Wednesday, August 23, 2006



I’ve always wondered how it’s done: how an old lady could go from her home to a destination so far away with three large bags full of heavy things. If you commute a lot, which I do, then you’d know what I’m talking about. Ride a jeep and you’d see an old emaciated granny transporting bags and bags of meat and fish and produce. All this weight, measured in kilos or by bulk, a burden shouldered by others, from the market to her home. On busses, you see boxes wrapped in cheap straw alongside large bags made of rainbow colored plastic fabric; moving them across town is a lone granny: a virtual Hercules propped by brittle bones and wrapped in tired skin.

So how is it done?

The Lola prepares her load at home, with no thought on weight or bulkiness. Then she sets out. From the front of her abode, a tricycle driver stops and alights from his beast of burden. He carries the old lady’s stuff into his ride and the lady sits and they spirit away. This process is repeated from here to the jeep, to the bus and to the next PUV in the old woman’s Journey. The lady reaches her destination, and the only thing that she has carried is an old black purse aged to its limit and maybe a small plastic bag of pasalubong.

Why is it done?

Why is it done, meaning why would everyone on the road, why would everyone stop and help out any old lady? I’ve done this a hundred times, and in all instances I realize that it’s a reflex based action. I wait for the bus; an old lady is by my side, patiently waiting too with luggage by her foot. The bus arrives and in tandem with the kunduktor, we help the old lady with her stuff. No questions asked, no eye contact, no nothing: just a reflex reaction to the scenario at hand. It is done because the alternative is not acceptable, under any circumstance.

Why risk it?

Go to the U.S. or Canada or to France or to any other first world European country and you wont see old ladies commuting with a load five times their weight. Why the oldies of these countries don’t do this, I don’t know. Why the grandma I rode in the bus with this morning would risk it, well she knows in her soul that all would help the same way she helped all when everyone was young and needed food to eat. For when we needed to get well from a fever, she was there. For when we pooped in our pants, she was there to clean us up. For each instance that you needed someone to hit cash from, she was there to hand you something. We automatically help the same way she did so long ago, when she was fit and able. We automatically help because in her advanced years, she still helps back in her own Herculean way.

Somewhere, in a crowded bus terminal, there sits an old lady. Beside her is a kid, around them are their belongings. Three large bags, a tin of biscuits and a bayong of vegetables: all weightless. The old lady fixes her glasses around her small nose; she looks at her watch, then at the busses, then at the kid: another day will pass, a hundred thousand more to go.

curiosity killed the cat:

Monday, August 14, 2006


film review: Fist of Fury

Bruce Lee walks by a wooded trail while eating chips. His path is blocked by a fence. First he looks, then he does a 2 second assessment and then with no fear, he does a short sprint towards the wall and jumps. On the other side, he is met with the main bad guy of the film along with his thugs. Bruce Lee threatens them all. The thugs, being thugs, mindless and all, they rush to Bruce hoping to pound the beeejeeezuz out of him. Bruce furiously eats his chips and beats them all up with elegant kung fu. The Evil Boss is next. Chips are thrown aside. They fight and in the process, three things happen to Bruce:

1. He gets a knife wound on the cheek
2. His shirt gets torn off
3. His anger increases ten fold after being subjected to verbal abuse

Don’t worry, these things always happen to Bruce. He’s used to it. Either way, Bruce wins in the end and similar to our movies, the cops arrive after all the fighting has been done.

I have to admit, this would be the first time I’ve seen a Bruce Lee film while riding a bus. It’s usually Face Off / Armageddon / or some other B movie with forgettable actors and a storyline that rivals the complexities of children’s books. I have to admit too that everyone’s attention was drawn to the tube as the movie played; I’ve thought of the reasons why this is so, beyond the fact that everyone doesn’t have anything better to do while the bus raged on by the highway. I’m guessing it’s because with Bruce Lee films, it’s really cool to know that in the end, you’d always see good prevailing over evil and that if this only happened most of the time in the real world then everyone wouldn’t be glued so much to the bus TV as they are now. Oh well.

The VCD is flipped. The early scenes of Fist of Fury are shown. You see Bruce Lee alighting from a big boat along with an old man. They walk around a bit, on a sun bright path lined with thin shrubs. They get hungry so they eat by a road side eatery. A very beautiful lady serves them bowls of Chinese food goodness. Then it happens. Four guys go in and bully the lady. The camera focuses on Bruce Lee. His eyes seethe with anger. Go on Bruce, its ok. We understand. Beat them up; we’d do the same thing if we could.

curiosity killed the cat:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006



I got a nice long letter the other week. whew. ok. in one square go:

1. The Love Bus was an ambitious brainchild of Imelda Marcos. It was a very popular ride back in its day due to its relative newness versus the old dilapidated aircon busses at the time. Imelda called it the “love bus” because she got inspired by the “love boat”, a TV series that was very popular in the 80’s. yeah.

2. you still need to be careful of the manyaks in the bus. They are still out there and their methods have evolved through the years.

3. cockroaches bug me too. Some days you’ll see a lone wolf crawling around the bus. Other days, you’ll see a whole brood of assorted cockroaches in varying stages of development (baby, teenager, strapping young adult, the geezer roach). The best defense against them is apathy. I’ve discovered that the more you notice them, the more they gravitate towards you. so.

4. it’s 7 because their number 1 in the local network wars. I think it’s a good ratings barometer: the more you see shows from a specific channel while riding the bus, the more odds that their numero uno in the land. needless to say, don’t forget your book/mp3 player when riding. They help maintain your sanity amidst the mindless banter of noontime game shows.

5. I get squeezed too by big hairy ape men who smell funny. There is no escape from this.

6. yes, they do forget sometimes to give change. I don’t get mad, I just let it slide. You are right to think that maybe the change you didn’t get helped them in some way. It does. The kunduktor/bus driver has a quota that must be reached per day. If they need to earn P5000 pesos and they only get P4,500, then they will shoulder from their pockets the balance of P500. life is hard for these people. Give them your sympathy and patience as much as you can. :-D

7. and yes. Commuting is the best. Never envy the rich for their cars. They are missing out on the many many fun experiences that you get everyday when riding the bus. From the mani vendor who calls you tisay, to the babies, to the tragi-comic-but-well-meaning preachers to the oldies to the loving couples to the power-nappers to the next fun adventure that waits for you every time you ride the bus. My advice, don’t keep these stories with you, share. why not start your own blog. we are not the only ones who love bus rides, and there are many out there who will love reading your bus ride adventures.

Like I said: yeah.

curiosity killed the cat:

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