man in thought in jeep, alabang, muntinlupa, Pilipinas, march 2011
Night Driving in California, Taken Sometime Ago
Realized last night that I’m pretty much blind when I’m driving at night. I had to flash my bright lights more than a few times to see where to turn, where the pedestrians are risking their lives, and if there are cars around me.
Had a good general assembly and fellowship night with my fellow Asian and Philippine Studies graduate students.
I’m slowly getting used to driving in the country. It can be very stressful - truly, it can bring out the worst in anyone - but I’m starting to realize that it’s just a matter of putting on a different mindset and attitude to survive Philippine roads and highways. A whole new level of aggression, without forgetting road courtesy and respect. I love people who use their signal lights, abhor jeeps who nonchalantly park (read: PARK!) in the middle of the road, blissfully ignoring the traffic they are causing behind them. I am getting the hang of the elliptical road. And I could use one or two drive-through coffee shops.
My Red Boots, Manila
I left the house wearing my trusty but not so baha-friendly sandals. Thankfully, my orange bus did not break down and survived the waist-high flood along España. Yes, waist-high. I told the passenger beside me, “Kailangan na ng bangka dito.” [“We need boats!”] I remembered my eldest brother’s life-changing story of walking from Taft to Muntinlupa in the same conditions.
I got to Manila and managed to get on a sidewalk without having to wade through murky water or cross a narrow plank. C and I had dinner, walked around, and, thinking about the flood awaiting me on my commute home, he bought me these red boots. These lovely, amazing, wonderful red boots.
I actually had fun walking around and through the Manila baha. I wondered why people who have probably experienced this baha a hundred times before haven’t invested in a pair of boots. I think P300 is well worth not risking some serious infection from having your feet swim in that flood water. And I don’t think it’s because people can’t afford it - I got mine in a department store, I’m sure you can get a pair from Divisoria for P100. It’s just a couple of cell phone loads worth. Oh well.
Tonight was tough in terms of commuting. Can’t say I didn’t learn a thing or two. Goodnight!
I think I met over a hundred people today, or at least it feels like it. I’m not complaining though since they all seem to be genuinely nice/interesting/funny/fascinating folks. Took the MRT home, and in the middle of the human sardine can setting, I thought to myself, “This isn’t so bad. This isn’t bad at all.” And it’s the truth, it gets all squishy and extremely close for comfort in there, but to get from point A to point B in less than an hour, for only 14 Pesos, what else can you ask for? Aside from these reasons though, I think having a positive attitude towards the hustle and bustle of Philippine cities helps a lot. I’m not saying everyone here should put on a happy face all the time and pretend everything’s in tip top shape, no, definitely not. What I’m saying and happily reminding myself everyday is that the squishing is a temporary matter, and there are much bigger things towards which we can all direct our energy. The elections in 2010, for example (which, honestly, I haven’t been paying attention to lately because of work stuff, but I will hopefully get a rhythm soon and begin to incorporate personal interests into my routine). Going back to and summarizing my point: don’t stress over the hassle of commuting, because traffic jams, crowded trains, and potholes simply exist (for now at least). Unless you’re constructively passionate about public transportation, in which case I encourage you to get pissed and do something about it, unless you’re this type of person, I think it would really help if you just figure out the most comfortable route for your trip, accept whatever the situation in that route is, and know that whatever happens, you will reach your destination. With a much more forgiving outlook, you’ll reach your destination less tired and less stressed. A lot of times, a lot of things are really just a matter of perspective. (Of course you have to do your part and make your schedule work so that you won’t be squished - to bits and pieces - during super rush hour!)
I, for one, am very excited for the MRT/LRT stretch to Monumento to be done by December! Good night!
The beauty of using public transportation to get around Manila is that you get out of your little bubble of comfort and familiar faces and see what and who really makes up this city, this country. The other day while on the MRT, I was admiring the several unique permutations of faces surrounding me. Imagine that, 80 million ++ people and no two faces are exactly the same. And then today, having decided to take the jeep home instead of a cab (a P53 difference), three unrelated females were right in front of me, and they looked like different versions of the same person at various ages - an eight year old, a teenager, and a grandmother. It was also amusing to have the jeepney driver joke around, asking each passenger their name as they were paying, “Anong pangalan?” (“What’s your name?”)
The only downside of using public transportation for me is when I have to walk past mounds of garbage on a random street corner. And that scenario is entirely preventable, if people only cared and thought more about the consequences of their actions, or the perks of actually doing the right thing.
"Magbihis ng angkop upang igalang ka ng iyong kapwa."
A friendly fashion advice from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).