Monday, March 27, 2006



the trick is acceptance. there are some things in this world that we can never have any control over: the oppressive heat of the sun while commuting or the lashing rain while crossing the street to catch a jeep. like I said, the trick is to accept some things as they come. take the world infamous traffic of Metro Manila (last I checked were ranked next to Bangkok in severity in Asia. Bangkok is number 1). If your stuck in traffic, it will be best if you just accept that you will be late as opposed to stressing over something on which you can never control.

“traffic na nga may humarang pa na bus. tama ba namang magsakay sa gitna ng kalye?”

the granny on my right doesn’t get it. she can rant all she wants, she can focus her ill will on the driver of the errant bus before us, she can call on all known gods for deliverance, she can do all this which gives her in return a healthy workout in an exercise of futility. The blocking bus will only move after getting its fill of passengers or after an MMDA trooper hits its body with a wooden baton.

“ano ba yan. pano pa tayo uusad kung hinarangan na ang daan.”

relax granny relax. beyond the blocking bus is a stretch of slow moving traffic. I’ve been here before, yesterday, the day before yesterday, all of the last year. The time window that were in, our current location, the presence of traffic now, it’s a firm constant.

You do not fight gravity because you will always lose. I add fuel to the fire:

“loko talaga ang mga bus na yan. wala kasing disiplina.”

The granny becomes 10 percent more furious.

“yan na nga bang sinasabi ko. Hindi kasi hinuhuli ng MMDA”

FACT: MMDA personnel cannot issue road violation tickets to motorists. I tell granny that the bugger bus seems to be moving. the bus we ride moves to take its place. we stop to get more passengers. The circle is complete.

many many weeks ago, I got stuck in flash bang traffic at the southbound SLEX at 10p. I could’ve gotten pissed and said: “how the hell could there be traffic at 10pm?”. but no. I just chilled. I’m always like this, whether I’m hurrying to somewhere or whether I have all the time in the world. Two seat rows from me is a couple (see picture). The girl sits like she owns the place. her mind isn’t here I thought. it’s in a wonderful place where she has her love who ardently listens to all her stories. Me, I just sat back, took out my 128mb mp3 player and I proceeded to relax in the presence of Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine. I smell around, someone is eating freshly cooked peanuts procured from a bus ambulant vendor. Yeah.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006



He goes inside seconds after the bus moves out of the terminal. From the entrance to the end and back, he moves with a basket full of goodies. All are priced at P5 a pop which covers five individually wrapped candies repacked in clear plastic. I’m a big fan. The last Candyman that I patronized was this small sun burnt man with gaunt features. He went around the bus chanting:

“kaindeeah. kaindeeah. kaindeeah… kaindeeah kayo jan. panlibang sa biahe. kaindeeah. kaindeeah.”

he spoke like a drunken man; rather, like a man who has lived half his adult life in drunken stupor. When he sells his stuff, you’d hear this sharp raspy voice and words that feel like he has recited them a hundred million times:

“kaindeeah. kaindeeah. kaindeeah…”

he passes by. I ask him for my fave of the lot. I give him my P5 coin for the exchange and then he leaves me, continuing his mantra.

I love the Candyman. Below are the delights he peddles:

White Rabbit – Lower version of the real white rabbit that we all grew up with. This caramel flavored hard candy is my favorite although unlike its sibling, you cannot eat the secondary wrapper. My advice, open and consume two at a time for heightened caramel goodness.

Snow Bear – Hard mint candy; I’m not sure if it has a chocolate center. I’ll have to check.

Orange Swits (no typo, it’s really Swits) - Four pieces of orange flavored… er, non translucent gummy bear like candy. Good to chew on but always keep some water handy for the killer sweet caused thirst that follows.

Mentos – known as the new school of street candies with a wide following among yuppies and the young. Slogan alert: “Mentos, the freshmaker”. See the Foo Fighters’ video for Big Me for the alternative slogan: “Footos, The Fresh Fighter”.

Stork – I remember back in the 80’s; well back in the 80’s you could say I remember back in the 70’s. Stork is one of the grand daddy’s of bus candies. It has survived political strife (Martial Law, EDSA) and countless natural (Storms and Earthquakes) and man made (PR; a TV show covered its factories revealing how dirty the place is. Cockroaches were involved) disasters. There is even a rumor that if you consume too much Stork, you become, sterile. Either way, Stork will probably go on far beyond our life spans.

V Fresh – Alas, Juicy Fruit bowed out of the street and got a better image; it has since been replaced by V Fresh, a fun gum with the same annoying tenacity of the ol Juicy when accidentally stepped on on the streets.

Halls – We get two flavors: the classic yellow wrapped Honey Lemon and Halls White. I was never a fan of the former; the latter on the other hand is good for a ciggy combo.

Maxx – Another candy with a twin presence in the Candyman’s mobile storefront. You can choose between Cherry and Green. I really don’t know why, but I always come out thirsty after enjoying the Maxx brand.

The bus rolls along, humming angrily in its wake. There is no one here who can say NO to a free goody offer from the Candyman. There will always be something for someone, no matter what. I guess the only sad thing is that the bearer of delights is usually a hard working man thinned by circumstance. It’s like seeing an emaciated Saint Nick bearing gifts. I guess the best way to help is to always buy. What’s a P5 coin for a few treats every time you ride a bus; well, it means a lot to the Candyman.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006



why do I always get the crazy ones. busmates can be classified into two groups: the sane and the insane. of the sane, there is only one subcategory with one general description: they are quiet, they mind their own business and they ardently pray that they get seatmates with these same qualities. for the insane class, a.k.a. the Crazies, you have 30 or so subcategories. this morning I got the one which is the most common of all: the lost commuter.

“pre, pwede magtanong?”

I nod the smallest nod in the world.

“sanbababa kung San Pedro?”

horror of horrors. The bus was headed for Manila from Alabang via the South Luzon Express way. no stops would be made in Sucat or Bicutan. this man was headed in the opposite direction. I answer: “di ako sigurado eh.”

“sige, salamat.”

by my calculations, a full minute passes.

“pre, alam mo ba kung san bababa kung San Pedro?”

this man has amnesia.

“di ako sigurado. pero alam ko pa south yun. pa north tong bus. baba ka ng Mantrade tapos dun ka pwedeng magtanong.”

the man, wide eyed, repeats my advised stop.


I nod. soon the inevitable hits me:

“saan ang Mantrade?”

“unang babaan.”

when we reach Mantrade, the man double confirms if he should go down. I nod. the less I say, the shorter the conversation; but then a flash pang of conscience hits me:

“tawid ka sa kabila tapos sakay ka ng Alabang. pag baba mo, wag ka tatawid. hintay ka na lang ng bus na San Pedro. may dadaan dun."

The man gets even with me: he nods a small nod. I am certain that he has disregarded my advice. he will go back to Alabang and ask another person for directions for San Pedro, Laguna. there is no helping him.

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