I Can Ride Out Anything for I Survived a Manila Jeepney Ride
I always had to go through sorrows and despair that crept beyond the limits of my despair.
I had known the faces of humiliation, rejection, and fear like they were familiar foes.
So when the fierce Philippine typhoons keep me holed up idle in my place, I would often congratulate my battered reassuring self, “Darn, I pulled through life! Now I can stand anything. Bring it on fate! “
The unbelieving me begs an answer to the question, “Geez, how did you pull through the throbs?”
The believing me – ever present in my striving and straining colorful life – fights back and fires an answer the moment the question is posed, “There’s God. He gave me all the talents I’d ever need. There’s Dad. He showered me with so much love. Then, there are the Manila jeepney rides. They sharpened me into a Filipino street smart, born and raised in the hardy Philippines.”
Jeepneys from the Point of View of an Old Hand
To the novice and unassuming, a jeepney ride through the bowels of the Philippine capital Manila is a leisurely journey in a gaudy, festooned, public transport vehicle – a cheap way to get from Point A to Point B or just about anywhere through a tried-and-tested way that local Filipinos do.
To the seasoned – to which I readily classify my self – and forewarned, a jeepney ride in Manila or its neighboring cities in the National Capital Region is bigger than one’s typical commute in a public transport vehicle.
Riding a Manila jeepney or any jeepney in most of the cities in this Southeast Asian country is a game of life and death, chock-full of lessons that left me smartened up and earned me some of the many degrees in the School of Hard Knocks.
Lessons from Jeepney Rides
By riding the jeepney, I heaped nuggets of wisdom about living that no girl – no, not even a boy, I think – would ever learn in her air-conditioned, music-filled, tinted car.
One, I taught myself to develop acceptance.
Instead of engaging in an orgy of self-pity for riding in the midst of fellow jeepney passengers who could be pickpockets, hold-uppers, sex maniacs, the poverty-stricken, the deranged, and everyone in between, I learned to embrace diversity.
It is the unwillingness to see through other people that creates the ghastly narrow-minded person in us.
When we refuse to look at people, we do not understand how they became who they are, why they do the things they do, and what they can really do both good and bad.
By understanding people, we do not necessarily condone them nor become one of them.
Instead, we build up our social awareness, our capacity to sympathize with people from all walks of life, and our reflexes to respond to unpleasant incidences created by these same people.
Two, I learned to extend the boundaries of my tolerance.
Petty annoyances have little chances of bothering me now that I had ridden jeepneys for so many times in my life.
Displeasures from sitting in a jeepney side by side or across people with nasty body odors, worn-out shoes, and unkempt or washed-out clothes or those using foul language and displaying distasteful manners could not send bellyaches, headaches, or irritation to my system.
People look down on others because they are different and have had little interactions with them.
By mingling with people, we learn to relate with them, respect them, and in some instances even work with them.
Three, I learned to laugh, live, and slip in the elements of surprise and shock into my life.
When I can joke about my experiences of smelling fetidness, breathing in fumes, and bumping into strangers, strange, and not-so-strange when riding jeepneys, then nothing trifling can push me into hysteria.
When I can find a reason to feel sympathy after seeing fatal collisions of jeepneys steered by drunken or reckless drivers as well as people or animals ran over by jeepneys on breakneck speed, then I feel that I am human, somebody who seeks justice without becoming too consumed by distress.
Jeepney Ride - Worth the Price I Had to Pay
For all these things, I have neither pity for myself nor envy for people who have been spared the troubles of riding in jeepneys - the famous or infamous public vehicles in the Philippines.
For I have seen things that no person who always had the comforts of their own cars would ever see.
I have learned lessons that may be too difficult for them to grasp.
Only people who can truly see and understand can ever become brothers and sisters to the world.
I do not regret having to ride Manila jeepneys at so many points in my life.
Clearly, all these lessons in life I learned are all worth the small jeepney fares I had to pay.
Copyright © 2011 Kerlyn Bautista
All Rights Reserved
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