from the commuter

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

This comfort called FX

With the implementation of the Integrated Bus Terminal Project at the Coastal Mall for southern provincial-bound passengers, many of my colleagues at work take the van/fx at the Mall of Asia. The new system prohibits provincial buses from entering the city and has designated a terminal to load and unload provincial passengers. This has caused problems for and complaints from both provincial passengers and bus operators. The passengers complain that they have to take multiple rides to reach their destination. The bus operators don't quite like the strict policy of dispatch, giving them only five minutes to load passengers. In fact, bus drivers staged a protest yesterday leaving commuters stranded for the most part of the morning.  On one hand, the good news, in my view, is that there are fewer buses on the streets of Manila, no more crowding at Roxas Boulevard corner EDSA. The AUVs and vans are, of course, exempt and thus enjoy the freedom to ply the city from any point of Luzon. Like me, most would rather take one straight journey (and it can be cheaper, too) than hop on and hop off several vehicles even though buses are slightly more comfortable than the vans/fx.
At the Integrated Bus Terminal at the Coastal Mall in Paranaque

While I acknowledge that taking buses is more comfortable than taking the FX, my choice is still the latter. I still take it knowing that my knees will touch someone else's when I face that someone, or that I will have to settle for a small share of the seat. But complain I shall not do.

Yet,  I have to understand the "in-out, in-out" dynamics in public utility vehicles, particularly in FX. I find this an interesting topic to observe as it covers gender, age, and physical factors.

Just what dictates who gets to take a full space in a room full of passengers in the FX?

More than two decades of commuting could not give a me a definite answer to my questions. I do have observations, however. More than anything, I think it's one's comfort that makes a passenger claim his/her well-deserved butt space. It is with this thought that I look forward to having slender girls as my co-passengers in the FX. Usually the person who is last to enter has the unfortunate distinction of being 'out.' More women than men tend to go 'out' without being forced to do so; men are likely to squeeze their seatmates while women don't want to be squeezed. I suppose, at times, there is powerplay in the game; the passengers who have their right share of space assert themselves, knowing perfectly well that only three and a half people could comfortably sit in the car. The 'half' passenger must know his or her place. Young ones with their headsets on are likely to ignore everyone else and be oblivious to the rest as long they are seated properly and enjoying their music. Although I see people ask that they be let out if they cannot sit properly, most still go on with their journey uncomplaining. Those who try to make a big fuss would get comments such as, "Mag-taxi ka na lang (Take a cab)" or "Bumili ka ng sarili mong sasakyan (Go buy your own car)."

Those Asian Utility Vehicles can accommodate four  passengers in the backseat regardless of the shape and size of the passengers. THEY MUST ALL FIT. Through the years, I have seen different models of cars, not exactly AUVs that are made to be "FXs." There are now vans that are being used. AUV Express as it is known has been gaining popularity among the riding public. The FXs, Revos, HiAces provide some comfort, airconditioning, and terminal to terminal service to the growing middle class who do not wish to take the jeeps, ordinary buses or multiple trips. The FX riding public has developed patience, understanding, apathy and selfishness all at the same time. Who is to blame? Conditions, presented to them day in day out, make them the way they are. 

Does this mean that car-owning individuals are a different breed of their own?

I am not so sure about that, although one thing I am sure of is that we all take the same road. It is how we deal on the road that spells the difference, whether you are in a car, taxi, bus or FX. 

Random picture on the plane. Unrelated photo.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Remiss, revisit, retell and reflections

So I have been remiss in a lot of things, such as blogging and even failing to greet friends on their birthdays. One dear friend said she did not expect that I would miss her birthday after greeting her the day after.

Yes so much has been going on that I have no blog post for the previous month; last month should have been a great source of posts because a lot happened. But, no, I did not write any.

It has very been very busy. But I was thinking of topics to write.

First in my list is this:

I plan to take the train by October. I have no idea where I am going, but I'll definitely be riding on one.

You see, before the year ends, I will be going somewhere, a different continent, for a long time. Taking the train in the Philippines is certainly in Commuter's must-do list. 

I hope to be able to write something on this train ride I will be taking.

Another post worthy of its own post but I am not doing one is my Sagada trip with my good friends. It was a well-deserved break, a total contrast from the life in the city. It has been weeks since that trip but I am still raving about it. Enduring the 13-hour ride to Sagada and back was nothing compared to the experience of the culture, nature, the people and weather of the Mountain Province, a northern Philippine province, that we were able to enjoy for two whole days.

At the Pasay Terminal of Victory Liner. Baguio bound.

Mountains upon mountains welcome you as you make your way to Sagada. Truly breathtaking.

Rice terraces abound.

The Big Falls in Sagada. It was a long trek but worth every step.

Market day in Sagada

American influence, not Spanish, is evident in Sagada. There are very few Catholics in this predominant Anglican society that still honors the indigenous traditions of Sagada's ancestors.

Traditional burial site

Cave formations

A day-long wedding celebration that I was very fortunate to gatecrash. Native dances and instruments provided entertainment to the guests of the bride and groom. For me, this was one genuine cultural experience.

Good things must come to an end; hence, a trip back to Baguio must be made before heading toManila.

The randomness of this post is similar to my "Northern Exposure" adventure I had. I was with adventurous and sometimes 'random' people that made the trip more enjoyable and memorable.

Baguio became part of the itinerary because Manila-bound buses were scarce, and we had to wait until the evening to get our ride. In the process I got to see a bit of Baguio. This was a place I enjoyed going to when I was younger, and up to now. Call it stupid but foggy places such as Baguio bring me joy. Just imagine how happy I was when the city was (nearing) one-digit visibility.
Fog in Baguio

I did pray for a safe travel back to Manila, knowing quite well a typhoon was wreaking havoc in some places in Luzon and Visayas at that very moment. My prayer must have been heard because nothing untoward happened on our descent to Manila. The days after that however became witness to the might of "Maring" that left Manila and large parts of Luzon underwater.

Sunday night, August 18, I was out from church when the rain started to show signs that it was not stopping. I spent the next two days at home as work was called off, and there was just absolutely nowhere to go with the unceasing rain.

Dark clouds in the horizon. Taken from my window.

Sister approaching the building. She had our food with her so it was important that I meet her at the ground floor. hehe.
The reports of the typhoon showed the catastrophe brought by typhoons, clogged drainage and human irresponsibility. On Wednesday, a holiday, I simply had to go out for I missed the outdoors terribly. On the main road, I saw for myself the post-typhoon scenario: shops were still closed; garbage, silt, mud were everywhere; children were playing in the puddles. I hopped on a jeep and, to my surprise, initiated a talk with the driver. He was not able to work for two days, the driver said. I sat patiently and quietly as he waited for more passengers to ride his jeep.