from the commuter

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

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Long Wait


I write this post at the airport, waiting for my boarding. I arrived three hours ahead of my estimated time of departure. News reports and the authorities have advised airport passengers  to do so. I am being obedient as I do not want a repeat of a near-missed flight two years before. 

I never liked waiting. Good if I have company, but this particular flight home  has only myself to keep me company.  I have traveled alone previously and the same feelings on waiting are reinforced by this useless airport exercise. I have failed to bring a book with me, but I have my netbook to keep me occupied for the next hour. When the battery drains, I shall think of other amusing things to do. 

In my list of amusing things is to observe people. I am already making some as I write this. For one, there is a mother sleeping opposite me. She’s so big that she’s occupying two seats. Others, who couldn’t find seats, make the stairs and floor their resting place. In front of me, a Chinese guy in black drinks his Cinnabon hot drink which I suspect is coffee. He’s got earphones plugged in. Beside him is a guy playing with his handheld gadget, which looks like an android cellphone. He is nonchalant of the things around him. A Caucasian guy in his thirties walks in, searching for a seat in a sea of waiting passengers. He gives up and leaves with his baggage in tow. 

I wonder how  would other people see me. I guess they’d say, “a chubby guy is surfing the net with his computer.” The chubby part may be correct, but I am not online. There is not a whiff of free wifi anywhere. Hence, a word document is on.

With half a page still blank, I think of what else to write. I tell myself to talk of my future. My future has something to do with the future of this blog. Why? Because my future tells me that my desire for a car and many other things can materialize by next year. The thought excites me --- driving my own car, getting home smelling of car air conditioning and not of sweat and pollution, exploring areas of the city that have not been done so before.  I have my good fortune to thank for.

You see, 2011 has generally been a good year. I started with my new job in the government sector, and I have to say that this job is certainly the best. With this new job, I was able to travel to Puerto Princesa for free; more travels are to be had in the future, for sure. I have lost count as to how many important people I met and shook hands with. An offshoot of my new job is my more stable finances although much has yet to be desired on that department. I have also met an incredible new set of co-workers. Most importantly, I am happy.

To be happier in the 2012, I tell myself to aim high and to excel more. I have made some major plans including fixing my condo unit and acquiring a car. The former is more doable since we are talking of a few thousand pesos for the walls and divisions. The latter, the car, poses to be a challenge since it will require a lot more money. Still,  I looked at flyers and other materials related to purchasing a car. I became optimistic since a Hyundai model can be had for a downpayment of P18,000 and a monthly payment of a little over P10,000 a month! It is possible, assuring myself. 

I did my math after that. Parking space at P4,500 a month, gasoline probably at P4,000 a month, parking tickets and maintenance that go with keeping a car were factored in the computation. Yeah, I could very well afford it; I’d just have to skip breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next five years. 

But I never say die. The 2012 is 12 months long. It may not be next month, but I’ll work hard for it in the third of fourth quarter of the year. I will have made some progress by then I hope. But for now, I shall be commuter, a dreamer.

How about you, what plans do you have?


November 2011: At the pre-departure area of Puerto Princesa Airport
November 2011: While waiting for my ride home at NAIA Terminal 3


December 2011: Gate 116 of NAIA Terminal 3

I guess I have said a lot. This is what waiting does. My netbook has few minutes left in its battery. The PA system has just announced that our flight is delayed. After I save this document file, I shall strike a conversation with the lady beside me whom I hear is a household service worker from the Middle East. She looks forward to going home like the many others waiting for the PA system to announce “Passengers on Cebu Pacific Flight 5J 8** bound for Zamboanga may now start boarding gate ***.”

Happy New Year!
December 2011: Arrival at Zamboanga International Airport. Waiting for my luggage by the single carousel of the airport



(I published this post when I was in Zamboanga already, a day after I had written the post. There was not a free wifi connection at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 where I finished the post. This is also my entry to Gasoline Dude's Blogversary Writing Contest)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas season takes me everywhere. Once in a while, a trip to Quezon City or Makati is a welcoming break from my mostly south destinations. I get to see the Metro Manila lights that never fail to amaze me, the buildings illumined richly, and the festive yet busy people finding their ways to the malls and shopping bazaars. It's Christmas in the Philippines, and I am in the most fortunate place to be in. In a few hours, I shall be going home in Zamboanga. Last year, I wanted to spend Christmas in here in Manila, but my cousin decided to tie the knot in Zamboanga, and I am to host her wedding reception.

Prior to the short Christmas break we were given, I have been very busy, hence, the lack the post. However, I have been taking pictures of the busy Christmas season here in Manila and would like to share them with you. My trusty Nokia phone is slowly giving up on me, but it still manages to take some commuter photos.

Sucat Streets adorned with simple decorations

All roads lead to and from malls. This one is taken near Edsa Ext where the Mall of Asia is.

Scenes like this discourage me from going around town.

Young Christmas Carolers entertain the shoppers at SM Makati. Nothing beats kids singing Christmas songs.

Puto bungbong for sale! A common scene near churches after simbang gabi.

The next posts will be written in Zamboanga.

It is going to be a happy Christmas for me. I hope it is the same for you, too! Felices Pascua y Muy Prospero Ano Nuevo!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Weight post

I was carrying one extra bag to work this morning. My ex-soldier workmate then commented, "Dami mong dala ah."

I had to admit that I was going to the gym later after work.

Further interrogation took place. "Bakit? What made you?" asked another male workmate.

"The mirror. I didn't want what I was seeing," I told them, eliciting a few laughs. I have gained some extra pounds from all the eating and the new job! I have not been doing my laps in the pool as I used to. 

During lunch, another workmate observed that my lunchbox was small. Yeah, it is small, and before its contents were consumed, there was no rice in it. I really am serious about losing weight.

When asked by the same workmate why I was dieting, I said in jest, "My market value is depreciating."One person added, "Yeah, meat market." I laughed with them.

What I am to subject myself into in the next few days will not be a laughing matter. I shall go to the gym often and shed off that unsightly sight that causes some of clothes to retire early. This day, December 6, 2011, I weigh 154 lbs. I intend to lose ten or more in the coming weeks. When I lose all that weight, I will be happier. I need not have to see a Santa Claus in me this Christmas.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

'mama'


I hate it when I am called “mama,”  pronounced with a glottal stop after the second syllable, as  it connotes old age and namelessness. Although it can be translated as mister or man and fits any adult common-looking Pinoy, I don’t wish to be called by it. Other than its connotation, it is the name I use to address jeepney and bus drivers in Manila; I never got to calling them ‘boss,’ the other popular form of address to drivers.  This gets me to ask, how do drivers feel when I call them that? Well, I don’t see their face cringe at the sound of it unlike in my case; I guess it’s ok.

I write because I was recently called ‘mama.’

It was a Friday night. At six, after a long session at work, I took the train from Pasay-Taft MRT to Ortigas to celebrate my former colleague’s birthday. I never liked that Pasay Taft area; it’s very busy at any time of the day, and foot and vehicular traffic is just crazy.  An MRT commuter can’t do much about these, really. So, like the hundreds or the thousands who converged at the station to make use of the affordable mass rail transit on a rush hour weekend, I readied myself for combat. The growing number of people waiting for the next train meant aggression, something I could very well do. As for the imperturbable majority who just wanted to go home, the sight was ordinary. 

Then, the train arrived. Passengers from the north alighted. Protecting my bag, I squeezed myself in with mob. I was a  meter away from the entrance, occupying my less than one-square-foot space. As we stopped at every station, I was pushed farther back. 

It was my time to get off, at Ortigas. I was two meters from the exit. I had to force myself out as the train riders crowded by the doors; I didn't want to be locked in. Then the words came out, “Mama, dahan-dahan naman” - from a protective mother guiding her two kids out of the train. 

I knew she was talking to me although her back was facing me. I could not deny it, as I was directly behind her, pushing her. I kept a few distance from her after getting off the train, but I saw her comforting her pubescent daughter who appeared to be having difficulty breathing. 

It was no longer about being called ‘mama’ that made me uneasy. I let myself lose sight of them. I was guilty of losing acceptable behavior. But I couldn’t think of a more acceptable behavior in circumstances as that, can you?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An airport lesson

While waiting at the (better) Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Terminal 3)
The last plane ride before my Palawan trip was in January 2011 for my Vietnam trip. The Palawan trip was going to be work, but a fun work, it turned out, something that I could do for the rest of my life. But a work that good truly does not exist for someone like me. So, I , together with the rest my batchmates, was nothing but grateful for the experience.

Prior to the trip, we were all excited, thirty- and twenty-year old gals and guys could not hide their excitement. We googled for places of interest (meaning, drinking) and had some difficulty in searching for one. We were probably looking at the wrong website or there could be nothing like that in existence there. But we were not completely frustrated. We cannot complain as everything in the tour was free. We did not even think of the low pressure area looming in the western part of the Philippines.

The day came when we had to leave Luzon. I brought my ever-trusted backpack that could well carry my entire house. I was not to check in my stuff; I was a light traveller, I tell myself, although I had 15 kilos of free baggage space.

Everything was running smoothly as expected except when I was stopped at the entrance to the pre-departure area because an umbrella was seen in the x-ray machine. Oh no, it was MY UMBRELLA!

"Bawal po ang payong," the security officer said.

A frozen face.

I was not going to give up my umbrella. Few weeks ago, I bought it at a price that could pay for four cups of Starbucks coffee. 


"Hindi mo na yan makukuha."

Another frozen face. Then an obedient umbrella-possessing Palawan-bound passenger unwillingly pulled an umbrella out of his bag.



Welcome to Puerto Princesa City!

I proceeded to the boarding area with a quarter of a kilo off my bag which made my trip easier as we experienced Palawan weather which was mostly fine and dry during daytime. There really was no use for an umbrella after all, and I was not really to use it as weapon and kill or injure someone; I really was not.
The plane that brought us safely to Puerto Princesa City

Monday, November 21, 2011

Commuter sets foot in Puerto Princesa City

Barefooted in the city


I was in Puerto Princesa when its Underground River Park inclusion to the New Seven Wonders of Nature list was announced. The entire city celebrated its entry to the famous list. Fireworks illuminated the peaceful Palawan sky at three in the morning, I was told. I was sound asleep in my hotel room, recuperating from the fun-filled week that was, when the entire city reveled in its glory.

That really was a reason for a celebration among the many other reasons why Palawenos should be celebrating all year-round. It's a great place to be in - greens, nature, fresh air, fresh seafood and nice and warm people.

The city proper can be toured in less than half a day. The tricycle ride is cheap; going around was easy.  The local folks are trained to be nice to strangers and tourists.
Puerto Princesa City's not so busy intersection

The garbage truck collecting the trash on the street did not smell like a Manila garbage truck. I told myself and my companions to take a deep breath as we passed by a parked a truck. Nah, it was a suggestion not worth taking.


Tricycle designs differ from city to city. It could fit five grown up men and a lady heading to a club to party.

My idea of progress was a modern urban landscape, and Puerto Princesa does not fit this kind of progress. However, it has progressed greatly in the area of environmental protection, something that the rest of the country and the world have failed miserably. Puerto Princesa sits well in its rightful throne as the princess of the  all things fresh and green, and she deserves a homage.

I left Puerto Princesa with a bagful of memories of its Underground River, Honda Bay, Badjao Restaurant, monkeys, greens and many more greens, crocodile meat, bearcat, food, lots of it and many many more. I can go on forever....

To end this post succinctly, it was fun. It really was.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Long weekend

The mass ended a few minutes earlier than usual. There were not that many people in the church; the choir sang only one song instead of the usual two during the the entire communion. The more fashionable ones who come extra well-dressed for mass were strangely absent. So were the beautiful people. These were my observations during last Sunday's mass.

Yes, they have gone elsewhere, out of town, maybe; long weekends do that. They also create opportunities for domestic or international tourism to flourish. They decongest Manila streets as well. But I remained at home. As much as I would like to have my little rendezvous around the city or elsewhere, I simply chose to confine myself in my abode. Paranaque happens to be the home of Manila Memorial Park and and the small Loyola. Braving the streets during All Saints' Day is not something I would be doing although my feet have been itching for Makati or wherever.

Besides, I have to rest. The past few days have been very busy, thus, the lack of a new post. I spent a week researching for and writing a paper, and another three days providing service as a liaison officer to nine foreign delegates and one local in an international conference at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The liaison work was work, hence, boring, but the hotel experience was great. I have to be honest when I say that it was my first time to sleep in a five-star hotel room, which I shared with seven other men, three who snored. I did not even realize there were some snoring that took place since I slept the earliest. It was a good sleep - airconditioned, soft yet compact pillows and smooth bed.

It was my first and last time to sleep with my male friends. The tiring work during the day made me snore as loud as the others. I volunteered to sleep in the ladies' hotel room, on the extra bed, of course. One less snorer in the male's room was one snorer addition in the girl's suite. Guess who didn't get to sleep well this time? Poor Candy.

And of course, I can only reminisce privately the overflowing food I enjoyed during breakfast and lunch. I shall not write them down since I salivate at the thought of it. Let us just say that my breakfast and lunch experiences made me dream of living in hotel rooms for the rest of my life. But I woke up in my simple and colorless room after the three days. The hard bed, the electric fan and the scattered shelfless books all reminded me to get up and prepare my own breakfast. This I did. It turned out I was cooking for a full day's meals. I had fried chicken for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the life.

Tomorrow will be something else.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Obstacle Course

The school beside my place is on a semestral break. So, for the first time in many months, I see fewer people and no students on the streets every morning. As a result, FX drivers don't get to drop off students by our street, meaning, no ride for waiting passengers! For the limited FX passing our street, my animal instincts are put to use as I fight off other passengers to secure my one square foot of butt space!

Only this time do I engage in a car chase! I, together with many other office people, run towards the empty FX that stops some ten meters from our corner. Every morning for the past few days, I get a twenty-second workout as I rush for that prime spot. A lady in her fifties joins us in that short race. She is not successful all the time, however. It's a funny sight because men and women in their nice office clothes participate in a race; I am not spared. In fact, I relish this morning challenge. I still have my commuter groove on! hehe.

The early morning run is a good way to get my blood pumping, but I would really prefer a different way. My health, I would say, is still in good shape, but I certainly  wouldn't want to be dashing for a ride in my fifties; it's not a good sight. But we do what we must. Work we must, and a whole new obstacle course awaits us until the end of the day.
Random picture. I forgot the story behind this photo. This gave me the creeps when I saw it again.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lessons learned at SM

The crowd by the SM Manila entrance


SM Security is far from relaxed nowadays. It took thirty seconds more than the usual three! The security personnel gained an idea of how a scatter brain of a person I am by inspecting the interior of my bag. He made me open my laptop bag, and he searched the small inside pockets of bag revealing a collection of  unused fast food tissue papers and bus tickets! I can’t blame him really. SM cannot afford another shooting incident. Last month, SM malls had two shooting incidents in separate malls within a period of one week. 

I was sorry to disappoint them that I did not have a gun with me to shoot an invisible lover who had cheated me. I never had a liking for guns, and I don’t have a girlfriend to speak of. I don’t see the need to have those two at this time. Hehe. 

An SM mall on a weekend is a happy place for those who have money to splurge. I, on the other hand, associate SM with responsibilities. I am a frequent user of their Business Center when paying bills. It has become a ritual to directly conduct my regular visit once my ATM card produces those much needed moolah! 

I could have enrolled my monthly obligations with my bank and save myself from going all the way to the mall, but I choose not to. I have always attached the idea of paying bills in person as a mature individual’s doing. I have seen my folks do it, and it seems to be one of the most responsible things an adult person can do; thus, I take the long lines in those payment centers eventhough queuing is something I dislike doing. 

I see my money part from me, and with that parting I understand the nature of money. In the process, I realize that maturity is not all about being a responsible adult, it is also about permanently extricating oneself from a seemingly eternal pitfall one repetitively plunges into.
People waiting the for SM Sucat to open


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Happy World Teacher's Day!

While waiting for a ride this morning
I have to admit that I felt a sudden pinch somewhere when I received a "Happy Teacher's Day" greeting this morning. The many months of training in my new job has temporarily made me forget that months before the classroom was my workplace, but my present co-workers would often refer to me as the 'teacher' in a batch of diverse occupations. I guess I could not shake off that title, and I am not willing to part with it completely even when I am taking on a new career. Once a teacher, always a teacher they say.

I do miss being a teacher. I miss my former co-teachers. I also miss my nice students.

The teachers who have been part of my life - former teachers,  former co-teachers,  and present teachers - deserve all the gratitude they deserve. Much of what I have achieved in my short life is attributed to the teachers who shaped my life. So, I texted all teachers in my phonebook, with a message saying thanks.  I felt better.

If you can read this post, thank a teacher.
Teacher's Day Morning

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I should not have met Pedring!

But I did meet Pedring. Even though when all signs told me that it was not a good idea to go to work, I still braved the morning rain. I was five minutes away from my work when I got a text saying that work had been called off. I still proceeded to the office's gate, verifying the text. The guard offered me his smile , "Sinuspend na ng Malacanang." There, those words and that smile said it all.

I went to Jollibee, seeking some form of consolation. I must have been the only one in our batch to have come to work. They were all visionaries, and I was stubborn! There was nothing else to do but go home. I crossed the street, but my senses told me to stay put. I found myself in 7-11, observing others how they go about Pedring. Few minutes after this picture below was taken, I saw four girls sans umbrellas walking towards the convenient store. They sashayed the streets as if appearing in a soft porn flick. They left the convenience store with just a tiny bag from the store.
7-11, my temporary shelter
In my many years here in our nation's capital, it was only now that I had experienced wind so strong; when Ondoy struck two years ago, I was safe at home, like most of the other typhoons. This time, I got to see the twenty or so shape configurations that my umbrella could do against the angry winds! In the process, I had to retire my expensive two-year old umbrella because there was no way for it to be repaired.  In times like this, I miss being a teacher. At the slightest mention of typhoon signal 2, work is off! Now, it takes a President or someone from Malacanang to do that. I hoped they did the announcement a lot earlier.

Again, I am at McDonald's, making use of  its WiFi. I left the house without electricity; the entire condo complex sits in the dark. I shall buy a nice umbrella after this post.

Stay safe everyone.

Monday, September 19, 2011

If I were an FX driver...

If I were an FX driver...

1. I wouldn't drive something with a hatch back. It is inconvenient.
2. I would say thank you to anyone handing his/her fare.
3. I would play good music.
4. I would bring my passengers safely to their destination.
5. I wouldn't cuss!
6. I would load and unload passengers in designated areas to avoid being ticketed.
7. I would charge my passengers correctly.

Well, the sentences  show the use of conditionals: there is no real possibility that the condition will happen. I say this because, to start, I don't know how to drive! This inability is not yet considered as pathetic, but sometimes it can be. I sometimes hitch a ride with a female workmate to Alabang. hehe. And as one co-worker has said, she drives like an Arab. I don't know what it exactly means, but she certainly knows driving. All I can do is stay glued to my seat and say a small prayer of safety. Sometimes, it's trust. I have learned to trust my workmates. I am now more relaxed than before.

One Friday night, we went out to grab a few drinks. I had two bottles of beer! I left the place with a headache. I couldn't say for sure if I was tipsy or drunk. I only had two bottles for crying out loud! I got into her car and just wanted sleep. I am not supposed to sleep; it's absolutely wrong to have a girl drive me while I go sleep. I tried to keep awake but closed my eyes sometimes. Some minutes later I was back to my old self. I have not been getting lots of alcohol in my system lately; this is the only reason I could attribute to that pathetic episode.

To end this post, "Don't drink and drive! Hitch!"

Views from FX

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mentor

After a not so warm reception by our lecturer for our lack of participation and intelligence, the sight of my former professor on the same bus to Las Pinas was refreshing. I would not have noticed her had it not been for a girl who got off leaving a vacant seat for me to sit on. My professor must have been tired after a long day at the university; she looked as if she had a shuteye on the bus. I greeted her as soon as I took my seat. She wiped her eyes responding to my greeting.

"How are you?" She was motherly as always.

I dominated the whole conversation during the one-hour commute. I couldn't stop from blabbering; she was very encouraging and she appeared as if she was really listening.

I talked about my new work where she replied with sincerity, "How great! I am happy for you!"

I still consider myself a teacher, and hearing that from a fellow teacher, especially from someone whom I respect and admire, I was in heaven. I think she was actually proud of me. My former insecure self always wanted an affirmation of sorts from my former teachers. I guess, this time, I got it. It feels great to see my teacher take joy in my small achievement. Her smile said it all.You see this teacher of mine is considered a pillar in our department. Mrs Mendiola she is called. She is brilliant and well-liked. A PhD holder in Linguistics, US-trained and an achiever in her own right, she was looked up to by many. She is my mentor although she doesn't know it yet. She will always have my highest admiration.

I will probably not take teaching as a career right now, but if I decide to do so, I will be like her. She once wrote in her profile that she will only stop teaching if her students don't want her to. I guess she will have more years teaching because there will always be a demand for her. But I would also understand if she decides to retire. She leaves daily for work at 4:30 am she says. She even told me that she injured herself after tripping on a road construction; there was no light nor warning device that early that day, yet she went to work. She goes home taking the public bus by herself, and she's not getting any younger.

Bus terminal in Las Pinas
I got off feeling proud, but it was her "Ingat ka, iho!" that made me forget of all the bad teachers I had had.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Passenger Series 5: Blogger

I want to write in Filipino for this entry, but the words don't come out as fast as when I write in English. I do not want to take my time writing, for I am in McDonald's using its free WiFi connection. It's almost dinner time, and other customers will want to use some tables. I am down to my last few bites of my burger as I write this.

I needed some time off from all the cerebral activities we do at work.  I wanted to be around strangers and drown in their unfamiliar noise while I think of mundane and worthless things I wanted to do. In simple terms, I needed a break.

Fortunately, break for me is spilling out my thoughts onto this screen, with the hope of readership from a stranger or strangers. I honestly do not want to know who is reading this. My reader statistics, although low, are good enough reminder that someone bothers to click on this page.

Commuter wishes to talk to you.

Dear Reader, I seldom get to think about life now, which saddens me. I was full of reflections and dreams. I don't romance my idealism anymore as I used to. I would have wanted to waste precious time recalling my beautiful past and dreaming of my uncertain yet exciting future. It's through these that I feel alive. Now, I have become more engrossed in the pressures I have imposed on myself. I get by, still, but I am not liking that I am becoming too hard on me. Poor commuter is stressing himself out. 

Forgive me, dear reader, for boring you out some more. I guess this is just one of those moments that needed some venting out. I hope this, too, shall pass like all the other 'moments' I have experienced. I have strong faith, this I already know.

Thank you. I feel slightly better.

I have work the next day, Saturday. Boo! Have a good weekend!

Not me! A sleeping passenger
Commuter

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Waiting

Fun Walk at MOA
Early Sunday morning


Waking after barely three hours of sleep from a night out (in Eastwood), I hurriedly took a bath to make it to the Mall of Asia (MOA) at six in the morning to meet up with some groupmates for a project.

I got off in Baclaran in front of a gay bar, which, some few hours ago, was the venue of naked men gyrating to Careless Whisper and whatnot. This was where I was to take my jeepney ride to MOA. The jeep was half-filled. Middle-aged women all wearing red were already there. I assumed they had been there for a few minutes. They were to take part in free aerobics session in the mall grounds. It was six in the morning and there weren't many people around.

"Ma," addressing to the driver, "pag-Lunes na at hindi pa gagalaw mauuna na kami, ha?" said the most boisterous of the group. The rest laughed.

Maybe out of impatience as it was past six already, the same woman blurted at the top of her voice, "MOA, MOA, MOA, MOA!" eliciting further laughter from the passengers.

There was an organized fun walk at the MOA grounds. "May libreng tubig d'yan. Save na tayo sa tubig," one of them said.

========================================================

Monday morning


I was running late. The FX that passed were all full. I shall take the jeep, I told myself. I did, thinking it was an experiment. However, I reminded myself that experimenting on a different route was not a very wise idea to do on a busy work week, a Monday to be exact. I did not heed my own reminder because I wanted to be stubborn.

I got off in Baclaran. I waited for anything to pass along Roxas Boulevard. There was none. I didn't take a cab for I could not. I hailed a MRT/LRT Pasay-bound jeep. I witnessed an overwhelming foot traffic everywhere. I never thought that the foot bridges could hold so many people. There were as many people down as there were up. I must find my way soon. I had an hour to go before I'd be marked late.

A jeepney marked "DFA" came to view. I am saved. I took it and kept an eye for an 80's structure lording over Pasay-Libertad area. It came to sight as the driver said "DFA." He must have noticed my gawking look as he drove.

I walked thirty meters more than I would on my normal route. I arrived in the office twenty minutes before the time. I immediately hogged the air coming from electric fan as I was drenched in perspiration and exposed to Pasay-Paranaque pollution. It was an interesting lesson on a Monday morning.


I told myself to stick to my regular route from that moment on.


C5 Extension Paranaque: Sunday Morning. Cars emptied for Brother Mike Velarde's Sunday Service

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Passenger Series 4: Solicitor

The teacher in me would have wanted to put my red pen out and put it to good use, but I did not. The guy who gave this to me while inside the bus needed my support and not my lecture. I did not give him anything; I never agree to solicitations done inside moving conveyances. He got off taking with him this piece of paper and his merchandise.

This is not new to me anymore. I have received similar messages and envelopes with matching performances while I am on transit. I do not judge them. People do what they have to do. I would only react negatively if some form of coercion is done; almost all the time, I ignore. I don't feel bad about how I usually react towards this because, I think, genuine show of charity should not be solicited.

Taft Ave corner Kalaw. Formerly Masagana Mall in my college days.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Working Series 2: Metered

(This must be along Taft Avenue...not sure where exactly though)
That roads lengthen at night is a known fact to Zamboanguenos whose popular mode of transportation is the meterless tricycle. It is the tricycle that serves as the 'taxi' as there are only two or three cabs servicing the entire city. Those who want to go home safely and be brought to their house directly could not complain if they are charged more. I wonder, though, how these drivers determine the rate.

With my new work in the nation's capital, however, the FX is my preferred mode of transport. It has been a habit of mine to prepare the exact fare of P25 every morning. On days that I don't have the exact fare, say fifty, I get P25 or 20 as change. The shy person that I am do not care to ask what the actual fare really is. Actually, other than being shy, it is more of the fear to find out what I must actually pay. The thing is I am getting very comfortable paying P25! It looks like it's just worth P25 really; I get to work in less than 40 minutes on a busy Manila morning. I strongly feel it's just a P25-peso ride. But drivers may have a different 'feeling.' This leads me to ask, why are there two different fare rates?

When they charge me thirty, I usually keep quiet. When I hand a P25 and announce my destination, I am sometimes asked to add five and I follow. When I get the 'right' change, I am happy. Five pesos is a big savings; multiply it by two, you get ten pesos!

I do not mind paying the right or higher fare only if everything in the FX transport service is regulated. I have yet to see a printed out fare matrix that is observed everywhere and conspicuously displayed. There are shuttle services that charge exorbitantly, I think. But despite my silent complaints, I continue taking the FX. It's still the choice of many  salaried barong-wearing office workers unless they want to be smelling of Manila air every morning.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Working Series 1: Paid!

My financial (re)dependence on my mother ended when my ATM card yielded those precious pesos. A smile proudly displayed on my face as I held my hard-earned money. I quickly told my mother and close friends of my new-found fortune."You're the property of the people now" was what they said. I understood what that meant. It scares me, I have to honest. Others said, "Palibre!" I smiled. Much as I would want to share the first fruit of labor, I simply couldn't because I had bills to pay. Close to four months of unemployment left me poor and with delayed payments! I had monthly responsibilities to my housing loan and the credit card companies. Only when I have fulfilled those responsibilities would I be able to truly flash my close-up smile again. But I am smiling nonetheless.

The thought of regular income gives me the kind of security that I have been deprived of for many weeks. I have been assessing my spending habits. I must save! A new workmate of mine, an intelligent fellow, presented me with an equation on savings. He illustrated that most Filipinos' idea of saving, and I adhere to this, is

                               SAVINGS = INCOME - EXPENSES

when it should be this:

                               EXPENSES = INCOME - SAVINGS

 Smart fella, huh? or Bobo lang ako?


The fact that it lingered on me meant it had a purpose. I just had to act on it. I thought that my scrimping on things would do it, but, definitely, it's more than that.

View from the overpass in Roxas Blvd
Roxas Blvd

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Working

The title, "Working," is supposed to mean "Busy," thus, this post, that is many days late. 

It has been a month since I officially entered the service. So far, we have been making our trips to places that are supposed to be relevant in our training. We visited the Museum, the Airport, and a movie house even! Needless to say that our cadetship, as what they call it, has been full, but this does not mean I have not been doing my observations.

A lot has happened.

(to be continued)

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Be...Cuss"

I was trying to list things that I look for in a friend. Careful scrutiny of my list shows that I look for someone like me or someone who shares the same values as I do. It goes without saying that anyone who may not be like me in many ways is an ‘x’ in my list. This got me thinking as to whom I don’t want to befriend. The first person to come into my mind was a former co-teacher. What didn’t I like about her?

  Insincere
  Gossip monger
  Social climber
  Insensitive
  Foul-mouthed
  Ill-mannered
  Domineering

It’s a relief that I don’t get to see her anymore, but I am bound to meet people who may be like her.

It has been two weeks since I started government work. I have met my new workmates. They are slowly revealing themselves to me. Likewise, I get to reveal something about myself to them also. Let’s just say I am not keen about being a popular member of the group. Let’s leave it at that.

In a teambuilding activity we had, I blurted out ‘sh_t’, an expression, which, sad to say, is the most readily available cuss word in my profanity vocabulary. I don’t claim to be the most upright of all beings, but I do detest hearing the words ‘P---- Ina’ and other Tagalog cuss words. For me, Tagalog cuss words are the vilest morphemes ever expressed by any mouthed Filipino.


An evaluation of the teambuilding activity later on revealed that "someone had said ‘sh_t’ in the activity." Guess who that was. I take full responsibility for that although a close friend would say it is not so big a deal. Apparently, in my line of work, the acceptable expressions are only those that promote harmony and world peace! In that case, sh_t will not be helpful.

Roxas Blvd near DFA
I really must watch out the words that come out of my mouth. I’m in the best position to say that language matters. I should not forget that I should be an exemplar of good manners and right conduct! Hehe!

I have always avoided foul-mouthed people. One major reason why I wanted to severe my ties with that former female co-teacher was the presence of P.I. after every ten words in her speech. I was successful at ‘unfriending’ her, but  curses did not leave me.

My everyday interactions with public transport service providers expose me to language not fit for general audience. I remember sitting in front of the jeep to have a front row experience of the language at its worst. I pitied the kid beside me.

“Gago, garapal talaga ‘to, ”  said the driver of another driver.  “Kanina pa yan. Puno na nga. Swapang talaga.”

“Bayad ‘ho. Baclaran lang ‘ho,” said a passenger to the same driver.

“Kabihasnan lang po.”

“Sorry po.”

When the confused passenger got out, the driver said, “Hindi nagbabasa. Kabihasnan nga lang. Magbasa-basa sa susunod ha.”

Heavy traffic came. “ ’Tang ina.”

Monday, July 18, 2011

Life/Death in Paranaque



The death of a relative of a former workmate made me realize that residing in Paranaque was a good decision. 

Early Sunday morning, I received the news that the mother of my favorite co-teacher in my former workplace had passed away. My former co-teachers were to hear mass at Funeraria Paz in Manila Memorial Park at around lunch time. It would have been a good opportunity to see them again although I realized that it would be in a rather sombre place. Anyway, I couldn’t make it at that time. I would go in the evening, I told myself.

Night came, a quiet Sunday  evening, and I went alone. The ride was a breeze, the weather acceptable. I paid my respects; I didn’t stay long. On my way home and thinking like a pragmatist, I was telling myself that I would not have gone if it was far. I would have to thank my proximity to the memorial chapel. Then, I went on mentally listing why Paranaque is a good place to live in.

1.     1. Proximity to  the airport and cemeteries
2.        2. Accessibility to various types of transportations
3.        3. Less flooding, at least in my part of the town
4.        4.  Density

These are my reasons, but other residents would probably supplement my reasons:
5.     
6.       5. Popular night spots (Air Force One, etc)
7.       6. Near Casinos
       7. Baclaran!
8.       8. El Shaddai

And the list goes on….

However, there are as many reasons why it might not be in someone else’s list.

We make do of what we have, really.

But my realizations that night did not end with my appreciation for my adoptive city. When I shook the hand of my co-teacher after expressing my condolences, she smiled and said, “I really appreciate your coming.” One simple gesture, one that did not require ten minutes probably gave a grieving individual some comfort. I can’t recall when the last time I made someone feel like that. But I tell myself this now: I will not wait for someone to die for that to happen again.
Alabang-Zapote Rd., Las Pinas City

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Respect


In my first week of work, the guards by our gate were greeting me good morning. I guess that is what formal office wear does to a person. Have I gained their respect to merit me a greeting every morning?

Back when I was a teacher, the greetings came naturally as this was how students should be, but that did not necessarily mean that they respected me. I would like to think that they did, but I would also understand if they did not. I have long learned that respect is gained, not given.

Now that I am in a new organization, I'm surrounded by many people who all possess one quality I highly admire. They are all brilliant individuals. Their powers seem to emanate from the breadth of their intelligence. Being surrounded by them makes me feel insignificant, but it is this inadequacy that makes me put on that nice shirt every day and take that FX to work,  so I could learn more and do more.

===================================================================

Yes, I have started with my new work. I praise the Lord! The week has gone by so quickly, but the speed draws me closer to more things that I am to explore. During the first three nights, I slept very late because I was kept awake by the mixed feelings I was experiencing --- anxiety, excitement, nervousness, confusion, etc.

The nights after that were better. The upcoming days seem to look the same.

This work seems to be very different from what I had in my previous work. Although all we do is listen to speakers and lecturers the whole day, I seem to feel drained when I get home. Hence, I just want to sleep. Hence, I would not be able to write as often as I want to.

But I must keep myself sane. Thus, this incoherent post. Thus, this comforting thought that I am still able to write.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Busy unemployment



I did not watch TV the entire time during my three-month unpaid vacation, although time spent on TV was more than usual, I have to admit. I did a few other things as well. I attempted to finish a short story,  and this I was able to do. I take pride in being able to do this. For as long as I could remember, I have not completed a story. I was ambitious with this creation of mine; I couldn’t contain my excitement and felt I penned a masterpiece. I thought that I could get this published. Without anyone editing my work, I clicked ‘send’ to a magazine and prayed for the best. I viewed the  magazine’s previously published stories after that; the more I read the stories, I more stupid I felt. I told myself, “What made me think that I’d make it on print?” My work was undoubtedly amateurish and lacked in substance.  I am not being hard on myself --- I am being truthful. Seven years I taught literature, discussing the world’s finest literary works, and I should know what literary is or is not. 

Sometimes I don’t know what I’m getting myself into; sometimes I become too passionate about something, but most of the time, I am optimistic about everything.

On Monday, July 11, I am starting my day one with the Department of Foreign Affairs! I am to be an Officer. During my oath-taking days ago, I was called ‘sir’ by some of the personnel of the department. I don’t think I’ve earned that yet. All I did was pass a test.  Up to this day, I do not know what else I am to expect; I ask myself, “What am I going to do here?!” I have been dreaming of this job for years that I wouldn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize my chances in serving the department.  Other than TV watching and short story writing, I was also reading books. With whatever little extra money I had, I bought useful books at Booksale. Again, the more I read, the more I realized I had a lot to learn. My training has been on language teaching and not on diplomacy. I panicked a bit, but this worry was quickly erased by optimism. It is what kept me going on despite the diminishing resources, the difficulties and other challenges. Now, do I let a bit of insecurity triumph over my future? 

I wouldn’t worry over my rejected story; instead, I shall write some more until I have proven myself that a competent foreign service officer can write too.  ( I need this pat. Hehe)
"Coastal" commuters

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Unemployment and Soap Operas


Showbiz seems to be giving promises of wealth, fame and adulation that can entice any dreamer to pursue his or her place in lala land. No wonder why TV contests and auditions are trooped by the thousands. I have long resigned to the idea that I will never make it as an artista in this country. I laud those who are determined, though,  because they still have it in them. I have come to face some realities in life that tell me that any pursuit of fame through showbiz is simply going to be an effort in futility.

In my many years as a spectator in the Philippine show business, I have come to draw some painful facts why you’ll never see me on Party Pilipinas or ASAP. Those who still think that they can make it may try answering these questions.

1)      1) Are you mestizo or mestiza?
      If your answer is no, it cuts your chances by 50%. Marian Rivera, Jake Cuenca, Piolo Pascual, Sam (Milby and Pinto), Jillian Ward, and the list goes on….Don’t fret, there are still ways.
2)      2) Related to 1 is this question: Where you born or raised abroad? Not knowing how to speak Filipino is not necessarily a qualification.  
3)      3) If you don’t have foreign blood in you, do you have someone famous as your parent?
4     4)  Do you have something big that you’re willing to show off? By big I mean, big voice, big boobs, big dick.
5)      5) Are you drop dead gorgeous?
6)      6) Are you willing to share a bed with a movie producer or executive?
7)      7) Do you have videos uploaded on YouTube?
8)      8) Have you gone to every audition there is?
9)      9) Are you really talented?
10   10) Are you rich enough to buy yourself text votes in reality TV shows?

If you answer a yes to at least one of the questions, you probably stand a chance. I couldn’t say yes to any. Hence, I am a proud member of the audience.  


In this time when I patiently await for my job in the government, I have made the television my companion. My cable-less TV offers the best local soap operas and game shows.  I sometimes take pity on myself for being content on watching the shows although I am not surprised that I start to become an avid viewer.  TV show producers and writers have perfected luring jobless people like me into making fans out of us. Then again,  I take relief in the fact that I am starting my new work in few days’ time.  When that happens, I’ll just ask my likewise jobless brother to tell me if Amaya has finally killed Datu Mangubat. 
Air-conditioned jeepney. Sucat-Lawton Route