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:
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