No thanks to the oil cartel, I’ve gone back to riding public transportation. I am not ashamed of it; I could not afford not to cut back my consumption of gasoline since gasoline appears to be headed to the P50/liter level. I’ve decided to take public transportation at least twice a week.
In the short span of time that I’ve used public transportation, I’ve developed a healthy respect for the common commuter (reverberation intended). Metro Manila’s public transportation system is not only antiquated, it is also close to legalized masochism.
Take the common air-conditioned bus; I could never understand how they could fit three persons in a bench built for two. And then there is the FX van, taxi, AUV, whatever name you’d call it. Why would they fit four in the middle bench when clearly it was built for three? And then there are the jump seats in the back of the FX. It is shear torture to ride there with three more persons, locking your elbows and knees in one position for the forty five minute ride. When you fit people in the cargo hold, funny things are bound to happen. Take this hapless guy I rode with, he conked his head no fewer than three times against the steel frame of the FX. Stupid driver did not know how to use the brakes when he encounters a hump. It reminds me of this army sergeant who drove our 6 x 6 trucks during my ROTC days. From Villamor Air base to Ateneo, he didn’t stop at nothing. So here we were getting tossed around with the cargo of rifles and bullets. Later we discovered that the poor guy just got back from Mindanao---and survived an ambush. Just our luck that he was suffering from post traumatic stress.
“AMBUSH!!! AMBUSH!!! YAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!”
Going back to public transportation, then there are taxicabs. You can always spot the wimps, they are the ones who flag down a taxi and negotiates with the driver even before he boards the taxi. Take my advice, get a taxi, open the door without saying a word, sit down, close the door after which politely tell the guy to bring you to your destination. By law, he cannot refuse to convey you. But have some pity too. The poor guy gets P5-P10 out of every trip, no thanks to our oil company friends. If the service is good, be generous with your tips.
Jeepneys. Yep, no matter how the ultra-nationalist says so, the jeep is obsolete, dangerous and dirty. Their place is in a museum. I am amazed that many jeepneys today uses real glass windows in their passenger compartments. Not only will they hide a hold-up taking place, they will also shatter into thousands of lethal projectiles when the jeep meets an accident. I also pity the poor driver, his lungs is probably as dirty as the underpass in Manila.
Tricycles. I have relearned that tricycles are fun to ride. For a week now, I ride the tricycle going out of the house to the FX station. My daughter rides with me, since she has swimming practice at the village pool. She likes it a lot. The wind in your hair, aaaah, refreshing (unless the driver has body odor).
The MRT should be the future of Metro Manila's mass transport system, but what we get is too little.
If you are a member of the riding public (meaning you do not have a car and use public transportation 100% of the time), give yourself a pat in the back. For if you could ride out Manila’s public transportation, you are smarter and tougher than you give yourself credit for.