Buses and Trains… And Taxi!

travel

It’s been one of the constant things people ask me time and time again, “Why do you travel that way?” And then the usual follow up question which really is more of a statement than a question, “Isn’t that such a long way to go?” Some people can be really sincere sometimes, but what most people are really saying is ‘Isn’t that an awful waste of your time?’ Some people even give me a tone like I haven’t a clue what they’re talking about. Like I’ve not been traveling that way nearly all my life. Like I’m the only person in the entire archipelago traveling that way.

You see, I live in Bulacan. That’s located north of Metro Manila. Currently, I work in the City of Makati. That’s more than 15 kms away from Bulacan. My travel time should be just a little over an hour but Manila traffic is one of the worst in the world. During rush hours –  Manila reality – that’s between 6 in the morning to 9 in the evening, so that means my travel time would be 3-4hrs. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m incredibly grateful to God I work during the night.

Every time people ask me about it, I try my best to be polite. I’ve decided a long time ago, it’s better that way. Being rude can be very exhausting for me. I can be very sarcastic, but sarcasm for me is based on the type of people I deal with. You can’t be sarcastic with regular Filipinos. They tend to be very kind. They won’t get it. It can be funny the first few times but it can get old really fast too with my countrymen. Then again, there are those worthy of sarcasm. Hahaha!

So before I stray away from what I really wanted to say, I travel the way I do because I don’t want to miss anything this gift of life has to offer. And to share some of the things that made traveling Metro Manila a little bearable for me than most. Please understand I’m not really one of those people who made it my habit to complain. I do, however, speak my mind to make sure I understand things that aren’t quite clear to me. I’m writing NOT to make people feel I’m superior to them in any way and to demand that I am someone they should emulate. It is my hope that these blogs would be helpful.

When I travel the way I do, I see lots of things. I hear different kinds of sounds. I feel all sorts of things. I smell the most unbelievable scents there are. There’s always something interesting happening. It’s exciting! It thrills me.

Buses

I leave home past 9 o’clock in the evening. That means I catch the last train ride to work which leaves North Avenue station at 9:55pm. Most of the time, I have no problem. The only time I get a problem is when the van driver from Bulacan decides he’s going to drive forever. And I mean, like, for the rest of his life. To be fair, there are times too when EDSA decides to be very selfish. Those nights when it seems to want all the cars in the world stuck in it just because it wants them all there. When that happens, obviously, I miss the last train ride. So I take the bus.

Now, when it comes to buses in EDSA, you have to be really smart and picky. I would have less than an hour to get to work from Quezon City to the City of Makati. That means I have to go through four major cities in Metro Manila before reaching my destination. Did I mention less than an hour to get there?

That means I can’t just ride any bus. To make sure I don’t get stuck with annoying bus drivers who doesn’t seem to know how to do their job properly because they would rather stay in EDSA than bring people where they need to get to, you need decent bus drivers. And awesome conductors!

So this is for people who commute both daytime and night time. This is NOT for those who have their own cars. Unless,  you’d rather ditch your car and follow my instructions. Hehe.. Here are my recommendations when going on a commute in Manila along EDSA:

1. Take the Cher bus, Northbound or Southbound. This is my first choice and I highly recommend it. It’s painted green & yellow. It’s an air-conditioned bus. Awesome air conditioning, by the way. Safe to say, it’s a well-maintained bus. The bus drivers are highly qualified & effective. You have to be alert when you’re trying to catch this bus though. This bus is such a snob. If you’re not in the right place, because they’re law-abiding bus drivers,  you’ll lose your chance. If you don’t have a lot of time in your hand and want to be where you need to be, Cher is the best option for you.

2. Take buses that has “Pacita” in their signboard if you’re Southbound. These are provincial buses and are air-conditioned buses too. They travel well, fast & no rude conductors. These buses aren’t as snob as Cher, but they are really good with following the law too. Of course, don’t forget the MMDA bus codes as well. Very important if you don’t want to end up walking along EDSA.

3. Lastly, take ordinary provincial buses like Roval if you need a ride that’s faster than a speeding bullet. Hahaha! Provincial buses are really fast. Works for me because I like fast driving and I’m not one of those girls who care so much about their hair style. Just be mindful of people who will sit beside you. Beware of pickpockets especially during the night. But even so during the day.

Trains

If you’re like me, and thankfully it doesn’t happen very often, I enjoy it when I witness cat fights on trains. Hahaha! Here in the Philippines, there’s a special coach for women. And even though I don’t get to sit often, I like it better there. Actually, I usually give my seat away to other ladies. I feel like I sit at work long enough. So when I travel back home, I prefer standing.

But on a serious note, because I travel that way, I get to appreciate every bit of beauty. We, Filipinas, are really so beautiful. Incomparable. Incredibly beautiful inside and out. I’ve always felt like we are never the weird looking type. We’re very simple in our ways. But then maybe that’s just me.

I know that trains can be romantic according to popular belief. And I have my fair share of encounters with ‘romantic’ men, so to speak. But no matter how handsome a guy maybe, and no matter how the ladies around me faint because of what the handsome fellow did, I always get annoyed. Or try so hard not to laugh. I’m really bad when it  comes to that sort of thing. I’ve always believed that the only time I will find something romantic is if it’s done to me by the man I love.

Now, while there can be romances and beauty on a train, there can be loads of unbelievable, unbearable, unbeatable smells on it too. And that’s one of the funniest things ever. Always. It’s not something I look forward to but I’m always caught off guard when they make their presence known. You know how it can be sometimes on trains? Those times when you’re pretty much like sausages inside and then the person you’re next to breathes toxic fumes? They didn’t have to open their mouths. That can be a very devastating time. Life-threatening even. Just be careful with those. Avoid it by pressing in to the middle of the train where usually the air conditioning is best and there can be lots of space. For some reason, people want to stay by the train doors. Apparently, most people really would rather do things the hard way.

Taxi

Now, sometimes it can happen that the buses I need in just won’t show up. Obviously, because I’m picky. At that time, of course, the only other option is to take a cab. About cabs here in Metro Manila, just be careful. I had just one scary experience with a bad taxi driver. I made it my choice a long time ago, that would be the last. I’ve been hearing lots of really bad stories in the past, and I mean you can still hear them these days, and that people now have taken it as an everyday life experience. But there was one time, I wasn’t careful & mindful. I experienced something terrible, at least for me.

He was wearing eyeglasses on a rainy day. He started yelling at me after I asked him, and very sweetly if I may add, to take the flyover for us not to experience anymore delays because I don’t want to be late. It got me so scared, I couldn’t say anything. By the time, I got inside the Frontera Verde Compound, he was still yelling at me. I was so scared & angry, I threw my money at the passenger seat. And then went out of the cab but then he grabbed my hand and hurled insults at me and told me he won’t let me out of his cab. I started yelling for help. When he realised where he brought me, he finally let go. And hurriedly drove out of the compound. The experience heightened security in the area. At least, that’s what we were told when I was still working there.

So from that time on, I never rode a cab anymore unless it was a company cab. So because I don’t want anyone else to experience the same thing, here are my tips about taking the taxi here in Metro Manila:

1. Take a company cab.
A company cab has the name of the company at the top of the car. Make it a habit to take down the plate number of the cab which you should see inside the car and the name of the cab company. Equally important is the time you took the ride. The moment you get inside the car, send a text to your emergency numbers.

2. If you’re not in a hurry, don’t ride a cab which has the word “Taxi” at the top.I understand that’s pretty much all the taxi in Manila. But please keep in mind, it doesn’t matter how good looking the car is. If you’re not in a hurry, and you’re alone, my advice is not to take those. Not that it means, you will get into trouble. Drivers of cabs like that ask for extra charges and can be very rude. Not all cab drivers are bad though and not all would negotiate a fare on top of the flag down rate. But company cab drivers are careful, polite and won’t ask for an extra charge.

3. Speaking of charges, if you want cashless rides then go for Uber. There’s Grab taxi too. They still take cash but I’d still prefer company cabs. I’m not really a big believer of sleek, easy and “stylish” whatever or something new. I can be very suspicious sometimes. And not just because something came from America or is “imported” doesn’t mean I’ll be all over it too. That’s just me though.

Hopefully, these are helpful pieces of information to everybody. Especially, when you’re traveling night time, like me. Stay safe always. And be alert, people. Enjoy Manila!

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Love Advices

ImageNot many of my new friends know that I was a love guru. Hahaha!

Well, I headed the Youth Music Ministry of my previous church for more than five years. During that time, I can’t tell you how many love advices I’ve given to young people. I was a teenager when I was prayed for and asked to take over the post. 

But God is gracious. He made sure I had great trainers. And they were not just one or two people. There were lots of them. Many of them, I don’t even recall the names anymore. Some of them, I met for a brief moment in time but their impact in life was just quite significant. They certainly proved to me the adage that wisdom can be found in the most unlikely places. 

Now, love advices.

The first time I was prayed over as a worship leader, people prayed for that “special man” God had prepared for me. I was fifteen then. I found it weird that people prayed that kind of prayer for me when I was so young and was very decided I am never going to get married. What did I know? These were the pastors and ushers, usherettes at church. Old people. But now of course, I finally understand why they did that. It’s of great importance. It would be of great help for me. Thank God for their lives!

Was talking to a young lady this week about the issue she was having. It was about her lovelife. Of course, she will remain anonymous. But let me tell you her story.

She’s a daughter of a Pastor. She’s 23 years old. She’s very beautiful. A body of a supermodel, humble, tall and an Einsteinette. You get the picture. She heads the youth arm of the church, loves Jesus and is obedient to her parents.

And then at church also, she meets someone.

He is 5’4″ tall, chubby, dark, has a contorted face but he is also a young man deeply in love wih Jesus Christ and completely devoted to his family. You get the picture. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. Not really contorted. Just full of I don’t know what to call it. And the teeth, I have no words to describe them. So that’s me being truly fair & kind with my description. 

And you’ve guessed it right, they fell in love. 

Naturally, the girl’s parents didn’t approve. But the sad part is, it’s all because of his physical appearance. They couldn’t stand to see the guy near their beautiful daughter. They were torn apart. The guy was asked to find another church to go to. You can imagine how cruel people can be. And this is the 21st centuy, for crying out loud! Anyway, I’ve asked forgiveness from God for them. Seriously. 

The young lady then asked for my advice. Should she give him up? Or should she fight for him? 

My advice: Have you asked God these questions you’ve been asking me? Because His words are way better than mine. Did you both seek His will whether or not to be together? For us, Christians, it’s not a matter of fighting for someone. It’s a matter of fighting for the will of God. And what is His will? The Bible tells us all about it. It gives a great deal of detail of a partner He wants for us to choose. You know why He has put them in writing? It’s because He will not choose for us. But He gives us an idea of what a good partner is. And He hopes we will desire that kind of partner. 

Have you found those scriptures in the Bible yet? If you haven’t, I suggest since you’re asking for my opinion, find those Words of the Holy scriptures, continue to pray for each other and ask for God’s approval. Seek God’s will together in prayer. Of course, factors such as getting to know the person is important.  And other common things about relationships (Christian ways: state his intentions to pray for you, meet your family, etc.) and what you desire for a partner is taken into consideration by God. So you pray for each other. Because if you notice in the book of Song of songs, it won’t tell you that you’re partner should be tall, dark & handsome. Or that the lady should be as white as snow. In fact, the lady there complains about her color but the ‘young man’ didn’t mind. There’s no physical standard. That would be our choice. 

Sometimes, there are very clear indicators already. We just don’t recognise God’s seal of approval because we choose to listen to our own words instead of His. I mean, You both love the Lord, you both love and respet your families. You boh serve the Lord wholeheartedly, what’s your question again? 

If there’s one oher important thing we should be asking God, in my opinion, it’s this: Is this Your perfect time, Lord? 

He’s still finishing up school. She just graduated. Is he committed to praying for you alone or is he still considering other girls? Are you ready to spend time in prayer for this one man or are you still looking to find a better looking guy? If it’s him you want to marry, can he provide for you and the family while still finishing up school? If you’re going to be married already, are you ready to stay at home and care for the family? Or are you still desiring to have your own career? Is this the perfect time? 

For us, believers of God, it’s not about hoppin’ around, clowning around, sleeping around to find someone to spend the rest of your life with. You prepare yourself for marriage because it is His beautiful will for us to NOT be alone. 

In conclusion, these things that God puts us through, the man or woman we fall in love with, that He brings in our lives, I think and this is my very humble opinion because I’m no expert, in fact, I still have a lot of things to learn, He brings them – he or she – in our lives because He knows what we need. And He makes sure we get what we need. But He needed to check and recheck our hearts by asking us these two questions: Do you desire to follow My will, my son, my daughter? Do you desire to wait for My perfect time?