from the commuter

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Commuter is in Zamboanga

Commuter is spending his holidays in Zamboanga, and he is spending it in their lovely home without Internet connection. As he writes this, he is in a computer shop some kilometers from his house. Despite that, he is very glad to be spending Christmas at home.

Until he gets to work, he wouldn't be able to check his account regularly. So here, to his two readers, he wishes them  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

He sends you a glimpse of Zamboanga.

Zamboanga and Manila streets are very different. You would see that  motorcycles are king. They outnumber the jeeps. He thinks it's a reflection of the economy and infrastructure in the city. Nevertheless, home is still home.

Again, Merry Christmas to one and all!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trip to Divisoria

A Divisoria street
One December weekend, the ride I took with my sister to Divisoria ended right in front of the Binondo Church. It was my first in many years. Divisoria is not exactly the place I would frequent even though goods are dirt cheap. My memory of my last visit was almost the same as the one I had this weekend, except that this one was more eye-opening.

Binondo is always a sight to behold. It's not exactly the same as other Chinatowns in other Asian countries, but its Chinese identity, if I may use tautology, is definitely all over the place! Few more meters and I'd be stepping closer to Divisoria. I don't know exactly where Binondo ends and where Divisoria starts. One indicator I could think of is the presence of sidewalk vendors; where they thrive is probably Divisoria territory already. I was getting near; it was just an intersection away from where I was to go. And yes, where there are many people, it's as good as a street sign saying "Divisoria." I just had to cross a street to get where I was supposed to go. Crossing streets had never been a problem, you know, but I was in a rather difficult situation that Saturday morning in Divisoria. Just to cross one took me five minutes; it was worse than EDSA traffic on Christmas season rush hour! Foot traffic was unbelievable. It looked as if half of Metro Manila was in Divisoria! There was simply no time for complaints and turning back. A poor customer like me can't be too choosy.

But that is what Divisoria is, and it's her low-priced nature that makes people want to have a piece of her  despite her seemingly impassable streets and sidewalks. For someone who wants cheap stuff, this place is heaven. That's why no matter how inconvenient that place is, the good buys one gets would simply compensate for any difficulty. The only thing   I somehow regretted was not bringing more cash. On the other hand, it was good that I didn't bring extra money. Those trinkets and clothes  I had fancied would probably bore a bottomless hole on my pocket!

I stuck to my plan which was only to order personalized cups for the high school reunion I was organizing. This meant I had to come back the next day, Sunday, to claim my order.

Sunday afternoon came, and I saw myself among the throng of eager shoppers of Divisoria again. There were slightly fewer people this time. I gathered that most people would come in the morning. I would have no idea of the crowd in the evening, but I heard stalls were open even at night.

I finally got my cups, all fifty of them. Now, how do I get a  five-kilo box full of ceramic cups out of this shopping madness and into the free flowing streets where jeepneys abound? It was a long walk yet an interesting view of Divisoria market life. Other than the cheap products, I have yet to discover Divisoria's other charms that continuously draw people back to her.

I might just plan my next visit soon to discover it for myself, and planning includes bringing lots of cash and wearing more comfy clothes!

Have a happy Christmas shopping to you and me! Merry Christmas!

Divisoria image

The crowd thickens at Divisoria

Friday, December 10, 2010


I have an issue with street children. If I can avoid them, I will. I see in them the sad future of this country : dirty, sick, drugged, disgusting and aimless. I hold the sight of them in contempt, especially when they are in a church. Inside the church last Sunday, upon seeing two boys in soiled clothes, my thoughts were "someone was going to be robbed of his or her wallet," and " why were they here."

I cannot blame myself for those thoughts. I have had experiences with street children, and they are not exactly nice ones. Solvent-sniffers, pickpockets, mendicants are the words I associate with them. I personally find it ironic to be thinking this way since I devote one weeknight every week as a volunteer in a street children center in Alabang. I teach them to read, help them with other academic homework and devote time in their activities. I do this with passion; my co-volunteers' fervor must have rubbed off on me big time. I am enjoying my selfless time with them. This has been a great opportunity to do something good, a far cry from the self-centered life I have been living. To begin with, the kids in the center are different from the ones in the streets. At the center, they take a bath daily, go to school, learn about God and show politeness and industry. They were once street and abandoned children who had been living a life of hope.

Other than being a selfless act for me, why do I do this? I believe in the mission of the center. It aims to transform the lives of these former street children. When I look at the older residents of the center, I find it hard to see a single trace of their former lives. They have transformed into caring and responsible individuals.

But that very image of transformation made me reflect on my prejudices against the street children. If those center kids were able to change, why can't the ones in streets? Further thinking  has made me realize that it is not completely the kids' own doing. Their parents, families and even the government should be blamed, too. The only fault I saw in the kids is that they did not choose to be helped.

I was sinning inside the church that Sunday. It was un-christian and wrong. I was quick to ask forgiveness from the Lord, and towards the end of the mass, I must have said "Forgive me, Lord" countless times, and  noticed that those two impoverished-looking boys went to the priest to kiss his hand.

It was a wrong judgment when I should'nt be passing one.

Badjao kids sing and dance for money in Zamboanga

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Every jeepney or bus ride I take is supposed to give me inspiration as to what to write next. The ride is always a rich source of observations and stories. However, I have not been seeing those lately. I had been preoccupied with so much thought.

Sometimes it is with the hailing of a jeep that a story develops, or sometimes, it is in the destination. These stories and observations are made clear because I relish every ride I take. My eyes would wander at every passenger inside and on the moving picture outside.  Now, it is just a blank stare. My worries about my high school reunion, which I am planning,  have taken much of my mind. Homecomings are supposed to be anticipated. My remaining optimism is what seems to be keeping me look forward to it.

As I was doing a mental accounting of the expenses and the attendance of the reunion, the jeep was brought to a stop. I was suddenly Commuter again. A passenger was shouting at a lady who just got off. Since I was seated at the farthest end of the jeep, by the entrance, I saw the woman they were calling and she was some ten meters away. "Ale, (Lady) " a male passenger called. Everyone else looked at the woman heading back to the jeep's direction. I was still oblivious about the minor commotion.

"Nakalimutan n'yo sukli n'yo," the man whose clenched hand bearing her change said.

"Ay, 50 nga pala pera ko," the woman speaking by the entrance. "Thank you," said the woman, and the jeep sped off.


Thursday, December 2, 2010


It's definitely not illiteracy; we have one of the highest literacy rates in Asia. Then, how come many couldn't comprehend a "NO LOADING" sign? I sigh at the sight of them, the signs and the people; the proliferation of these signages all over the metro must have cost the government tons of money. The country's reading teachers and experts might have failed big time due to the increase of  street sign illiterates  who could not understand what those simple words and illustrations mean.

Disregard for signs and laws in general seems to be a reality in Philippine streets. I hope I am wrong.

I was dead tired from work one evening, and I just wanted to go straight home. This was what I did. I went to the transport terminal where, I knew, I would be assured of a seat. It was past nine already, and I decided on taking the bus since it's faster compared to a jeep, and I comfortably took my place by the window. At the Star Mall Alabang Terminal, I patiently waited for other passengers to get in for I know all buses were given a definite time to gather passengers; buses going beyond their alloted loading time literally take a beating from the terminal personnel who strike their sticks onto the buses' body to warn them of their 'overstaying.' So, just after a few minutes, the engine roared.

Just five meters away from the terminal, I saw more people on the street awaiting jeeps and buses. Jeepneys and buses took this chance to get more passengers along a street known to have a "CLOSE DOOR POLICY."

What's wrong here?

The bus terminal was a stone's throw away. Most, if not all, of the people waiting on the road were able-bodied and schooled citizens, yet they appeared to have no notion of a transport terminal. Public utility vehicles , on the other hand, risked the possiblitity of being issued a ticket for a common and known violation. As with the case of the bus I was on, the good traffic officer halted the bus so an exchange of tickets and IDs was to take place. This, among others, delayed my trip home for a few precious minutes.

You and I perfectly know that this is not an isolated situation. For as long as I could remember, people have not been responding very well to the words 'terminal' 'loading' and 'laws.' I wonder what will make them.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Street memories

Do I stick to calling "BF Mcdo" the area pertaining to the corner of (BF) President's Avenue and Sucat Road when Mcdonald's has been demolished to give in to a new establishment?

Since I claim Paranaque to be my adoptive city, I know that place as BF Mcdo - a place for meetings, meet ups, tricycle terminals and bathroom breaks. Commuting BF Paranaque residents call it so, too. I wonder what it's going to be called now. According to some information, an SM-owned establishment is going to take the place of ol' McDonald's. Will it be BF SM or BF Savemore or Savemore? We shall soon find out.

Similarly, if you are to enter BF from Alabang Zapote Road, you would have to inform the driver you're getting off at 'Toyota.' However, people did not refer to it as Toyota then. It was 'Standard' from 'America Standard', the toilet seat company once operating in the area. Although the company has ceased to exist, a few still refer to it as Standard but for many, it's Toyota or Concha Cruz, its actual street name.

In Manila, people still identify the street near the La Salle area as 'Vito Cruz' although its present name enacted by law is 'Pablo Roman.' The LRT station is still named Vito Cruz, though. Back in Mindanao, I have heard of Mantrade, the car store, but announcing my destination 'Mantrade' in a bus in Makati takes me to Magallanes MRT Station; no sight of Mantrade Cars nearby. It doesn't matter really as long as I get to my destination.

Changes in street names brought by legal means do not interest me. I have long accepted that things do change, including places and names. But when a landmark of historical significance or of purely sentimental value ends its place in the world, I start lamenting on the possible loss of memories I have of that place, but I also begin to make new ones with whatever new thing comes.