from the commuter

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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Buy condoms in Las Pinas

A young family

Since I work around the  Barangay Ayala-Alabang area, I can't help but be concerned with the barangay ordinances they come up with. The barangay council of south Manila's most affluent village address recently issued an order seeking to penalize anyone selling and buying contraceptives without a doctor's prescription. This ordinance made some noise the past week, mostly objections, citing that it conflicts with other laws and presents itself to privacy issues. As for the part of the barangay, they were firm in their ordinance. However, the city of Muntinlupa has recently disapproved the ordinance at the height of the issue. This now means that anyone in Barangay Ayala-Alabang can freely buy condoms regardless of reason. Getting a prescription costs at least P250, whereas a three-piece condom pack is just P10. If this ordinance got in the way, I think I would suggest to a possible condom consumer to shell out eight pesos for fare to Las Pinas or Alabang instead of seeking a prescription worth P250. It is good that it didn't. I have to laud the barangay, though; it did show some balls in there by coming up with that barangay resolution. But, apparently, there were more with bigger balls, who went against the influential barangay council.

The barangay condom issue came at a time when the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill is making its rounds at Congress. At mass this Sunday, there was a prayer dedicated to counter the RH Bill. The sight of the people kneeling and saying the prayer sends a strong message, I have to admit. I did kneel with the rest, but I prayed more for my future wife and mothers who would make decisions in their lives later on. I hope they make good ones as the one I am making in support of the RH Bill.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Passenger Series 2: The postman

I have seen him a couple of times before. He takes the jeep to Ayala-Alabang Village, usually around noon time when the sun is at its peak. Sometimes, he travels with a partner; that day when I took his picture, he was alone. The posh Ayala-Alabang Village is his turf. I just don't know if he covers the entire 700 hectares of the village by foot. Unlike the many postal employees I see, he doesn't have a bicycle with him. He wears a long-sleeve shirt with PHILPOST on it and a fisherman's cap. That is his work uniform. It's good to see that there is still work for the likes of him although I doubt if he still gets to deliver social letters. I surmise all he has in his messenger bag are bills and more bills.

I don't think I'll be getting anything from him,  for, one, I don't live in the village and, two, I get all my mail in my house in Paranaque and not in my workplace. The only time we will ever cross path will be when I take the jeep with him again. But if ever he has something for me, I pray he brings with him some good news. I would really like to have some.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Passenger Series 1: Ang Madre

The nun's dress has always been a source of interest to me. I don't personally know of any nun to ask questions about their get-up which they wear every day of their religious life. Although I hear their number is dwindling, they are still pretty much around. Based on some observations and stories about nuns, I have learned that there is little hair that their  headgear covers. They cut their hair really short, I hear. I inquired about their vow of poverty, too (which is something I don't want to have but is imposed on me). Would they use deodorant and shampoo? "Yes, we do, " a sister in a streetchildren center answered. Later on I gathered that they would be  given rations; a shampoo sachet or a laundry bar soap should last them a week or so. To add to whatever knowledge I have of nuns and their attire, this particular picture  above taken in one of my recent commutes just gave me a glimpse of the nuns' way of shielding themselves from pollution. I would have never thought that their veil can be used like that. Upon seeing this picture, a friend mentioned that using the veil in that manner may be deemed inappropriate to some congregations. Again, I would not know about that. I know, though, that seeing the nun riding with me in that jeep was a reassurance of a safe trip. 

Monday, February 21, 2011


Muntinlupa City has this "Bring Your Own Bayong/Bag" (BYOB) policy where the local government encourages people to bring their own shopping bags. No establishment is to issue plastic bags or styrofoam packaging to its customers. In lieu of the plastic bags, paper bags are given. So, Muntinlupa citizens carry with them paper bags. They remind me of American grocers minus the french bread protruding. It has been going on for two months now.

On my way to school, a man's paper bag tore, revealing the fruits he had bought. All fruits found their way to the jeepney's floor.

" 'Yan ang mahirap sa papel," the lady passenger beside the guy said.

The lady passenger then scavenged her bag for any plastic bag while the man picked the fruits from the floor. "Ay, wala pala akong plastic," the lady exclaimed.

As if it was the most natural thing, another lady seated near the guy offered her plastic bag.

The man was hesitant to accept although he was touched by the kind gesture of the woman.

"Sige na. Gamitin mo na, " kind woman said. 

This time, the man  graciously obliged.

Read related post here.
"May nag-text!"
Driving without a helmet.Tsk tsk tsk.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Jeepney passengers

It's the most embarrassing, and, at the same time, the most heartwarming experience to be spoken of in a very high esteem, especially when it is done in a room full of total strangers, by someone whose opinion you value. I experienced this when I recently gave a talk to a group of college students in Manila. My friend had to introduce me as the speaker; she projected me as someone who deserved a star named after him. hehe. I am  maybe exaggerating a bit, but that was the effect on me. I never thought that a single-page letter-sized resume spanning seven years of work history could present me as such. My resume is not much, I tell you. If it was something, it would have scored me some college jobs, or at least job interviews when I was applying  for them last year. However, the small details that were not part of my resume were the ones that I was particularly happy about because the information she added was based on her personal knowledge and perception of me. Here is one reference to this blog:
 “…he maintains a blog in which he makes a seemingly mundane activity a source of insight, inspiration, and intellectual realizations. His writings reveal a patriotic Filipino citizen behind the mestizo appearance.”
Well, she said it not I, and I am not going to affirm what she says about this blog although I would like to believe that they are true, but my statistics indicate that I have not been able to sustain readership.  That will not stop me from writing, however.
Going back, of the other things she said about me, I was quite surprised with the ‘mestizo’ label. I don’t think you’ll ever spot me in a jeep as my looks cannot demand any attention. Years ago, I might have had that light complexion, but the same cannot be said now.  Years of exposure to the environment, neglect and aging, perhaps, have all contributed to the state of my skin. When I take my shirt off, I see the outline of a white shirt on my body. My face and neck and my arms have shade different from the body.
Having lived in a coastal city in my growing up years, I was making the beach my weekend destination. I did not care much about my complexion. I had many classmates who were light-skinned, and they did not pay much attention to it. Only when I got here in Manila did I realize that having a light complexion was a prized attribute. 
Since I share the many Filipinos’ mentality that white is beautiful, I try to reverse the changes. I did buy those sunscreen and whitening lotion to even out my arms and face. Nothing has worked as I seem to jell well with most Pinoys as the months pass.
I am not embarrassed revealing this; jeepney and tryke drivers seem to be as concerned with their skin as I am. I see them put ‘sleeves’ on them. If not scrutinized well, the flesh-colored ‘sleeves’ with designs look like real arms heavily adorned with tattoos.
With the lifestyle I am living, meaning the commuting, the swimming and the walking, I am foretelling a darker future. I am not so desperate that I’ll to be taking those injectibles and tablets soon, however. I’ll probably stay away from the sunshine vitamin as much as I can.
I’m not to be undressing in front of people as the uneven skin and the lard-infested body are not a good sight to behold; however, anything that exposes me through the work I do and the life I lead will be a preferred form of stripping.  I realized that the introduction my friend gave me was an account of a life that had lived acceptably. I think I like what I heard. I think I intend to keep my life that way.
I hope I did not sound proud. I am just grateful, that’s all.
Jeepney barker

Thursday, February 17, 2011


View from the front seat

After some time, I finally had a good 'me' time. I watched the Adam Sandler - Jennifer Aniston rom-com flick alone. People find it weird that I enjoy watching movies alone. Actually, those two precious hours in a DECENT dark airconditioned theater keeps me balanced. Call it by any name but truth remains that I thrive with my brand of sporadic solitude.

It was a romantic comedy, and I was watching it alone during the movie's  first day of release. As expected, couples cames; I even saw dancer-actor Rayver Cruz and his babe Christine Reyes. I entered the theater alone and left alone after its last screening. At 12:30 am, I was out commuting. My travel to Sucat Interchange from Alabang was shorter than the time I spent at the bus terminal. Since there were fewer people out, filling up the bus with passengers took a much longer time than usual. The longer I stayed on that ordinary bus at the terminal, the more I was making myself prone to danger. On a day after  payday, one must be extra careful. Although I was cashless like every day of my life, I had with me my netbook and cellphone.

I lived through that episode unscathed. However, I had to take one more jeepney ride to get home, hopefully, before dusk. An empty jeep passed and I took the front seat which I thought was the safest place in a jeep at night. Halfway to my destination, a seemingly nice girl took her seat beside me and started putting on her earphones as she played music from her mobile phone. Next she did was take out a cigarette and light it. Great! It was just what I needed after an exhausting long day at work. I tried not minding her since I was just a few minutes from my place. So, I instead faced the driver to see him turning right at the Petron station two blocks away from my place.

"One fifty," the driver told the gasoline attendant. I looked at the girl with her cigarette at hand.

"Hoy, alam mo ba bawal yan dito?!
"Kung gusto mong mamatay huwag mong idamay ang iba!
"Gago ka ba? Tanga ka ba?"

These would have been the words I wanted to say to that girl. I stared at her instead, fuming. She was an unfeeling b@4#h! I wanted to give her some beating. My passivity was winning over necessity. She ought to learn something. I was thinking of things to tell her when I finally arrived at my stop. Forget it. She would die of lung cancer, anyway.

"Para, ma." The vehicle stopped, and she stayed in her place. She was expecting that the whole 153 pounds of me to easily go out of that door with her cancerous body blocking my way. Ok. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Too bad she did not completely hear what I told her. I did not get the chance to pull her earphones from her. Let's just say that I was happy with what I did. I had a good and peaceful sleep after. I hope she did, too.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Another commuter talk

Ayala MRT Station

Ortigas sidewalk
Days ago, I was invited to give an inspirational talk at St. Scholastica's College-Manila. I was thrilled at this new 'development' in my life. Usually, only those people who have made it big are the ones who give talks like this. I am far from anything like that! Anyway,  I was honored! And I was also glad to have known the organizer of the program who happened to be my college classmate! My goal now was not to embarrass my classmate who had put her trust in my  so-called 'inspiring' words.

The night before the talk, I finished my six-minute speech after writing it for three hours. I wanted it to be as down-to-earth as possible, without appearing proud or pretentious. However, the nature of the speech was to inspire. How do I inspire my listeners without telling them of my little 'accomplishments?' How do I inspire them to do good? Anyway, I had to do what I had to do. I slept nearly midnight and set my phone to alarm at 5:00 am so I could be ready for my 7:30 am talk in Manila.

The alarm did work, but I woke up an hour and a half later! When I realized the time, I rushed to my bathroom and had the quickest bath. As long as I smelled good enough for the St Scholastican students, I was good to go. I wore a creased shirt and did not bother putting product on my hair. With only 40 minutes before the time, I started panicking. There was no way for me to get there on time. I was not going to miss my first-ever speaking engagement by being tardy. I was a bit frantic. I hailed all the FX that passed, but at 6:55 on a weekday morning, it was nearly impossible to  get one. I did one brave thing instead. I got into a cab!

Sweet Jesus, I was in a slightly new cab. The airconditioning comforted me, and I tried to calm myself. The idea that I was in a speeding taxi gave me some relief. Since I was seated beside the driver, we had a full view of our surrounding. Mr. cab driver was giving his take on the how irresponsible motor bike drivers were. Much as I wanted to engage him in a discussion of all known motor offenses that a Filipino driver had been committing, I simply couldn't as my thoughts were on the distance we had to travel to get to Manila on time. He went on with his mumbling, and I gave my small comments letting him know that I was on the other end of the dialog. When Vic Sotto's face came to sight, he recalled all the people the actor had helped. He briefly talked about Wally and Jose, Rene Requiestas and finally, Richie d'Horsie. His lecture on Richie led us to the driver's detailed account of his own drug use history. At that time, I just wanted to be in Manila already but not anywhere near him. I had to be polite as he told me about marijuana, and two other drugs which I had never heard before. 

Some divine intervention must have taken place as much of Pasay and Manila had clear streets. The next thing we knew, we were turning right towards Vito Cruz. I got off the cab and left him with a 20-peso tip because I did not bother waiting for my change.
The talk was a success, and I felt great. In addition to a certain amount of money and a Jollibee meal I got, I received praises from the deans and teachers of the school. Most importantly, my classmate who invited me to give the talk was happy. I was happy as well.

I left St Scho feeling good that I did something. I was not sure if I was able to inspire or teach something; I was just happy that I did not put a good friend down. I boarded an airconditioned bus on my way to Alabang only to be greeted by the 'breaking news' of former Secretary Angelo Reyes' apparent suicide. GMA 7 was airing live the events from the hospital where the former general was brought. I was glued to the bus' TV while lamenting on the sad state of our country.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Go Green!

The sight of passengers carrying paper bags instead of plastic bags inside the jeep in a Muntinlupa jeepney terminal reminded me of the wonderful city ordinance that the city was implementing effective 2011. I would not have noticed the change had it not been for the three passengers sitting close to each other who held their goods inside big paper bags. Brown paperbags were not a common sight in Muntinlupa months back. Now, it's everywhere, and it's surely a welcoming change. This bold move in the part of the local government is truly laudable. "No to plastic! No to styro!" has been their battlecry. I wish other local governments can follow suit; it's best if the entire country does the same. I wonder, though, how it is for meat and fish. I have not gone to the market to check it out myself. Consumers probably bring their own bags or bayong, which is a lot better than the paper bags.

My favorite fastfood chain is  one with the city. Jollibee stores, at least the ones in Muntinlupa, now use plastic containers instead of the styro packaging for their takeout orders. Jollibee is also seen smiling in its logo displayed in all their paper bags used for takeout. This will certainly make mother earth jolly, too. The common folks who patronize these establishments, on the other hand,  will probably begin to wonder and ask questions. The answers they will get, I hope,  will undoubtly make them  think about the situation. I have a feeling the paper bags will cause wide awareness, and awareness will open a myriad of reflection and actions.

Soon, I hope, every city or district will be implementing something similar. To be honest, it brings me joy seeing the paper bags. There is a comforting feeling seeing that something is being done for the environment. I want this feeling. I hope it becomes yours, too. :-)
Mcdonald's does the same.