The oldest joke I know about living here that even the Filipino will howl laughing at is; “What is the capacity of a Trike, Jeepney or a bus in the Philippines? The answer is always: “Isa Pa” or in English, one more. When you go home to where you grew up this joke will bomb unless they have been here.
My friends in Boston gasp in horror over these pictures they see on Facebook or swear they were photo shopped (Well the PAL picture was) but the rest are a daily sight for most of us who live here. But never in Tagaytay (Okay, okay that’s my last time to mention Tagaytay, I’ll swear to it)
On a trip to Palawan 20 years ago, heading across the Island to the Underground River in a hired van, I stopped and rode the roof of a Jeepney from one town to the next just to experience it. The view was spectacular and the folks up there with me were surprised to be sitting with a Kano. They thought I was crazy and laughed about it the entire 20 miles.
Where I’m from in Massachusetts you will pay a heavy fine for a passenger on the back of a truck. Or one person more than you have seatbelts for; I’m not saying they are bad rules but they would not work here on this Archipelagoes that we call home. I have never seen the police here stop anyone for doing it. Albeit I have noticed that the foreigner will be stopped for riding his motorbike without a helmet but not a Pinoy, we foreigners must be known to process soft heads.
That 90cc motorbike loaded with the family heading to town is the result of economics. Not all can afford a car, but with a steady job a citizen can make a down payment and get a loan for two years and own a new motorbike. (The interest rate would shock you) This is called; “The Peso down and the chase is on” finance plan. If you are looking to buy one go to your bank and ask about their yard full of “REPOPS” Great deals!
I’ve had a car for most of the 20 plus years I’ve lived her but have taken every form of transportation when I was here on ships. I still do use public transport, because taking a car into the city you spend most of the time trying to finding a parking space, and then worrying if the car will be dented when you return. A friend in Manila told me that to park a car there you must purchase a parked car, have it towed away and then pull your car into the empty space. (Someone might jump into the space if you’re too slow) I foolishly drove into Manila to go to the immigration office, circled for twenty minutes looking for a parking space. I saw a family driver cleaning the van, stopped and said; “I’ll give you PHP 300.00 for that parking spot. He had the van moving before I finished the sentence. When I came out he was doubled parked in front of my car. I smiled and waved goodbye as I drove away and he had some extra cash and his parking spot returned.
In 1996 my friend Charlie and I were sipping a few SMB’s in Olongapo City. He said lets go to the Barrio, out the door we flew to hire a Trike, where we discovered that due to Charlie’s girth two Trike’s would be needed. I heard Charlie tell his driver that there would be an extra PHP 100.00 if he got there first. I smiled and told my driver it would be PHP 150.00 if I won. Up the hill by the grave yard at the beginning of the Zig-Zag with the sidecars wheel leaving the ground on the turns I offered my driver PHP 200.00 extra if Charlie won the race. We never did that again.
I’ve been on public transportation all over the world, for ease of travel and no waiting time the Philippines has most places beat hands down. Just remember when the guy who loads the Jeepney’s at the market points at you and shouts; “Isa Pa”, he’s talking to you, so start climbing up to the Jeepney’s roof.