Thursday, June 3, 2010

Three Hours and Fifty-Three Minutes

1:45 p.m. Along the road

It was not quite a fine day to go to Intramuros.  There was a sudden summer downpour, and it was payday Friday - a deadly combination.  True enough, the traffic was snarled within the side streets of New Manila.  Even worse was the stretch between the Legarda flyover and Recto. "I knew it," I muttered under my breath, "I should have braved Quezon Ave. and España instead."  But surprisingly, past Recto all the way to Taft, the road was relatively clear.  I arrived at Intramuros just in time to deliver the car to Popsy.

Now, of course, that meant I was now without a car.  That also meant I had to commute back home.

Not that I was finicky about taking the public transportation, but the thought of being squeezed in the rush hour LRT coaches was not a pleasant proposition.  I had to admit that the idea of taking a cab was very tempting.  On the other hand, it wasn't everyday that I found myself in that side of Manila.  It was the perfect chance to explore the area.  If I didn't do it now, the opportunity might never present itself again.

I chose to commute.

So off I went on the great Manila Commuting Adventure.

3:47 p.m. Location shoot in Intramuros

I bade goodbye to Popsy, his staff, and his ex-partner.  Glancing at my cell phone, I knew had time to walk from within the perimeter of walls to the City Hall across without having to run.  It was my second time to use that particular underpass.  This time though, I passed through in broad daylight.  It wasn't that bad as I thought would turn out to be.  There were vendors selling all kinds of stuff: from bangles, to pots and pans, to native merienda fare.  The pitchi-pitchi was enticing me to munch on it, but if I stopped and took time to eat, I might not be able to get on a coach at all.

3:57 p.m. Central Station

I made it in good time.  The line for the LRT ticket wasn't as long as I expected.  As I stood waiting on the platform, I could see there was a good sized crowd already. "No wonder there weren't any people in the ticket area. They're all here," I grumbled to myself.

The crowd gave a sudden lurch.  The train was approaching, and everyone was jostling for first crack at the door - me included.  At a little past 4 p.m., the coach was already filled to the brim.  Make that crammed to the brim.  Sardines in a can have more jostling space compared to this.  And contrary to the popular belief, an over-stuffed coach does not NOT present an erotic situation.  Attempting to find a bar to hang on to while checking one's own pockets every twenty seconds is not conducive to crotch-groping, ass-rubbing, and other shenanigans. With the pervasive stench of exquisite man-sweat filling the air, I focused instead on the juggling act I was pulling off.

4:20 p.m. Doroteo Jose Station

Never had fresh air felt so welcome!  A yosi break was also in order since I was still on schedule. I allowed myself a stick as I paced my walk along the connection bridge.  Towards my left, I could see there was a Muslim settlement.  The area has had better days - small houses  were bunched up together in blackish-gray surroundings.  It was like any other settlement save for the mosque. A stray thought crossed my mind: was this the place where the the dvds in the City Hall came from?

4:26 p.m. Recto Station

Rush hour was fast approaching.  The crowd of commuters was larger here.  The queue of the ticket dispenser was noticeably longer, too.  I took my place in the line.  It was slowly inching its way when it halted all of a sudden.  From where I was, I could see the reason why:  an old lady was fumbling with the machine up ahead.  After a few more minutes, the person behind her got impatient enough to help sort whatever problem there was.  

The little scene was all but forgotten when a personnel loudly hollered, "O doon po sa kabila, may mga ready na tickets na para sa Cubao at Santolan!"

I looked in front of me. Six people, now five.  Five people before I could get to the  machine.  Should I stay, or should go to the other line where the ready tickets were?  Should I let impatience get the better of me, or should I continue to be, quote-unquote, emotionally intelligent?


As if I even needed to ask.  I dashed as fast as I could to the other side of the hall.

Too late, though.  A whole herd of commuters also heard the barker.  It seemed that everyone heeded the call of instant gratification like I did.  The crowd here was even bigger.  Worse, I had to start at the very end of a very, very long line.

Crappity, crappity, crap, crap, crap.

They say reward awaits those who are patient.  And for being impatient, what I got was more queuing time, and the irresistible urge to kick myself in the butt.

4:45 p.m. Between the Legarda and Pureza Stations

I saw a woman enter the crowded coach at the Legarda station.  She was carrying a sleeping baby and balancing a heavy bag at the same time.

I gave up my comfortable seat without a second thought.

Yes, Virginia, chivalry still exists in my book.

5:38 p.m. In front of my desktop 

After a short jeepney ride from the LRT station to our main street, plus a little more walking, I was finally home.

It took there hours, fifty-three minutes, and a couple of seconds to travel back and forth. It was worth every moment, though. Because in the process, I got to experience again the small details a grizzled commuter would pass off as ordinary, even mundane.

The question is, would I do it all over again?

Not if I can help it.



  1. thanks for taking me along your journey of manila..
    i recall COLLEGE days when i take the LRT to vito cruz, and before i can alight that damn train, CRUMPLED LOOK na ang costume ko ahhaa :P

  2. sing with me: ♪♫ and it felt so good, I wanna do it again..♪♫

    some admirable traveler you are for that mum and baby. ;)

  3. The experience of a commuter inside Manila.


    sniff sniff.

  4. Soltero: you're most welCUM! ;)

    wait. did you go to THAT school in taft?!!

    *horrified gasp*

    Alter: i bow. chenkyu :D

    Guy: wak ka na sniff, sniff.

    lika dito, hug kita hihihihi

  5. i'm sure may ginawa kang kababalaghan sa loob ng masikip na tren! che!

  6. I asked my yaya to post a comment but she made shombag to me kasi it's not in her job description daw. I told her to make layas and take a lakad to edsa. chos.

  7. losing myself in the crowds of manila always makes me feel a little bit more filipino. :)

  8. John Stan: hoy, wag mo nga ako ihalintulad sa yo! wahahahaha

    Caridad: how mean gurhl naman you are to your yaya! lolz

  9. Drew: what would manila be without the noise and the crowds? ;)

  10. chivalry ka jan...

    sabihin mo lesbiana ka talaga hihihihi

  11. Yj: tumayo ako mula sa upuan, pero hindi ako tinayuan hahahahaa

  12. kunwari ang bait! hmp. HAHAHAHAHAH. i don't like commuting, i don't know how. haha

  13. I could get to your place and back to Intramuros in half the time you spent.

    Hindi ka lang talaga sanay mag-commute. Bwahahahaha!

  14. Arkin: how soshal naman you are! teehee

    Mugen: ang trapik kaya papunta! :P

  15. the hustle and bustle of manila!

  16. Coño: di ba nakaka-miss miss all the gulo and ingay whenever you stay out of the country for a long time? :D

  17. haha St Scho! bwahahhaa :P

  18. Soltero: eeeew you're a kulasa pala.

    i'm from woodrose kasi e. that's why i'm dalisay, busilak, and mayumi!


  19. Sorry dude, Povedan here.


    Just kidding.

    Woodrose is so ewww...

  20. Guy: whatever.

    you and your goldilocks uniform!



  21. Next time, bring your pumpkin caruaje.

    Just be sure to get home before midnight, Cindy.

  22. Ruddie: yes, maleficent, my lurve :D

  23. OMG i remembered my MRT/LRT experience... I stayed in Malate, from Robi braved myself and went to Fort... I liked it except it was too hot.. but it was a good experience

  24. Clipped: GOOD experiece? i'm shooooor! ahahahaha