Ang Buhay Ay Parang Jeepney

“Mama, bayad ko ho. Isang Quiapo, kasasakay lang. Paki abot na nga lang po.”

Iyan ang naging linya ko araw-araw noon. Matagal-tagal ko na ring hindi nasasabi ito. Dahil wala namang jeepney papuntang Quiapo dito sa Iowa.

Pero kahit mahabang panahon na akong hindi sumasakay ng jeepney, ay mayroon pa rin akong mga naranasan noon, na nagagamit ko hanggang sa ngayon.

Heto po ang mga natutunan ko sa pagsakay ng jeepney.

1. Natuto akong yumuko.

Mababa ang bubong ng jeepney, kaya’t sa pagsakay mo nito ay kailangan kang yumuko. Kung hindi ay mauuntog ka, o kaya’y matatanggalan ng ulo.

Oo nga’t maraming panahon na dapat tayong taas-noo at tuwid ang pagtindig. Ngunit may pagkakataon ding kailangan nating yumoko. Isa na ang sa pagsakay sa jeep.

Sa ating buhay, minsan kailangan nating yumoko at magpakumbaba. Tulad ng kawayan, kahit matayog ang tindig nito, ito’y yumuyuko sa malakas na hagupit ng hangin, upang hindi mabali at makatayong tuwid muli.

2. Umusog kahit konti.

Kadalasan sa pagsakay natin sa jeep ay pinakikiusapan tayong umusog kahit konti. “Konting ipit lang po,” sabi nga ng drayber.

Alam kong may mga  drayber na pinagpipilitang sampu-an ang laman ng upuan, kahit hanggang pito lang talaga ang kasya. Pero mas madalas ay makatuwiran naman ang pakiusap sa atin, para naman may maupuan din iyong ibang pasahero.

Hindi naman siguro natin ikamamatay kung kalahati lang ng puwit natin ang nakasayad sa upuan. Hindi rin naman siguro mababawasan ang pagkalalaki (o pagkababae?) natin kung uupo tayo nang hindi nakabukaka. Sa ating buhay, kailangan lang ng bigayan. Konting usog lamang po.

3. Natutong magpa-abot at maki-abot.

Hindi lahat ng oras ay makakaupo tayo sa tabi o sa likod ng drayber. May pagkakataong nasa dulo tayo ng jeep, at maliban na ikaw si Yao Ming, sigurado akong hindi mo kayang iabot ang iyong bayad nang direkto sa drayber.

Kaya makiusap tayong pakiabot na lang ang ating bayad. At kung ikaw naman ang napakiusapan, ay iabot na lamang din naman po. Ganyan talaga ang buhay sa loob ng jeepney – abut-abutan lang.

Sa ating lipunan, hindi lamang sa loob ng jeepney, ay hindi rin tayo mabubuhay ng mag-isa lang. Kailangan natin ng tulong ng isa’t-isa.

4. Maging alisto sa mga nangyayari sa aking paligid.

Marami akong nasaksihan noon na mga pasahero na natutulog sa loob ng jeep. Maaring pagod na pagod lamang sila. Meron din namang mga nakasakay na pawang gising ngunit tulog ang mga isipan.

Minsan ang mga taong tulog ay lumalagpas sa dapat nilang babaan. O mas masaklap, sila’y nadudukutan.

Maraming beses, kapag tayo’y tulog o nagtutulug-tulugan, ay nalalampasan tayo ng mga pagkakataon sa buhay. O maari naman din tayong pagsamantalahan ng mga taong maiitim ang kaluluwa. Maging alisto po sana tayo.

5. Natutong hingin ang sa akin ay nararapat.

May panahon noon na hindi ako sinuklian agad ng drayber, o kulang ang sukling ibinigay sa akin. Marahil ay hindi lang niya ako narinig ng tama, o kaya’y mali ang kanyang kwenta.

Sa pagkakataong iyon, ay aking hinihingi sa drayber ang dapat kong sukli. Dahil unang-una alam kong ako’y tama. Pangalawa, wala na akong pera at magiging kulang na ang pamasahe ko sa susunod kong sakay, at ayaw ko namang tumagaktak ang aking pawis kung ako’y maglalakad na lamang.

May pagkakataon sa buhay natin na kailangan nating ipahiwatig ang ating opinyon o kaya’y ipaglaban ang sa atin ay nararapat. Alamin ang mga bagay na ukol sa atin, at ipagtanggol ang ating karapatan.

6. Ang jeepney ay hindi Limousine, pero ihahatid ka rin nito sa iyong patutunguhan.

Opo, masikip at siksikan sa loob ng jeep. Mainit. Mausok. Hindi mo pwedeng piliin lagi ang puwesto na iyong uupuan. Hindi mo pwedeng piliin ang iyong makakatabi. Kung minsan ay mapanganib pa ang pagsakay sa jeep. Subali’t sa kabila nito, makakarating din tayo sa ating paroroonan.

Ang biyahe ng buhay ay parang biyahe sa jeepney. Hindi laging maginhawa parang biyaheng sakay ng Limousine. Konting tiis at tiyaga lamang po. Aabot din tayo sa ating gustong marating.

Hanggang dito na lamang po, sa susunod na lang muli.

“Mama para na diyan sa tabi!”

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Quiapo circa 1980’s

(*photo from here)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

Here is my son. The future…..

Flight Commander to the mission to Mars.

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Chief engineer to the world’s tallest skyscraper that dwarfs Burj Khalifa.

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And a Medieval knight? Wait a minute…..Middle Ages is in the past, not in the future. Oh well, this is after he built the time machine!IMG_4604_2

(*entry for WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge prompt)

Terminal Waiting

I already stated in a previous post that I really don’t like airports and terminals, because I associate them with goodbyes and separation. Just ask any overseas worker or an expat, and they most probably will agree with this sentiment.

Well there’s another reason that I abhor airports and terminals is because of the wait and the time-killing involved especially during long layovers. Not to mention if your connecting flight is delayed, then it can really be agonizing.

My last travel back home to the Philippines, which involved a total of 17 hours of flight time, with 2 connecting flights and layovers, includes a total of 23 hours from my airport of origin to my airport destination. That means I sit for 6 hours in an airport terminal just waiting. Six long idle hours waiting and doing nothing!

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Until I happen to have my layover in this terminal gate in Minneapolis, that killing time became a less tedious experience. In fact, it was even enjoyable.

The place was highly wired, with several televisions and many available (yes, empty!) seats with each individual iPad on them, with fast internet connection. The best part is it is free to use with no time limit as long as you are still in the terminal. Maybe they should offer this convenience with a cot so a weary traveler can even lie down and relax. That will be a dream layover!

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The annexing restaurant offers the same convenience of free iPad use and internet connection, with added benefit of ordering delicious food (though a bit pricey just like anything in an airport) and eating it in an unwinding atmosphere that you would not feel that you’re in an airport gate. But in truth, the terminal gate is a look away so you don’t have to worry of being left behind. However with these amenities, maybe you would like to be left behind.

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And what do you suppose I did with my almost three hours of layover in this terminal? I could not help it. I gave in. No, not the part of being left behind.

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Driving Rules for Metro Manila (A Primer for the Uninitiated)

During my last visit to the Philippines, I have to be re-oriented to the pervading traffic rules in Metro Manila. Since I grew up in Manila, I really thought these rules are the norm for all drivers around the world, but I have to unlearn them when I started driving in the United States.

This is a primer for tourists visiting the Philippines, or long-gone expats, and for all the uninitiated. As our latest tourism campaign goes: it’s more fun in the Philippines.

1. When approaching an intersection with traffic light: green means go; yellow means go faster; red means it is optional to stop if there’s a policeman patrolling nearby, otherwise you can still go at your own risk.

2. The painted lines to mark the lanes on the road are just for decorative purposes to make the road look nicer, for they don’t have any other purpose at all; you can swerve in between lanes as much as you want, and even into the opposing traffic lane.

3. When driving, put your one hand at the steering wheel, while the other hand on the horn; it is expected that you blow your horn every 5 seconds or even more frequent than that; it is a common courtesy that if somebody blows their horn on you, that you answer them back or blow your horn louder and longer.

4. When approaching a 4-way stop or any open intersection without traffic light, the rule is that the most faint of heart will need to stop first. No need to slow down, and just let the other drivers with less courage slam on their brakes.

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5. Seatbelts are for sissy. These safety belts hanging on the sides of the vehicles are there for ornamental function only. Do not touch them nor fasten them around you, or else they will know that you’re a tourist or a visitor.

6. In case a policeman stopped you for a “traffic violation” and asked for your driver’s license, they don’t mean the card with your photo, but a piece of paper with a Philippine hero’s image on it, or also known as money. The higher the currency, the faster you will be let go.

7. Expect to be stuck in traffic for hours; so bring a snack, a book to read, or even a urinal. If you are really in a hurry but don’t mind to sweat, walk instead; it will take you 2 hours to drive during rush hour a distance you can walk in 30 minutes.

8. Pedestrians have the right of way at all times not just on pedestrian lanes or crossing lanes; they can cross anytime and anywhere they want. They can even play “patintero” (a popular Filipino children’s game) with the rushing vehicles. Watch out for pedicabs and bicycles too for they can go anywhere (and make “singit”) even against the flow of traffic on the opposite lanes.

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9. Public utility vehicles (jeepneys, FX, buses, taxis, and tricycles) are the kings of the road, they can stop in the middle of the road to let their passengers alight or pick-up more passengers, so beware. Of course there are loading and unloading zones for passengers, but nobody really care about those zones.

10. When you are on the road, whether you are stuck in traffic, or exasperated with the other drivers, just remember to always keep your sense of humor. Driving in the Philippines should be treated as a comedy, though in reality it is a tragedy.

Now that you know these rules, please drive “safely.”

(*photos from here)