from the commuter

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Painting, commuting, shooting, and other -ing endings

I tried painting over the weekend.

I finally had the courage to take it up, something I had been wanting to do for the longest time. I don't have any formal training, so Youtube was the best resource I had.  I did my first painting Sunday afternoon, 29th of January, and  finished my second painting at thirty past twelve midnight of the next day. I was so engrossed that I lost track of time. I was forgetting that I had to be up for work in a few hours.

A good first try, I think.

 I was beaming with pride for my creations. They are not exactly museum quality, but they deserve a place in my small abode. I have yet to learn how to blend colors and many other things. The flower painting is too dark while the mountain scenery is too light. Nevertheless, I am happy with my work. I shouldn't be too hard on myself. Besides, it's my first attempt to use oil.

With only few hours of sleep and with fingers smudged with paint, I was off to work by seven, to make it in time for the flag raising ceremony that Monday morning. I started panicking when vehicles were moving at a snail-paced along MIA road. I don't ever recall experiencing heavy traffic in this area even on a Monday morning. I surmised something was wrong, an accident maybe, ahead of us.

After a thirty-minute agony, I survived the heavy traffic, arriving at the office just in nick of time. I learned there was a film shooting in Buendia. A bus was made to appear to be falling off the flyover. "Ah, Bourne Legacy!" The mention of the film's title made everyone forgive the inconvenience it brought to all motorists and commuters. Who wouldn't be? The movie will certainly help promote the country, and we are too happy to have Hollywood stars come over here.

 Few minutes after I arrived, I saw the traffic along Roxas Boulevard the shooting created. While one side (south-bound) of the street had few cars, the other appeared like an extension of the parking lot to its right.

Tuesday morning, I learned from the morning show, Unang Hirit that the Buendia flyover shooting was for GMA 7's new soap. Upon hearing the news, I told myself, "ok" and hoped not to experience the same inconvenience again.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Do I or don't I?

For a tourism website that we were working on, I was tasked to write a do's and dont's article for foreign travelers to the Philippines. I knew a few things, but I still had to research on the topic. As a result of my research, I ended up writing this:

Do’s and Dont’s in the Philippines

Don’t be surprised to see kids and adults alike waving at you as your taxi makes it way to the welcoming streets of the Philippines. It’s really the nature of the Filipinos to extend their warmth to any guest of their country. This hospitality or generosity towards visitors is the Filipinos’ most endearing trait, making the Philippines one of the most tourist-friendly countries in the world.

Like any other country, the Philippines has its share of peculiarities that reflect its unique culture and traditions. Knowing these customs and traditions will get any visitor to know more of the Filipinos and their country. In addition,  any visitor to the country could very  well benefit from these reminders to make their stay more enjoyable and memorable. 


Expect to be invited to the homes of Filipinos. They will offer you everything and anything on their dining table. They would appreciate if you partake of the food offered.  If you happen to show up during meal time, an extra chair will be made available to you. In short, do eat when you’re offered food. Don’t offend your hosts by refusing outright.

When you happen to see a group of shoes or slippers congregated outside your host’s abode,  you may be asked to leave you footwear outside also. They will offer you house slippers, or if they don’t, the house is most likely clean. 


The Spaniards influenced how greeting is done in the Philippines. “Beso-beso” or a simple cheek to cheek contact is a way  of greeting people especially among the ladies. If it’s not done, do smile or a say ‘hi’  and expect a smile in return.

If you’re white, don’t get offended if people think you’re American

Do come in appropriate clothes when an occasion calls for them.  Although the Philippines is a walkable country, not all places would welcome you in your flip-flops and shorts. Churches, government institutions and some restaurants would require proper attire. Besides, if you come well dressed, Filipinos will admire you, and it’s always fun to dress up!

Your sense of humor will come in handy in the country. Do laugh when you make a mistake like mispronouncing a name or getting lost. Expect that Filipinos will share that laugh with you.

Don’t lose your temper. Gain composure and assess the situation. Filipinos will help you for as long as you don’t embarrass them in public.

Although tipping is not institutionalized as a custom, do leave something on the table.


Don’t give alms to the poor.  Mendicancy and giving of alms are offenses in the Philippines. If you wish to exercise your charity,  there are institutions who will gladly open their doors for you. In a related note, don’t open your car window to street kids.

Make sure your stomach can handle the street food. Don’t eat street food unless you know it’s safe for consumption.

When on the streets, don’t get offended by stares. Filipinos marvel at anything foreign. 

Don’t be too showy of your valuables and gadgets

Don’t be too trusting of the people you meet for the first time. It’s best to be vigilant and put your common sense to use wherever you may be.

Do use the thumbs-up sign for “OK!” The common sign of OK would mean money in the Philippines. 

Don’t use the index finger to call or point at someone.  Locals would use “Pssst!” to call someone; however, this is deemed to be a rude way of catching people’s attention. Calling someone by his or her name is still recommended.

Using proper appellations for elders shows respect. Get to know these appellations and other titles. You will be endeared to the Filipinos once they hear you say that. Do show respect to anyone regardless of their social class or age.

The article had the intention of educating  foreigners on the Filipinos' cultural intricacies, but it went on teaching me something as well. I have known all of these things all along, but still the research was much needed. I tried to analyze why I couldn't have thought of those without researching. I inferred that I don't know much about foreigners, their own culture and their perceptions of the Filipinos. What would they have done that they shouldn't be doing? Frankly, I wouldn't be able to give a complete answer. But am I worried? No. Honestly, I am more inclined to learning about my culture than learning about others'.

Writing the article showed me a view other than my own. It also made me smile to know that Filipinos are all those.

I did submit the article. My editor-colleague  edited and added additional information to the article, and, as a result, the article underwent some changes. It turned out better, I think. So is my appreciation of our culture. 

You may read the article on this site.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Vigan, for me, would have been the best place in the Philippines to take a ‘kalesa’ (horse-drawn carriage) ride, but I did not. It was an opportunity missed, but I took what was a far second best option --- the tricycle. So here are my shots of the streets of Vigan aboard the tricycle.

I did not have an idea as to how much the fare cost. I simply just gave 10 pesos for a short afternoon trip from the Plaza to my hotel since I felt that 10 pesos would be reasonable for the distance traveled and the locale I was in . The driver did not complain and sped off. Afterwards, I confirmed with the hotel personnel the fare. He added that drivers would charge more at night. Well, the idea that streets lengthen at night  is not exactly new to me. 

Not taking the kalesa was not a complete  loss, however.  Vigan is best enjoyed on foot. The ‘old’ district is a little more than a square kilometer I think. It was a delight to be walking on the streets of Vigan, particularly Crisologo Street. I would occasionally cross paths with foreigners, but frequently with local tourists. The colors and scents emanating from the souvenir, craft and food shops confirmed the thriving tourism in Vigan, and it was not even a weekend when we went there. Vigan’s appeal rests on the feeling and mood it invokes in its visitors. The place is a tremendous source of Filipino pride for me. To be able to freeze a town’s architecture and structure that showcase a lifestyle that mirrors Filipino life then and now is a feat worth recognizing. UNESCO came ahead of me in recognizing the town’s charm when it inscribed Vigan as a World Heritage Site.

As I said, Vigan is best explored on foot, and this I did with much passion. So here are my ‘on foot’ photos.
They have these trykes, too.
For P150, you get to tour Vigan. I would have spent this much for the experience if time permitted. Our schedule was full.
Calle Crisologo

Oops...This one was taken from the hotel balcony.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jeepney Argument

One topic led to another, and eventually to the issue of traffic congestion in Manila. 

“They should just ban all jeepneys, and stop being sentimental about them.”

My face cringed. Someone saw my expression and asked me what I thought of the statement.

“I am a commuter,” I said vehemently. 

Jeepney rider
Another jeepney rider
“I am a semi-commuter also, but jeeps just cause much of the traffic. And of course there is the issue on environment,” a car owner who occasionally commutes said.

I could not take a word more, and tried to compose an argument in my head.

The traffic problem in Manila is not only attributed to the existence of jeepneys. 

Before I could even say anything as if I was ready for some debate, the talk on jeepneys ended, and a new topic emerged.

That brief sharing of opinions gave me a glimpse of how the people around me think on that subject.
Perhaps, if you’re on the driver seat, you see things differently as compared to the things seen from the passenger seat. Perhaps, a driver who has forgotten how to commute and has no recollection of commuting or being poor would not understand why I reacted strongly. 

I will not forever defend the jeeps, but I know very well why I and countless other Filipinos take them. The jeeps are not perfect, this we already know, but unless we have other options, we will keep on enjoying our jeepney rides.

It was a topic so close to my heart that I talked it out to another person later that day. 

“The (jeepney) body has to be modified. It should fit more people. Environmental laws should be applied to all jeepneys. It’s a pity we have “Clean Air Act” but public transports violate this law. But to totally take them off the streets would be a loss to our heritage,” he said as I sat on the passenger seat of his car. 

I thought he made sense, and he did not sound arrogant.

For as long as (1) I don’t have a car, (2) there’s no efficient mass transport system servicing the entire metropolis, (3) my desire to continuously have an affinity with the common people is not taken away, (4) I am poor, and (5) I want to, I shall take the jeep. And if you happen to ride with me, say ‘hi,’ will you?
FX Rider

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Airport post

Checking in at Zamboanga International Airport
Zamboanga Airport
At Zamboanga International Airport 1/1/12

Morning flights to Manila were diverted to Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga because of the heavy smog enveloping the airport area, the three airlines announced in their Facebook accounts. I was alarmed upon learning about this in the early morning of the first day of 2012; I am flying back to Manila in the afternoon. At nine in the morning, I was relieved to find out that the operations in the country’s premier airport had been back to normal. I just imagine the celebrations, the smoke, in Manila the night before. Zamboanga, of course, had its share in the revelry. When the morning broke, our maid, Manang, already cleared the house of any remnant of the revelry, and I partook of what’s left of the Media Noche dinner, took a bath, packed my things and readied myself for my flight back to Manila.

Again, I am writing this blog post at the airport. It’s an hour before my estimated time of departure, and there is no way of saying if we are leaving on time. Airline advisories have informed passengers that there might be delays brought about by the closure of the Manila airport in the morning.  I am not going to be surprised if our flight is delayed. I shall make use of the time contemplating and doing other things to while the time away.

The pre-departure area is slowly creeping with people. ABS-CBN’s ASAP is on, and my attention is divided between finishing this post and watching the dance and song numbers. And if I have a short post, please understand that I have chosen to watch TV. Hehehe! It’s ten minutes before our scheduled boarding, and there has not been any sign of a plane leaving. I think we have a delayed flight. 

For a 40-peso terminal fee, you get a fan in a not-so-well-lit pre-departure area.
I shall post this in Manila the moment I get an Internet connection. For now, I leave you with this greeting: “Happy New Year! May 2012 be a great source of many things for us!”

 In Paranaque 1/1/12

 I arrived safely; the sky was clear and not a trace of the smog that caused the airport to close. Oh well, a new year has begun. And yes, our flight was two hours delayed.

No tube for us. The stairs we must take.

In view: Cebu Pacific Baggage Carousel

I like how the fluorescent lamps reflect on the floor

Mass at the airport