OK, it’s time for my third installment in my Acculturation series here on LiP. I hope you are enjoying my articles in this series so far, and I still have a number of articles to go before I can fully explain how I have come very close to completing my acculturation in the Philippines. I suppose that the truth is that an immigrant’s acculturation is never complete, but I am very close, and will only have minor issues to deal with for the rest of my life, I suppose. As I mentioned in my first article in the series, though, there are some areas where I have chosen not to adapt to the local culture, and those will be addressed in a future article, probably the last article in this series.
Today, I am going to address the area of the culture that I really only started adapting recently, and that is transportation.
When we first moved to the Philippines, I could not wait to buy a car, or some kind of vehicle so that I could get around. Within the first 2 weeks of living here, even before our container containing our possessions had arrived, we bought a Mitsubishi Adventure, which is an AUV, or an Asian Utility Vehicle. An AUV is like an SUV, but a bit smaller. We bought about the top of the line that Mitsubishi was offering at the time, and the cost back then was about US$15,000 at that time. Prices on such vehicles are a lot higher now, though. I really have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of our Adventure, and in fact, I have gone on many Adventures using the Mitsubishi Adventure, I can assure you of that!
Over the years, though, I must say that I have driven less and less, to the point that these days, I drive very little. Probably once per week on average, I will take the AUV out for a spin around town, but sometimes I don’t even make it out in the car. I still go out on a regular basis, I just don’t drive!
What do you do, Bob, take the taxi?
No, actually, I only use the taxi on very rare occasions to be honest. Read forward and I’ll tell you what I do for transportation!
Riding the Bus in the Philippines
Starting a few years ago, in 2008 or 2009, I started riding the bus if I was taking a long trip (unless it was a very long trip, in which case I would fly). But, for going around Mindanao, I like to ride the bus. I got started riding the bus because I didn’t feel like driving, and thought I’d just take the bus on that one trip, but I liked it, and decided to use the bus more often. As I write this, tomorrow I am going to General Santos City for some business I need to take care of. No question, I’m riding the bus!
There are some very nice buses here too, very modern. Most of the buses have video on them too, and play movies and such. To be honest, I don’t pay much attention to the movies, though, they are usually Tagalog movies anyway, so it is of no interest to me. I like to bring along my MP3 player and just listen to music and “rest my eyes” if you know what I mean!
Riding the Jeepney in the Philippines
For local transportation, I started a new routine about 6 months ago. I ride the jeepney! It all started out because one day I didn’t have anything to do, and decided to go jump on a jeepney and just see where it went. I didn’t really know the routes or anything, I just did it all by chance. I enjoyed it, to be honest, and I felt like a cultural learning experience. I like to ride the jeepneys now as much as possible, too. I know all of the routes, which jeepneys I need to ride to get where I am going, etc. I used to feel embarrassed to get on the jeepney, what would the local people think? Now, though, I feel like I fit right in. Nobody laughs or is overly shocked. Oh, from time to time I will see one or two people who are surprised to see a foreigner on a jeepney, but that just adds to the fun.
I used to consider jeepneys to be a poor transportation system, an inconvenience for “real drivers” with cars, etc. Now, though, I don’t feel that way at all. In fact, I think that jeepneys are a pretty good transport system. My only complaint is that a lot of jeepneys really do pollute the air, and I do wish they would clean that up. But, I find the jeepney system to be easy to use, cheap, convenient, and also a pretty darn efficient system for transporting thousands of riders day after day.
When I ride the jeepney, I like the “people watching” aspect of it. I like to just observe what people do on the jeepney, how the act, interaction among riders and such. It’s pretty fascinating to me! One thing I notice is that most local people tend to keep to themselves when they are on the jeepney. I like to talk to the other passengers, strike up a conversation, etc. It adds to the fun for me! It’s also a good chance for me to practice speaking Cebuano and learn even more!
Speaking of riding the jeepney being cheper than driving or taking a taxi, the fare for a normal length ride on the jeepney is P8. For a further ride it might be up to P12 or so, but 99% of the time you will pay P8. Now, consider that just the flag down rate for a taxi is P40 now. That means that you can ride 5 different jeepney rides for just the flag down rate on a taxi. For example, if I go from my house to Abreeza Mall in Davao City, that will usually cost nearly P150 on a taxi. On a jeepney, the total cost would be P16! Amazing difference, huh? I certainly don’t ride jeepney because of the financial reasons, though, I’m just adding that here as an added bonus. The reason I ride the jeepneys is because I enjoy it!
Another reason why I like to ride the jeepney is because it also means that I get to walk a fair amount. I like to walk for exercise, and if I ride the jeep, it usually means that I have to do a bit of walking to get to the proper place where the jeepneys are. For example, Jeepneys don’t run in front of our house, I have to walk about a half mile to catch the jeepney, then of course a half mile when I come home too. Also, there is usually some extra walking involved in the City too. Because of this, I feel healthier, and am in better shape than if I was driving. I consider that to be a real bonus.
You know, I can’t say for sure, but if I knew back in 2000 what I know now, maybe I would not have even purchased a vehicle of my own. I do admit, though, that I got a lot of good use out of that Mitsubishi Adventure, and it carried me to a lot of cool places. That vehicle has been to nearly every part of Mindanao now, and it’s never let me down! Not bad for a vehicle that is now 12 years old!