I warned my mom the other day that we won't fit inside the Tamaraw FX. It's New Year's eve and our lifelong tradition says that we should all go to Favorite Aunt's place and spend the Media Noche there. But the stubborn matriarch insisted that we will all fit inside the car. She even accused me of setting up a romantic date with someone on New Year's eve and that's the reason I don't want to join.
Come New Year's eve and after all the bags were accounted, it turned out that there is just enough space for six adults and two kids. I told my mom that nothing could change the fact that we are just too many, and it would be insane to tell the maid and the driver's assistant to squeeze themselves against the wall of luggage at the back of the car.
Defeated, my mom let me go my own way.
The jeep ride from my place in Santa Mesa to Edsa Crossing was uneventful. There were the rant tweets alongside the New Year greetings to friends on Twitter. Bipolar lang. When I arrived at the infamous crossing, my real journey began. I wasn't done yet with my grumbling when I saw the great mass of humanity converging along Edsa.
How will I get to my destination on time?
It didn't help that most of the south-bound buses will take the Skyway. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes, nothing going to Bicutan showed up. I was deeply alarmed that my seething temper will linger way past New Year. I don't want to spoil the jovial atmosphere, be seen with a foul mood, or go emo while everyone's having fun. I was told to eat ice cream to relax, others tweeted that I should chill.
Then came the bus.
It was dilapidated; a machine that's almost falling apart. It reminded me of that hell-spawn Pascual Liner and Saint Rose buses that ply along the congested highway. It was packed to the brim - of workers - rushing to get home. I climbed the stairs only to learn that the available space was at the door. One sharp swerve and I imagined myself getting thrown out of the bus and into the pavement, with crushed bones and flattened skin after being ran over by other vehicles.
But I have to reach Bicutan.
"Konting urong lang po sa gitna." The bus conductor repeated so often, he could have recorded and played it on a cassette tape to save his voice.
"Yung hindi po magkasya ang katawan sa next bus na lang po." I felt like a sardine, sending tweets inside the can.
Lucky for us, the bus was slow moving. But every time it stopped, more people pushed themselves to get in. Soon, there was no more space that the bus conductor had to order the doors closed. We were approaching the Magallanes flyover. We must brace ourselves for the bus' 160 kph soar across the expressway.
on second thought, being surrounded by laborers on a packed bus make u understand what others are going through. it makes you more emphatic.
— Mugen (@soul_jacker) December 31, 2012
kawawa naman yung mga nag iintay ng bus sa ayala mrt terminal at magallanes. doors closed, bicutan na bukas nito.
— Mugen (@soul_jacker) December 31, 2012
There was a change in the wind's direction. No longer furious at what I had to go through, looking at the weary passengers made me feel that my gripes were nothing compared to what these people had to endure - everyday - just to get home. All those squeezing and shoving; a sun soiled worker's body odor wafting under your nose, the snail-paced march of vehicles along Edsa, the mad rush to be at the dining table for tonight's feast. I made a good call to let my co-worker - who lives in Laguna - to work from home. I finally understood what she meant when she would have to fight limb to limb just to get on a bus.
The cool breeze and the gentle swerving of the bus as it cruises SLEx had blown away the bad vibes I was carrying in Edsa. Siguro sa awa sa mga pasahero, and my rubbing elbows with them changed my perspective. Sabi ko nga sa isang kaibigan sa Twitter, the people here have no idea that I was telling their everyday experience. It humbled me to a point that I have completely forgotten why I was mad in the first place.
The bus stopped a few feet away from the Bicutan overpass. As the passengers from Manila get out, more people pushed themselves to get in. I guess for these commuters, the bus conductors and the bus drivers, these scenes are part of their everyday commuting. But for me, who seldom use brute force - to have things my way - the little eye-opener was heaven's way of saying that I should be grateful - still - for the perks I get.
|A journey ends, as others begin. Each one reaches their destination, one way or another.|
It is often that I only see my defeats, especially during this year-end reflection. But when put alongside humanity's collective struggles, it turns out that life isn't really about me or my failures and victories. It is about my blending in with others that makes my time - here on the planet - that matters.
Cheers to the year ahead.
Happy New Year!