Well, it’s already mid-June, and that means that the new school year here in the Philippines is in full swing! We have three kids in school, and between the three kids, they attend two different schools. Jean, our daughter, is now in second year High School and she attends Davao Wisdom Academy, which is not too far from our house. Aaron, one of our sons, is also in second year High School and he attends Ateneo de Davao University, High School Campus, which is up to 30 minutes from the house if traffic is bad. Our youngest son, Jared, is in fourth grade and also attends Ateneo de Davao University, Elementary campus, which is in the same location as Ateneo de Davao High School Campus. All three of the kids started back to school this past Monday.
This school year, there is a big change for the kids, though. We will see how they handle it. In the past, our nephew, Deo, has always driven the kids to school. In the morning, he would drive all three kids to their respective schools, then he would go and pick them up in the afternoons. With the way traffic is around the campuses here, this would usually take Deo about two hours in the morning, and another two hours in the afternoon. So, basically, the majority of Deo’s day was spent shuffling the kids back and forth to school.
Over the summer, Feyma and I decided that the kids are going to change the way that they commute to school. Like many Filipino kids, our kids are now using the Jeepney system for their transportation to and from school. For the boys, they first ride the tricycle from the house to the place where they can catch a Jeepney, as the Jeepney routes do not pass in front of our house. After a 5 to 10 minute tricycle ride, the boys are at a location where they can hop on a Jeepney for another 5 to 10 minute ride to Ateneo campus.
For Jean, since her school is closer to the house, she will ride tricycle all the way to school, as no Jeepneys run the route from our house to the school campus. It’s really only a 5 to 10 minute ride from the house to the school anyway. Also, it’s not even that long of a walk, if she wants to just walk to school. I know that I could walk to Davao Wisdom Academy from our house in roughly 15 to 20 minutes or so.
So, why did Feyma and I decide to make this change? Well, we live in the Philippines, and we want our kids to become more accustomed to living the way that most people live here. Also, we want our kids to grow up a bit and gain a bit of independence. After they get used to riding the Jeepneys, they can basically go anywhere around town (with proper permission, of course). A lot of times, Aaron will want to go to an Internet Cafe with his school friends on the weekends. Before, he always had to get a ride, either from Deo, or from me. Now, if he wants to go with his friends, he can ride the Jeepney, just like most of his friends do. I remember when I was a kid, I would use the public buses to go to places where I wanted to go.
This is a big step for our kids, but we did not just dump them into it. Over the summer, they got some training on how to do this. First, their cousin, Glenda, who lives with us (she’s in her 20’s), took each of the kids individually on the Jeepney so that she could show them where to catch the Jeepney, how to pay, how to choose the right Jeepney, etc. The kids each got a number of practice runs with Glenda, and then just before school started, they rode the Jeepneys alone going to their school, and coming home. They did well, and are starting to feel comfortable riding the Jeepneys now.
I feel that this is a very important and big step for the kids. It will help them become more integrated in Philippine Society, and also help them mature a bit too. It kind of starts cutting the strings to their parents a bit, and gives them some independence.
I know that a number of readers will be critical on this, and will especially cry out that this is not safe. I do not believe that is the case. If I was worried about their safety, I would not let them go to school by themselves, but I do not feel this is a concern. My bigger concern is that they make sure to get on the right Jeepney that is actually going either to the school or to where they need to go to come home. But, they have had the proper training, and I don’t think that will be a problem. Worst case scenario is that they will need to call us, and they all have cellular phones so that they can call anytime, so it’s not a big concern. Many of you will say that we need to worry about kidnappings and such, but I just don’t feel that is a concern. We have lived here long enough that we feel comfortable with the safety situation. We are their parents, and we would never do anything that we felt jeopardized their safety, I can assure you of that.
So far so good. The first day of school, we did let our nephew do the driving, but since then, the kids have been using the Jeepneys and Tricycles to commute to and from school. All has worked smoothly, and I am sure it will continue! I must say, I am pretty proud of our kids in taking this big step toward maturing, and fitting in to Philippine society!