingertip is all black," and then we would check our respective noses to examine the quality of air in Zamboanga. Zamboanga's air quality is still at an acceptable level, my fingertip would say.

Living in Manila, I had to live with pollution every day. There is little protection against pollution when you're out in an open vehicle that is plying the treeless avenues of Manila. I dread taking EDSA, one of Metro Manila's main thoroughfares. I don't need a 'pick-my-nose' meter to gauge the gravity of the air pollution problem of Manila; sometimes, my oily face does that. (You may stop reading if you find this post repulsive; there is more to say) To add further harm, I usually catch colds after. If you would tell me to avoid EDSA, I would answer "I can't. I couldn't!" All the great malls are along it. hehe. Here in the south of Manila, I can say that it is not as bad, but I wouldn't know until when. Typhoons and other not-so-friendly weather disturbances keep on uprooting the remaining trees in the area, and EDSA is extending all the way to the south with the skyway extensions being built around.

So what do I do?

Call me stubborn, but I wouldn't be caught wearing a (surgical) mask or anything similar outside even if my life were to depend on it. Take a closed vehicle? Oh, sure I would any time of the day, but my bank account would not permit me. Much to my dismay, I could not think of a solution to this pollution problem facing my tribe. My health is important to me. For now, I'd like to think those tablets called vitamin C are doing their job.

As for my "pick-my-nose" meter, I have long established its reliability after staying here in Manila for many years. In fact, I have retired this process and put my fingers to other worthy causes. Now, my laundrywoman gets the same air quality readings as I do. The black dots on my white handkerchief give away everything. She tells me "Kadiri na ano?" She says it all.

Manila's pollution problems shouldn't just be the concern of a particular group of people. It's everybody's. Even the likes of my laundrywoman are also affected; they attribute their longer washing hours to their trying to take out the dirt on countless collars and sleeves and handkerchiefs!

There really shouldn't be any disgusting posts like this one.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Businesses and commuters

Commuter and Jollibee have had the kind of relationship that most parents would disapprove of, yet like any relationship, the lovers will always find a way to withstand all. We can never blame Jollibee, really; he's just everywhere. He's there for Commuter when rain hits her, when she heeds the call of nature, or when she wants to quench her thirst. She, in turn, will have to give in to his welcoming embrace, robbing her off some of her values.But she would always have a reason to come back.

 Now, how do I say that Jollibee has increased its meals by at least three pesos with that kind of introduction?


It doesn't take a sociologist to determine the kind of people frequenting Jollibee. During weekends or pay day weekends, Jollibee has a reliable sample population that is representative of the Philippines' demographics. How I enjoy observing families, couples, and friends eating out. I especially like the sincere laughter and the joy in the eyes of the children as they gobble up their regular Yum Burger and play their Jolly Kiddie Meal toys that their parents indulgently bought for them. They make Jollibee their last stop before heading towards the bus and jeep terminal nearby.

Maybe, now, a bit of joy and laughter would cost three pesos more. I would like to think that I wouldn't mind paying extra for my small share of happiness.  

Will commuter still be coming back to him?

Jollibee is but one of the many establishments powered by the wage-earning Filipinos. Another worth looking into is the enterprising Filipinos that bank on the patronage of commuters and drivers. Jeepney and bus terminals make a good specimen. The entrepreneurs know they certainly wouldn't run out of customers.

One concrete example is this store near a jeep terminal in Alabang. It was interesting to see a store thriving six feet above ground level. When I saw this, I was curious as to how transactions are made in this store. As far as I know, the average Filipino is five feet and few inches tall!

I took a closer look to see the merchandise. They had candies, bottled drinks and cup noodles! Amazing!

No one can seem to stop an enterprising Pinoy from doing his thing. In a covered walkway in Las Pinas, another southern Manila city, it is evident that he plans to make his fortune from the pedestrians. Towards the end of this walkway is a tricycle terminal. There used to be stalls along this walkway, but it's gone now.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Outside my university, during my freshmen year,  I learned some very valuable lessons which were to aid me in the commuter life I would lead later on. INVEST IN A GOOD UMBRELLA, PAIRS OF FOOTWEAR and VITAMIN C's!

Discussing this is very timely since it's the rainy season again. How interesting and distressing Manila is when she transforms into a lake! It's not good to be a commuter during these watery times: our leather shoes' lifespan dimishes, we become prone to sickness and other water-borne diseases, we are left stranded in the city's 'highlands', vehicular traffic is on a standstill and many others that compound the misadventures of a Manila traveller.

When I was younger, bathing in rain was a natural thing to do. To feel and taste the rain was a delight, but to do it now at this time and in Manila would be kissing death. To stay away from the rain would be the better option. Filipinos also want to play.

Manila's weather, and the Philippines' in general, has influenced much of the Filipino commuters' daily knapsack content. Must haves are:

a. Umbrella. Folded umbrella is the preferred choice.
b. Slippers. Save those leather shoes!
c. Plastic bags. In absence of slippers, people wrap their feet in plastic bags.
d. Alcohol. A dip in the water requires heavy disinfection afterwards!
e. Plastic document folders or envelops. They substitute for umbrellas.
f. Raincoats or hooded jackets.
g. Tissue/'Bimpo'/Face towel. Wipe those raindrops away!
h. Loose coins. The 'padjak' guys make a killing during the rainy season and so do the 'bridgeway guards.' 

In reality, Filipinos could do away with any of these. The best weapon they have in their bags is their ingenuity that never fails to save the day.

PS. The comment box is there for a reason. Hehe.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cultured Commuters

This is a sight the people frequenting the Cultural Center of the Philippines do not get to see. Fresh from Basilan, and bearing their distinct scent and naturally-dyed hair, the young Badjao performers donning their authentic street clothes staged their performances on jeeps. The lead female dancer moved her shoulders to the beat of the authentic Badjao music drummed by her male companion using an ingenious pair of drums made of PVC pipes. The dancer alternately lifted her shoulders to also show the finger movements which were set to the heart's beat. But no applause would be heard. The young performers handed their envelopes to the unappreciative audience who ignored their appeal for donation, and then they stepped down for another performance elsewhere.

In my mind, they would have had the perfect opportunity to showcase their talent to the common folks. Much of the jeepney-riding population's cultural experience, I think, is limited to television shows and Sunday park activities and whatnot. The Badjaos, an ethnic group from Western Mindanao, was an entertainment for me, but for the rest of the passengers, they were just money-making dancing beggars. I couldn't blame everyone else for thinking this way. I have heard of syndicates using kids to solicit money. The dancers weren't at all different from other mendicants.

On hindsight, I was happy that the young ones were perpetuating their culture; Manila youth nowadays wouldn't know how to dance the Carinosa or the Pandango sa Ilaw unless taught or required by their P.E. teacher. But a more important realization would be the perpetuation of the culture of begging. Do we want to increase their tribe and populate our streets? We have the say in this; after all, we, commuters and motorists, seem to be the patrons of their cultural and economic, and even criminal causes.