This could either be filed under “greatest personal feats ever” or “most stupid decisions ever”.
Earlier tonight, I chose to walk almost all the way home on a rainy evening without an umbrella and with an envelope containing important documents tucked under my shirt, instead of waiting in line at terminals and spending hours in traffic.
That’s eight kilometers of pavement, five major roads, five Jollibee stop-overs (I’ll keep the reason to myself), almost three hours on sidewalks, no idea how many calories burned, and absolutely no idea of the effects when I wake up later in the morning.
Here’s a map of my route:
(Funny. I should have taken the C5 route. It’s half the distance of my route tonight, at only 3.8 kilometers. Shortest way is going straight, indeed. But nah, it’s kind of “dangerous” to walk along C5, especially at night: lights there are too few if not dim, and the sidewalks are narrow.)
Long story that I hope will be short for you: I was at Eastwood to get some important documents. Stayed ’til 8PM there to sit out the rain.
The commute from Eastwood is like being in the Mafia: it’s hard to get out from there. And what caused the C5 traffic along E. Rodriguez Avenue? Congestion at one particular U-turn slot and at the fly-over in front of Green Meadows Subdivision.
When I got to IPI along Ortigas Avenue, there were a few San Juan-Rosario jeepneys and a lot of commuters waiting at one corner. That’s when I decided to walk, despite the light rain. I’ll ride an FX at the SM Megamall terminal instead.
When I got there, I was appalled by the long line, and surprised by the low FX replenishment rate. Quickly, I decided, “I’ll ride the bus in EDSA instead.” Peering at both sides of EDSA from Shaw Boulevard, you could see all the red vehicle lights shining bright. You could also hear sirens. (I found out later on from Dad that there was a fire at Kalayaan Avenue in Makati.)
It’s a walk along EDSA, then, just like before. I’ll get some rest when I get to hop in a jeepney at the Guadalupe terminal.
This is the part where I single out the Guadalupe jeepney terminal. I thought I could get used to the commotion there, but tonight’s chaos was brutal. An added factor: the rain intensified. Twice, or even thrice.
Once the rain poured hard, those without umbrellas ran for cover under the terminal roof. Some (me included) broke away from the main queue and headed towards the terminal. Now we had a main queue that stood its ground, and a breakaway group that avoided the rain.
Then the Guadalupe-Pateros jeepneys started to arrive. The jeeps were not even parked properly yet, but both groups started hopping on the jeepneys. The main queue asserted their right to ride first; the breakaway group said, “f*ck it, it’s raining hard, and we want to go home already.” The barkers can only shout to remind everyone that there’s a main queue.
After about half an hour of hoping that this would soon pass, I gave up. The main queue was almost not moving, and they’re irate! That’s when I started to walk again.
The weird thing about all this: J.P. Rizal Avenue was almost empty from when I started to walk until I got to ride a jeep in Brgy. West Rembo, two kilometers away! There was virtually no traffic! Where were the other Guadalupe-Pateros jeepneys that should have serviced all the waiting passengers at the terminal?
This is the part where I calm my nerves and never mention the Guadalupe jeepney terminal again. Haha.
Why did I choose to walk tonight? Four things:
- Walking actually calms me down. Instead of thinking about long queues and the crazy traffic, I get to think about more important things: ideas I could suggest at work, ways to improve our commute in the Metro, opinions about anything under the sun, and my next Jollibee stop-over.
- It gives me an adrenaline rush. It pushes me to my limits. I have been through long walks before — either because in my past life I’m an old-school dude disdaining cars and trains or I’m just really that restless — but tonight was different. It was always a question of whether or not I can still continue. Do I hop on the next jeep or bus, or do I solder on?
- I love adventures, however unconventional it might be. Enough said.
- I personally can’t stand the traffic and the chaos. The rain lasted for only around six hours, but Metro Manila was congested as heck. Tunnels along EDSA were flooded. MRT trains are jampacked with annoyed commuters. The rain didn’t even cool down hot heads of passengers falling in line at jeepney terminals.
In hindsight, this three-hour walk served as my “protest” against the unruly behavior of most Filipinos. I had enough of complaining about our lack of discipline at MRT stations, jeepney terminals, and bus drop-off points. It’s like creative suggestions and strong sentiments do not matter anymore. Are we too “hard-headed” nowadays to think of new ways and too “onion-skinned” to accept criticisms? It’s crazy!
To borrow a line from a John Mayer song, I cannot wait for the world to change. So I chose to move, even if it was irrational, even if it was crazy, even if it will be bad for my health later on. It might not affect you or the nation overnight – maybe not at all – but this three-hour walk mattered to me.
It confirmed my theory that however we Filipinos want change, it wouldn’t happen if we always submit to the idea that there’s really nothing we could do about our nation’s ills. If you can’t stand something, why just stand there?
Also, I discovered a braver Mike and his new mettle. I could only thank the Lord (and the street smarts I’ve learned over the years) for keeping me safe.
P.S. My only regret? I should have dropped by the Rappler office along Julia Vargas Avenue to either borrow our big-ass umbrella or wait for the rain and the chaos to settle down. It rained hard when I got to Guadalupe.
Oops, I mentioned it again.