from the commuter

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

Thursday, November 25, 2010


My monthly obligation with 'LOVE' (PAG-IBIG) requires me to travel to Makati Atrium. The stretch of Makati Avenue is not very friendly to non-car owners. The stretch is not frequented by jeeps; cabs,  as you know,  are costly. So when a small green conveyance that looked like a jeepney stopped in front of me, I took notice. On its windshield was a marker of its route, and it said "Landmark." No Makati visit is ever complete without dropping by Glorietta. I hopped on it immediately only to be greeted with one more surprise! The ride was free! Hooray!


I was on one E-jeepney, an electric-powered vehicle,  plying a circular route around the Makati Business District. Its body is painted green and that particular jeep could accomodate 15 passengers. The ride was a thrill. You would probably never understand the excitement of a provinciano passing through all those skyscrapers. I did not mind being slightly late for my 10 am appointment at Glorietta. All throughout the trip, though, I kept my eyes alert for the 'Landmark' as most of the streets and buildings were foreign to me, being a 'southern' citizen and all.  The ride, I'd say, is not for anyone who is in a hurry for it takes its sweet time to go by all those streets.

One interesting observation I made was the passengers' attitude towards that  free ride. The driver was not demanding any fare; behind the driver's seat, there was a donation box whose opening was large enough for an unfolded bill. The box was placed conspicuously for a reason. I was so happy about it, and I supported it that I donated 10 pesos! That's three pesos more than a minimun fare! My donation will surely go a long way for the environment. Some dropped a few coins into box, too; others, I supposed, gave their donations in forms of silent prayers. There was one whom I  heard saying "Thank you" before going down.

The free ride worked like any ordinary jeep. The driver would ask if anyone was getting off at a particular street. The passenger would respond, and they would even inform the driver of their destination.

I got interested in this transportation and googled it up to find out that it had been around since 2007! I also learned that the E-jeepney was a result of the concerted effort of various environmental groups including Greenpeace. Reading about this, I was thrilled and saddened at the same time. I was elated to know we had technology for this, but was sorry to discover that Makati seemed to be the only place enjoying this.

I hope I'll not forget to drop an additional peso in my next use of the e-jeepney.

More on e-jeepney by clicking on this link and this.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Despite his choice of public transport, Commuter craves for luxury once in a while. Occasional trips to restaurants and places would be those. But he aimed one kind of luxury to be enjoyed for the rest of his life. The commuter's choice of luxury, if you can call it that, would be a condominium unit which he would acquire through PAG-IBIG.

After four years of dormitory living in college, and several years with Tita during his early working years, he looked for a place he could call his own. And he did. He did overtime work, accepted tutorials, edited books for a private company and lived a pauper's life for a year (and still does) to own a piece of property in the metro. He recalls his poor moments  and  feels proud everytime people express admiration and even envy for his small studio unit. He considers it to be his achievement to have a property to his name, with very limited help from family and friends.

In his place, he is welcomed by guards after getting off the jeep. When a large portion of Paranaque City was bathing in deepwell water, here he was swimming in Maynilad water in the condo's swimming pool. Affordable eating places and grocery stores abound, too.  It suffices to say that he is happy with his place.

In his 30 square meter-mansion, he is king. However, his little sister, who studies in Manila, takes her rightful place as princess and maid at the same time. He doesn't mind having his sister live with him; that's the most he could do  for her parents, which is to look after their daughter and give her a training in domestic life. She washes his clothes, prepares him her saltiest adobo, and helps pay his electric bills. Fun, right?

Lately, he has not been wanting to go home. He finds ways and reasons to be out of the house. He wants to be away.

You see,  he is the only one with a place in Manila; his place seems to be the perfect place to crash for his Mindanao relatives. Yes, they are welcome. Yes, they are family. Yes, they are grateful for his 'hospitality.' But it is when the small studio is full of voices that he is truly reminded why he got the unit in the first place.

He paid a big price for something he wanted.  He now pays a bigger price for something he does not want. He would now exchange his dwelling for the cheap price of privacy.

My Home Sweet Home

Thursday, November 18, 2010


We sat for more than an hour listening to an environmental talk. The bottom line was "Help Save the Environment!" Talks like that are good but are sometimes boring and add little to what we already know. Netizens and schooled individuals would be aware of these issues, and I'd like to believe that these people are doing their share in the solution. What irked me though was that speaker was talking to the wrong crowd when he presented some solutions. He talked at length about carpooling, and he was talking to middle income employees who would take the first chance at carpooling if they have someone to carpool with. Many from the audience, who were mostly teachers and staff, do not have those smoke-producing conveyances that the speaker was talking about.  The few co-workers with cars generously offer a ride home; my school principal does that.

To whom should the speaker be talking then? The people with cars, of course! But carpool appears to be a foreign idea even to the rich, the ones I know. In my six years teaching the rich, I was asked to ride in their car only once, and for that simple gesture, I will forever remember that student of mine:  Natasha. In most instances when I walk to the jeepney stop, which is fifty meters away from the school gate, my students would just wave at me and, worst, ignore me. Since then, I have stopped wishing for a ride. They are not really required to give me a ride. Their cars are theirs, and they have spent a great deal of money for something they want to enjoy for themselves. Like them, I'd like to have my almond chocolate bar all by myself, too.

All I am saying here is that a message should be delivered to the person concerned. That will be my concern when I get a car. For now, I am thankful I have friends like My-Secateur and Cardriver whose simple gesture of giving me a ride not only helps the environment but also helps me! Hehe! ( Read related post.)

I have had a good education where love for environment is greatly instilled. I'll do whatever I can in my own capacity to help, with or without a car. 

Monday, November 15, 2010


My father used to own a motor bike, the vehicle of choice for many middle-class. I don't regret not ever learning to ride it; it is learning the (mechanical) bike at a rather late age that I regret. We had bikes since we were small, but I never got to learn biking. It was during my college summer break back home when I mustered all courage to learn the bike on my own. At 17, with big built and facial hair and all,  I was like an excited kid  discovering the joys of biking. Although not confident, I would take the main road of our subdivision only to slow down when a car is approaching or is behind me.  The thrill it gave me was all worth the scratches and fear!

Nothing remains of our two-wheeled transportation now. Good fortune has afforded my parents with four-wheeled vehicles which I don't drive. I miss biking when I go home. I might take it up as a hobby when I have more money and when I don't live in a building anymore. However, there is a something with two wheels that I don't think I would want to be hopping on.

Few days a go, I accompanied my class to an outreach at Elsie Gaches, a center in Alabang, whose clients are those with special needs. I thought we were going to cheer up kids, which was the usual thing in the outreaches I had gone to. I was wrong. We were lead to a pavilion to see its residents, men and women of all ages, lying on several mattresses, except for one. Further inside, there were some who were inside cribs, and they weren't babies. I had to admit that I didn't prepare myself for the sight. There were twenty-plus people whose legs and arms appeared to have shrunk. Their appendages looked deformed.

We were to begin our reach out activity. The wheelchairs were wheeled inside; a big man carried each client onto the wheelchair; some were even strapped. As instructed, my students paired up and took a client for a 'walk.' Fifteen pairs of students wheeled the clients on the paved and rolling areas of the center. It was hard telling the clients' emotions about the whole thing; some did show approval by uttering unintelligible sounds while a few managed to smile.  There was but one client who walked on foot, however. I suspected he was born of one foreign parent because of his obvious non-Filipino features. Still, two student accompanied him for he was visually impaired.

The walk took twenty minutes. We headed back to the pavilion for the feeding activity. A number needed assistance in eating while the rest crowded the dining table in the center of the room. The sight drew more emotions from me, but I held a straight face, the reassuring kind, the one telling my students they were doing the right thing. Hate me, but I had to admit it was not the kind of place for me. My teaching vocation came a distant second to the dedication and compassion the staff of the center gave each client.

I am extremely proud of my students, though. Although poor themselves, they saw how blessed they still were. The outreach was more for them, and it achieved its objectives. We went back to school tired, but rich in experience. I, personally, had my own share of realizations. If I were to be wheeled in a wheelchair, I want it to be someone who would do it for me and not for the experience nor the money. But more importantly, I would want to keep these legs, Lord.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I saw an old woman commute today. "Kay taas naman nito," she said as she struggled to bring herself up the jeep, together with four plastic grocery bags, all were filled and appeared heavy. She requested if she could take the seat nearest the entrance; the passengers including myself obliged. Her wrinkly hands groped for some coins inside her bag. She placed her fare on someone else's hand and shouted, "Senior, ma." Three minutes passed and her four-peso change did not reach her. In faltering voice, she said, "'Yung sampu, senior 'yon. D'yan lang sa tabi." Her voice was inaudible to the driver; the other passengers helped relay the message. When she finally got her change back, she studied the four coins with great scrutiny. When she finally reached her destination at an intersection, she said, "Para sa tabi lang ho." This  time the driver heard her but went on driving. "Go na po. Sa kabila na lang." It was twenty meters from where she was to get off. She secured all her stuff and slowly alighted from the jeep. "Pakibilisan po, " said the driver as he was getting a honk from a sedan behind him. The poor woman did as instructed although there was some difficulty. As she was left on the road, only then did I get to see that her back was bent and her body frail. The last image before losing sight of her was that of an old woman bearing a heavy load waiting for the busy street to clear.

I thought of my mother when this was taking place. Episodes like this one never fail to reinforce my desire to help my parents in their old age. I always had this idea that life after retirement should be a bliss. That old woman shouldn't be experiencing whatever she was experiencing, but there really was no way of changing that. Sad but true, life is different for everybody. I cannot feel pity for the her because taking pity on someone does not help. I'd rather feel nothing than pity her and do nothing.

At work, I examine my life based on what has transpired. I realized that every brand new day is a day closer to old age. More than ever I feel the need to reassess my life and work for something better. No better time than now to act for my future. I must do something about my state. The choices I make now will determine the life my parents and I will have, but more importantly mine.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Required reading

I studied Literature in college, and reading books, lengthy ones at that, was simply unavoidable. They were called required readings, and I had to drag my eyeballs left and right for the novels I didn't quite like. Eventually, I saw wisdom in the novels my teachers gave me. I suppose the authors of those books are extra happy that their works have somehow touched the life of at least one reader.

The contents here are far from literary; however, this blog, no matter how trivial and shallow it may appear to others, is something I can call an extension of myself. Thus, it is  made out of love. I wanted to share my thoughts with people, particularly my friends. I did heavy promotion through Facebook and text messaging because, finally, I wanted my friends to hear me out also after my long-time role of being the ear. I still am, by the way; I take pride in my ability to listen and shut up. When they started reading or peeking, I became very happy. They made commuter smile because of the increasing pageviews seen on his 'stats.' Their gesture was an indicator of their support for me. You have no idea what it meant to me.

I don't expect them to read the blog regularly. Actually, I don't think they will ever visit again. I happen to befriend mostly non(blog)-readers. But it's ok. I will write for the nine people who follow me. Hehehe. But there is always the 'hey-read-n'yo-naman-blog-ko' attitude once in a while. That once in a while moment happens to be weekly when I am chatting with my closest friend. So, on the third month when his answer was still no, I  simply got pissed. I am usually very understanding , but his response to a simple plea was incomprehensible. I couldn't understand why a simple request of clicking my link would be very difficult to do for someone who spends hours and hours online narrating to me how sad his life is. That day, my 'closest' friend Noy since college was 'removed' as friend from my Facebook account. Of course, I did not tell him that I had intended to add him immediately after the removal.

Afterward, he messaged me on Facebook (since we could no longer chat) and said "Nakaka-depress ito. Sige, babasahin ko na." And true to a true friend's word, he read my blog, and he even commented. Hehe. Three minutes after, Noy is now friends with 'commuter.' Like.

I realized that it was not about him not reading my blog, it was more of the lack of support to a friend. The friend has always been there listening; maybe, this time, you can also do the same.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Katas ng Saudi

When I think of the bills I have to pay or the car I cannot own, I go on thinking like the 10 million Filipinos who have scattered all over the world. I'd like my tiny spot in the world also, working for the money I could never earn in the Philippines. I would come back to the country seeing my many investments and properties that had become the physical reminder of a life lived in hard work. "Katas ng Saudi" or something similar they would say.

But that is just a passing thought. I don't think I'd be hearing people say "Katas ng Saudi" as they notice my imaginary gold chain around my neck since I am not actively pursuing work abroad. To have a job that pays a lot is something I want, though.

For now, I shall admire the good life foreign employment has given the overseas workers. When I ride in a jeepney with an emblazoned "KATAS NG SAUDI,"  I would recognize the efforts of that proud jeepney operator. He must now be finally enjoying retirement life as he let his passenger jeepneys and other business ventures do the money-making for him. I imagine he would do a bit of golf after a quick visit to his store; he would be talking to a travel agent to plan his next foreign trip with his wife and kids, while I would plan the cheapest route to take as I head for a job interview in Taguig Global City.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jeepney ornaments

Women's groups praised the transportation authorities many years ago when the latter implemented 'for women only' coaches in our trains. Before that happened, there were numerous reports of harassment and loss that involved the female passengers. 

I have no objection to this. Who does? A move like that is always laudable; any way to prevent harassment of any form is always good.   Maniacs and sex-crazed addicts abound and they will prey on anyone who could be a willing and an unwilling victim.  It is known that media has helped depict women as sex objects; hence, the women continuously take the consequences of the image portrayed by the tabloids, magazines, movies, and etc.

Apparently, even jeepneys through the sayings serving as decorations would cause any lady to blush in embarrassment. I take consolation in the fact that ladies do not waste their time reading those. I was reading those jeepney ornaments for this blog to find out that there were sayings which I found to be degrading to women. Of the seven, three had references to women.

"Miss nais kitang makilala, ngunit akoy abala sa aking manibela." 
"Basta sexy libre, sa driver lang tumabi."
"Ano man ang ganda mo, driver lang ang katapat mo."

The rest are:

"Ang di magbayad ng kusa, sa karma bayad ka na."
"God bless our trip."
"SAT/SUN & HOLIDAY Student no discount"
"Yan ang tipo kong pasahero, alisto kung magbayad ng husto."

I like that those ornaments add character to the jeep, but ornaments that box a woman in a certain image are unacceptable. They also raised my attention to the existence of jeepney misconduct. The slogans/sayings all point out to the rotten behavior of some passengers. Mag-ingat sa mandurukot. No smoking!

I hope the next time I get to observe jeepneys, I'd read words that respect the passengers and uplift the spirits. Perhaps next time, an "Ingat sa pag-uwi!" or a "Salamat sa pagsakay!" would be the welcoming change I would see. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


On my way to work, I observed the people in the jeep, particulary their hands. There were 16 passengers, eight on both sides, not counting the two in front. I observed that eight hands (including mine) were on the hand rail above, two clutching their phones and one holding a Tagalog romance novel. The last got my attention. I have been told it's bad to read on any moving vehicle, except if you are on an airplane. The lady who continued reading the novel held Martha Cecilia's novel entitled Charles' Angel. How catchy! A closer look at the novel made me see that it was a limited edition and it was new; the pages were crisp.

I advocate any form of reading  (particularly reading my blog), so when I saw the girl, I let her be. As for me, I am John Grisham reader and a Philippine Literature fan! You would see me read F Sionil Jose but never a Tagalog pocketbook, and I don't think I'm picking up one soon, I think. I say 'I think' because things could change. Before, when I was asked if I watched telenovelas on our local channels, I strongly said "No!" Guess who's in front of the TV during weeknights watching Grazilda and Beauty Queen now. I have officially joined countless Filipinos who make their evenings less boring by watching these telenovelas. In so doing, I am adding an information that would now make me more identifiable as "masa" and even "bakya."

How am I with that label? Labels, whatever they may be, are never good. I had my share of namecallings and they never made me or anyone feel good. When I chanced upon a Facebook comment on 'bakyanism' and the commenters' apparent preference for elitism, I couldn't help but frown upon their comments. I do not mind their ideas on the 'bakya' crowd as these are theirs, but for them to feel better than most or superior to others is something objectionable.

I choose not to be labeled by the vehicle I ride, the books I read and the TV shows I watch in the same way Iza Calzado's impoverished character will not mar her into becoming a Beauty Queen! Weeknights at the Kapuso network! hehehe!