Monday, October 13, 2014

"Bus rides: Not More Fun in the Philippines"

"Bus rides: Not More Fun in the Philippines"
Virgilio F. De leon Jr. MD

One of my former officemates Rui posted on his status a couple of weeks ago:"Feeling ko nakabuntis ako sa bus kanina..."

Which I promptly responded to by saying:" We will know in a couple of months when someone starts looking for you in the office."

"Ganito ang feeling..."

Bus rides. Our only alternative when we do not want to feel like packed sardines in the MRT on our way to work. Only instead of feeling like packed sardines in a bigger space , a full bus feels like being packed sardines in a much smaller can.People who ride the bus everyday know that you normally could fill a bus aisle with two people facing each other or facing away from each other and still be able to stand comfortably. However this is never the case in rush hour morning traffic or rush hour evening traffic where the aisle seems to be one organism with hands and legs and bags and umbrellas sprouting from everywhere and hitting even those who are uncomfortably seated(or at least people sitting on the aisle side seats). I could only describe this as an uncontrollable ugly looking cancer that have nowhere else to go and so just becomes a big , fat mass that squats down horribly in the center of the bus.

Now imagine that in this full space , the conductor would routinely try to squeeze through to get the the end of the moving bus to collect fare from the passengers at the back most areas.I imagine the training that these bus conductors go through just so they could navigate this sea of humanity.The ladies get groped , the men get groped and some others who want to get groped , get groped albeit accidentally.I often see conductors smiling when they see a well endowed woman who will be standing in the aisle. I also see some other people smile because the bus is really crowded. Mga mandurokot ito. Just another part of the bus experience.Getting groped and your valuables stolen. 

Don't you just love it when you are barely able to stand and hold your place when you hear the bus conductor say,"Pasok po sa loob , maluwang pa po, pasok pa." And you look at the people who are literally breathing on your neck and face and you ask yourself the insane question, "Nasaan ang space na yan? Nasaan dito ang maluwang?" And yet more people are crammed into this limited space that is loosely defined as maluwang.It reminds me of the game Tetris , where pieces are piled on top each other , the blocks conforming to each other to form a solid mass , my brother Aj who takes the bus every day describes it as being like a Transformer. Every time he is pushed into one corner and some person is about to be piled on him he silently says , "Autobots , transform" and voila they seem to be like one block. 

Now as an additional nightmare , imagine yourself , a passenger who had the misfortune of sitting at the back end of the bus and need to get down at the next stop. There was an online meme saying this about the MRT: "Papasok kang Estudyante , Lalabas kang Mandirigma". In a bus this is multiplied 3 fold because of the following reasons.

1)There are more bodies per square inch in that narrow aisle that you need to pass through, 2) the amount of force that they will return to you when you try to pass is much stronger and so you need to push harder and 3) the space you need to traverse is much longer than what you would need to pass through on a normal MRT/LRT carriage. So sa bus pag labas mo 3x ka nang Mandirigma! At kung nakakabuntis ang pawis mo 3x ka na din nakasaboy ng punla!

Oh Bus rides , definitely not more fun in the Philippines.

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