Postcard Friendship Friday
(Postcard: Iloilo City Retro Card 1967-- showing the funky jeepneys of the Philippines which reminds me of a conversation I had more that a year ago)
*Towards the end of a lunch date with (privileged) friends*
Mary: "How are you guys going to get home? You can ride with me."
Me: "Uhm, no we'll be fine. We can take a jeepney ride."
Mary: (blank face) "Are you serious?"
Me: "What? Yes I am."
Mary: "uhh. ok... you're not scared?"
Me: "Why should I? Wait, don't tell me you've never ridden a jeep."
Me: "You poor poor girl. I should totally take you on a field trip around the REAL Manila"
Mary: " Woah! Take it slow, I just had my first ever taxi ride last week." (she was serious)
Me: "Darling, I cannot wait to take you to Quiapo." (Haha)
Until now I still cannot believe I had that conversation with one of my college friends (not her real name ;) ). It drives me to tears (lol!) I do firmly believe that you are not truly Pinoy until you ride a Jeep-- or the MRT, or a 'padyak/tricycle'. But I digress, right now it's mainly about the "Dyip" (jeep).
The (in)famous jeep is Manila's main mode of public transportation-- but it is not for the weak. It is unlike a cab-- you cannot tell the driver to take you to just any place you need to go. It only passes through it's designated route, like a bus-- but feistier. Petty crimes like theft and hold-ups are common. Drivers constantly break the road rules, and the smoke...don't get me started on the smoke and pollution.
Still, I've had so many interesting jeepney rides-- with drunken men in the middle of the night, with fighting lovers, angry people, silly people, preachers, crazy fun friends, very attractive guys...
Right now, let me impart my wisdom and give you some Jeepney riding tips:
1) Read before you Ride. Be sure you take the right jeep. The moment you decide to accept the challenge and you raise your arm to hail one, several different jeepneys with completely different routes might stop in front of you. Jumping on the wrong one will most likely get you completely lost and hopeless.
2.) Pass that Bayad. Always always remember to pay your fare (out of common decency and more importantly, to save yourself from a possible confrontation with the driver).
Paying for a jeepney fare is an ART. This automobile has the passengers sitting in two rows that face each other-- parallel to the road (err, I hope that's not as confusing). One way or another, the money must reach the driver without you standing up (you simply can't). The uniquely filipino 'pass the bayad' is the answer to your dilemma. This honesty system will have you handing your money to a total stranger and asking him/her to pass it on to the next stranger until it reaches the driver. If the driver needs to give you your change, the whole process happens again until you get it.
After paying, thank your fellow passengers, and be ready to do the same favor to anyone who sits farther away from the driver than you.
3.) The Big Squeeze. Be ready to get squeezed in your seat. Sometimes the passenger capacity will me maxed out and you have to let go of any sense of personal space-- there is simply no place for that anymore. Several times I had to endure a couple of miles with just a quarter of my butt on the seat.
4.) Call Farrah. To tell the driver to stop, say "PARA!!"-- no, shout it. Sometimes there will be a loud (hiphop) music on the stereo so you might need to knock on the jeep ceiling to get your message across. Some jeepneys (the cool ones) have a "buzzer" installed. See if there's a string in the middle of the ceiling coupled with a sign that says "pull d' string 2 stop" or "hila mo, hinto ko" (pull it, i stop it--or something like that)
5.) Beware of the Friendlies. Make sure you don't leave anything before you get off. Slashers and pickpocket thieves are not unusual.
6.) Take a lot of happy pills. Most days you'll need them to keep your head from exploding. Feel the wind (err, the smog) in your hair and just enjoy the ride.
And there you go, Jeepney101
I LOVE BEING PINOY!