22 May 2010

Fatalism Filipino-Style

Yesterday, I went to town to do some errands. I had to pay my visa application fee, so I had to go to a bank, and I had to take photos, and I had to do some shopping, so those were the things that were on my agenda.

I decided to go to my old university in the morning, so I took the bus to get there. It never fails to amaze me how I did it for 3 and a half years: it takes 4 rides to get from the house to campus, and that was just one way. First, I take a tricycle: this is a small motorcycle that has a passenger seat, and functions as a cab within the neighborhood. It currently costs 7.00 PHP. Then I take a long-distance bus from the neighborhood terminal up to Metro Manila: this costs 55.00 PHP. Then I transfer to a light-rail transit and travel for 8 stations: this costs 14.00 PHP. Finally, I get in a jeepney, and it takes me all the way into the campus, which costs 10.00 PHP. All in all, this one-way trip, which takes about 2 hours (if the traffic jam is bad), costs 86.00 PHP, or a little less than 2.00 USD. Not bad.

While traveling, I realized that I missed some of these things. I missed the stench of the diesel fuel that public buses use, I miss the crazy chaotic driving that everyone seems to be doing, and I missed the heat. Yes, it is convenient living in Buffalo, but doing this whole routine again makes one realize how sterilized and convenient things are in the USA. It makes you realize that you shouldn't take it for granted, because there are plenty of people here who don't have the privilege of experiencing that. It sounds funny when I encounter people complaining about the traffic in the I-90 thruway during rush hour in Buffalo. Boy, that is not traffic at all. That's a breeze.

I suppose the most important thing one needs here in the Philippines is a dose of Filipino-style fatalism and a pinch of patience. And lots of water to shower.

(National Capitol, from my Bogotá, Colombia Series)


  1. You used to commute for two hours to go to university? Wow.

    I know what you mean, I sometimes think everything is too safe, too secure and too risk-free in Canada as well. I like chaos. A little bit of it.

  2. I didn't know you commute that long to go to school - and for three and a half years at that!
    But kudos to Pinoys who go through these hassles all day, they still do smile, don't they?

  3. Zhu and TNP,

    Yeah, I did commute to go to university. Where we live wasn't far enough to make staying in a dorm more economical. I preferred having my own bed to sleep on at the end of the day. But yeah, I would think twice if ever I had to do that again.