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My Filipino Bus Ride

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Ozamiz Ferry

Ozamiz Ferry

I have read many things about riding a Bus in The Philippines and always thought of trying it. On my visit of 2014 the opportunity came along. One of my friends from Iligan City, a licensed DepEd school teacher got a job in Ozamiz City which is across the bay from Iligan. I asked if I could see the place he was teaching and his new apartment in Ozamiz City. It would give me the opportunity to see another area of The Philippines as well as an opportunity to go on a bus.

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As this was going to take place on a holiday weekend ( All Saints / All Souls days ) I ” thought ” if we went in the middle of the long weekend we could avoid the rush. That thinking would work well in the USA but you have to keep in mind that you can not compare The Philippines with any other place in the world. My friend came to meet me in Iligan on a Friday evening. Saturday morning we went to the Iligan North Bus Terminal. It has been decades since I have taken a bus and I started looking for bus schedules. It seemed as though they did not exist. We had to go to a place named Mukas to catch a ferry that crossed the bay to Ozamiz City. We were told that ” maybe there would be another bus in an hour or two “. While we were inside the terminal I noticed some idle taxis outside and I asked my friend to ask how much it would cost for a taxi to Mukas while I waited inside and out of sight. The quotation was 2000 peso ( about $50 USD ) and I decided to buy some time and we took the cab.

I had an enjoyable 24 hour stay in Ozamiz City and stayed overnight at the Royal Garden Hotel which I can recommend for visitors and tourists.

Returning to the ferry dock at Mukas, the bus station is across the street from the dock. It appeared as though the holiday rush hour was upon us as I remember crowds waiting for busses everywhere. A bus pulled in going to Iligan but it was full and only stopped for a few moments. I discovered we would have to wait for another bus. I could see people pushing and shoving their way into busses headed in other directions and figured to get a seat this was the way it is done. I can push and shove my way through a crowd as good as anyone else but I try to be on my best behavior on my vacations in The Philippines. It was not long before another bus headed for Iligan came along and I ran as fast as I could hoping we would get seats. there seem to be two kinds of busses available, Air Con and Non Air Con. This one was Non Air Con so I thought this would be completely authentic !

Super-5The hour or so ride back to Iligan City was uneventful, no problems and since we were seated right behind the driver it provided me with a good view for sight seeing. We got off the bus at the Iligan South Bus Terminal which was another place I wanted to see since I have read about it many times.

It was after this experience I found out that there are no actual bus schedules for these busses. They wait until they are filled up before departure. In some ways it makes sense but I don’t think it would work well in the USA but after all, this is not the USA. I often remind myself, if I want to see the USA I can just stay home but trying to get a bus in The Philippines can sometimes be ” More Fun ” !

Posted in

BobNY

Bob in New York is a regular reader and participant on the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob has traveled to the Philippines many times already and primarily visits the Iligan and Cagayan de Oro areas. Bob is a big fan of Jollibee Corporation, and even owns stock in the company!

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Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
7 years ago

Bob (NY)
So true about the adventure, “One More” is the capacity of all busses and Jeepney’s, the bald tires make them faster and my all time favorite are the Mini-Busses with the wooden seats and the conductor who can fit 4 people in a seat built for 2. You are so right about the adventure…may it never end!

Bob New York
Bob New York
7 years ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Plenty of bald tires that is for sure Paul. That must make it easier to slide between vehicles for an instant conversion of a 2 lane road to a 4 lane.

queeniebee5
queeniebee5
7 years ago

Hi BobNY,

Glad you enjoyed your bus ride. One thing though, the holiday of All Saints/All Souls Day could be a rather hectic time to take a bus, as many people are heading to their hometowns during that time.
That was funny that you thought there was a schedule! At least the bus didn’t drive super fast to make up for time:)
More fun experiences for you in the Philippines:)
Queenie

Bob New York
Bob New York
7 years ago
Reply to  queeniebee5

Thanks for your comment Queenie. When I kept asking different people about a bus schedule and got blank stares back at me I thought it might have been a language translation loss. No wonder Mindanao Bob is always mentioning about learning the language here. LOL

Lenny
Lenny
7 years ago

When I took a bus from Liloan to Cebu it was a crazy nightmare speeding thru towns …. depending on a horn … passing on a curve…Never again

Bob New York
Bob New York
7 years ago
Reply to  Lenny

This is one of the reasons I had wanted to try a Filipino Bus Ride. I had heard it is comparable to a thrill ride at an amusement park. The one ride I took, the actual ride was somewhat normal. Everything else though was unpredictable. You can always expect the unexpected here in The Philippines but that adds to the adventure !

Ben
Ben
7 years ago

I took a bus to from Cebu city going thru CarCar to the ocean
I enjoyed every moment of it
My mothers Inlaw and pops are on a bus now to Tabuelan to put a hut in for electric on the house I’m building out there
Bus rides are great there !!!

Bob New York
Bob New York
7 years ago
Reply to  Ben

I am sure at one pint in time or another I will have another opportunity to use bus transportation here. I think the waiting for the bus to fill before departure would really test my paitence LOL. At least next time i will know not to look for a Bus Schedule.

Byron Watts
7 years ago

I really enjoyed my bus travels between Davao and Malaybalay/Valentia. It was just a little too cold in the AirCon bus and slightly warm in the non-AirCon return trip.

Can’t wait to do it all over again!!

Bob New York
Bob New York
7 years ago
Reply to  Byron Watts

Maybe next time I will get an air con bus. At the point I was at knowing it could be hours before another bus came along, I pushed and shoved my way into any bus that was going my way LOL. In a way it was kind of a fun challenge to get a seat.

PapaDuck
PapaDuck
7 years ago

I enjoy bus rides when they don’t overload them and money comes before safety.

Adam
Adam
7 years ago
Reply to  PapaDuck

Yep, money comes before safety. I have banned my wife from riding on any buses going to Cebu. Ceres, Jegans and so on are crazy. Buses are not meant to go around corners on two wheels when there are 60 people jammed inside and hanging out the doors! Anybody ever driven through Naga near Cebu? I drive through there on my way to Cebu quite often. Buses from Carcar driving at the speed of light will race up behind you and try to overtake on the wrong side of the road. Adventure is great but you couldnt pay me to… Read more »

Rusty Bowers
Rusty Bowers
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam

When people take busses do you say something when the driver drives to fast? Or do you just sit there? Most Filipinos just sit there quietly, right? It seems foreigners just sit and don’t ask/tell the driver to slow down. Then people say how horrible it is that there was/is an accident. I speak up and tell them to slow down. The Filipinos say quietly “Good for you.” Once someone said “That’s just the way it is here.” Well, no one should accept killings or, in this case, horrible death defying bus driving. That isn’t a custom just a horrible… Read more »

Adam
Adam
7 years ago
Reply to  Rusty Bowers

Problem is Rusty. Accidents are just accepted here. Google up “bus or van accidents in the Philippines” You will see some disgusting behaviour. People here seem to enjoy filming their own country people dying inside a wreck. 100 people will be around the accident scene and yet less than a handfull will actually be helping. The rest are flat out on their latest Samsung filming (even reaching into the vehicle) to get the best shot or angle of the injuries.
In many countries they would be arrested for failing to assist!

Rusty
Rusty
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam

I know your right Queenie.

Those people, in my opinion, who are able to accept cultural differences are able to adjust better to a new situation. However, accepting a bus companies careless disregard for human life isn’t something I, and I bet you, can accept. The bus companies obviously don’t care about the people.

The company is just thinking about making a profit. Just as the polluting companies
did in the States.

The disregard for human life should never be accepted.

Rusty

queeniebee5
queeniebee5
7 years ago
Reply to  Rusty

Hi Rusty and Adam, Presently I don’t think that there is any budget or staff of police that is assigned to policing vehicles out on the roadways. Every bus and public vehicle does post phone and text numbers for the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board, (LTFRB) for the public to personally report any driving that they find unacceptable. Not sure who reports or what happens next, but that is something that you could do. Also taking down the drivers ID and bus number and reporting him to the bus company involved might help. The one bus company that I… Read more »

MindanaoBob
7 years ago
Reply to  queeniebee5

Great answer, Queenie.

Bob New York
Bob New York
7 years ago
Reply to  PapaDuck

from the many bus accident articles I have read it appears that some bus lines have a poor safety record than others. The bus pic in this article of a ” Super 5 ” bus I believe is locally owned and operated by someone in Iligan City. I think the line with the red color busses has a majority of the problems.

If there is no bus schedule to contend with, why the rush ? Whenever the bus gets there, it gets there.

queeniebee5
queeniebee5
7 years ago

Well, It’s just the nature of the bus business here. Not to excuse them, but drivers are hired to drive fast and make as many trips back and forth from the city as possible. If their quotas are not met, they will be fired. Passengers are not always willing to pay even small fare increases, so the company counts on drivers and their conductors to fill as many seats as possible every trip. In fairness, based on their driving I think that their reflexes and skills are quite good, when you think of all the many buses on the road… Read more »

Adam
Adam
7 years ago
Reply to  queeniebee5

Wouldn’t it just be easier for the politicians and police to actually forget about corruption for 5 minutes and try to fix the problem.
Why wait for a spate of accidents when a policeman could easily just pull a bus over and inspect it. If it has bald tires, held together by rust and is very overcrowded then take it off the road straight away!
How hard can it be? These bus companies that have no regard for the safety of anybody will soon learn

queeniebee5
queeniebee5
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Hi Adam, Not trying to lecture anyone here, and I can sympathize and relate to yours and others’ frustration, but in a developing country with intense poverty, change comes slowly. The luxury of adequate safety is not yet in the equation here. I can say that believe it or not the bus situation has gotten better since the eighties when I rode buses back and forth from the far northern town that I lived in for two years. Buses are for the most part newer and better built and maintained. At one time drivers were allowed very little sleep as… Read more »

Bob New York
Bob New York
7 years ago
Reply to  queeniebee5

It is quite an education that is for sure. For the most part I am only a visitor here and will have the luxury of returning home after a few weeks. Many of the differences I find do make for a very interesting visit though and I chuckle to myself when I see or experience many things that I have previously read about right here on the ” LIP ” website.

Rusty
Rusty
7 years ago
Reply to  queeniebee5

Queenie,

If you had to get a blood test would you accept a hospital using “used” needles? Accepting something that isn’t right, bus speeding, is the same thing as allowing a hospital to use used needles.

Saying were not in Kansas anymore doesn’t excuse a wrong act. Saying “That’s the way it is” isn’t protecting those that won’t, or can’t, speak up.

The Mayor of Davao didn’t just take a position and say the other mayors didn’t stop the violence. He’s done something about crime, etc.

Ed
Ed
7 years ago

Unlike north of, and then south of the border in the “land of the (ostensibly) free”, where in our younger decades we’d chip the inch of ice off the windshield and door to hop into our way-expensive freezing late-model car at 6am to hit 140 km/hr straight off the on-ramp then grind to a careening halt on sheet ice in the blinding white-out, behind the 12 lanes of stop-and-stop traffic and watch the other 12 lanes enjoying the same (not) going the other way, well, this is a different and in many ways way better life here and now. Crank… Read more »

Adam
Adam
7 years ago
Reply to  Ed

All good until your overtired, irresponsible driver overtakes somebody on the wrong side of the road and crashes head on into a semi trailer!

Rusty
Rusty
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Adam,

Exactly. Life is too precious to allow someone/company to throw it away.

Rusty

Ed
Ed
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam

They tried to make that very hard for anything smaller than a fully loaded “semi” with the huge concrete highway dividers on the 401 and in general 400 series highways. Not impossible, odds likely about the same as having an airliner drop on you as you pass the airport, but fortunately very improbable. Otherwise it’s impossible to be on the “wrong side of the road” when that side of the divide only goes one way and it’s virtually impossible to get _on_ an _off_ramp. That of course presumes that some idiot doesn’t find a way to go down totally opposite… Read more »

Jay
Jay
7 years ago

Hi Bob New York, Statistically speaking you are slightly less likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in the Philippines than in the USA. This is of course a completely apples and oranges comparison because in the Philippines personal vehicle ownership is rare and in the USA it is almost universal. The Philippines seems to not have safety belts, car seats, air bags or any other safety equipment. On the negative side for the USA, speed kills! Drivers greatly overestimate their ability to handle their vehicles and do not anticipate hazards. There is a false sense of security… Read more »

Rusty Bowers
Rusty Bowers
7 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Jay,

We have a car in the Philippines. The car has seat belts, air bags, and all the other safety features that a car has in the States.

Rusty

Jay
Jay
7 years ago
Reply to  Rusty Bowers

Hi Rusty, I understand where you are coming from and agree with you. From what I have observed in my very limited experience the buses are traveling way faster than the other traffic. This great differential in speed combined with the size of the vehicle makes them a threat to others whether or not they are buckled up or have an airbag. The drivers should be better trained and the laws enforced better. My comment on lack of safety features was more of a general comment. I would estimate that over 95% of Filipinos do not own a car. They… Read more »

Rusty
Rusty
7 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Jay,

Your right. The b6ses do travel way to fast. Seems No One, except maybe the Davao mayor, seems to have the desire to make them follow the law.

Ed
Ed
7 years ago
Reply to  Jay

A couple of comments in reply …

I remember being apprehended and fleeced by the infamous MMDA in Malate, one block from being so stupid aszz to offer a free ride to get someone to her bus, I had to pay 500 on-the-spot because the *passenger* I foolishly assisted didn’t put on her seat belt fast enough. (I was wearing mine and was astounded when accused of the “not wearing seatbelt” ‘violation’). That was circa 2006.

I also remember it’s quite common for people to do 100KPH or more on the coastal highway between Cavite and Manila.

Rusty
Rusty
7 years ago
Reply to  Ed

Ed,

On Bohol if one goes 40 KPH they are going fast. However, when we were taking a van between Iloilo the driver was driving, at times, 100KPH. I told him several times to “Slow Down.” I said “If he wanted to kill himself that was up to him. But the passengers weren’t going to go with him.”

Rusty”

MindanaoBob
7 years ago
Reply to  Rusty

Wow, that shocks me, 40 KPH? When I had a car, I regularly drove 100 KPH or a bit more. 100 KPH is only about 65 MPH.

Rusty
Rusty
7 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Bob,

We are now used to going around 40KPH. After all the two lane roads where we live are smaller than in the States. Plus there are always people, or tricycles, that one must go around.

When we travel between 50-55 it seems we are going too fast. I can’t imagine traveling 100KPH where we live.

Rusty

MindanaoBob
7 years ago
Reply to  Rusty

I don’t know Rusty. We have some very good quality roads, perhaps that is the difference.

Rusty
Rusty
7 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Bob,

I’ve heard how much better Davao is than where we live on Bohol. So I’m sure your roads are much better, also.

We like, for now, the country lifestyle one has where we live on Bohol. Places like Davao are just more progressive.

Rusty

MindanaoBob
7 years ago
Reply to  Rusty

I have always enjoyed rural living, and we lived in the countryside in the USA, on acreage. Here, though, getting good infrastructure, especially good internet requires city living. Internet, in particular, is very important to me.

Rusty Bowers
Rusty Bowers
7 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Bob,

We lived on a farm, for awhile, in Michigan. Rural living certainly has isn’t advantages and disadvantages. We were only 30 miles form the Capitol but will probably never have cable TV/internet.

Yes, I can imagine internet is a must for you as you do so much. About a month ago we finally got LTE. Prior to that businesses, and homes that have been here for a long time, had internet service. Which is the way it should be. The rest of us used an internet stick or pocket Wi-Fi.

Rusty

Ed
Ed
7 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Jay, while I’ve never actually taken a bus all the way from Davao to Kidapawan, I’m not even sure that there are any jeepnies (unless you own one or charter one) to take you the whole way. The typical solution is the ‘comuter van’ and if you think a bus is scary then try the speeding careening van on for size. At a bus is *bigger* giving one a greater chance of survival. I think my next trek may well be by bus vrs van, other than that the van drops me where I need to go in Davao. Still,… Read more »

MindanaoBob
7 years ago
Reply to  Ed

There are jeepnies between Davao and Kidapawan, not nearly as many as there used to be, though.

Ed
Ed
7 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Thanks Bob, I’ll check that out next time I absolutely can’t avoid the trek to Davao for BI and then get back home. Alternatively, unless no choice, my take is better to stay close to home so that when the babies are crying because “mommy” thinks that another week gone is the same as a few hours to babies and toddlers, then at least “daddy” is here with them.

Bob New York
Bob New York
7 years ago

Hi Jay, Thanks for your comment. I enjoy every minute, well, almost , of my visits to The Philippines, particularly Iligan City in Northern Mindanao. I like to experience or at least have some kind of exposure to the many things I have read here on the ” LIP ” website going back to its beginning. Obviously this can not all be done in a single visit of several weeks or a month or two so I usually wait for an opportunity to present itself. What I am seeing more and more of here lately is motorcycle accidents. Saw one… Read more »

Rusty Bowers
Rusty Bowers
7 years ago
Reply to  Bob New York

BobNY,

A Filipino columnist/editor said Please don’t accept the crazy way people drive. The article went in to say Filipinos just know they can get away with breaking the law. They don’t realize they are putting loved ones, and others, in harms way.

So, it is not “Normal” as you said. Or something that should just be accepted. That is foolish.

Driving crazy is not the culture.

Adam
Adam
7 years ago
Reply to  Rusty Bowers

Problem is rusty there is no education. No driving tests. Have a tiny bit of money to give to a corrupt official and BINGO you have a licence! A motorbike injured a child near my house the other day. All we seen was the bike, pair of thongs and a pool of blood. What saddened me was when my mate dropped some kids off from school across the road. Instead of going down the laneway to their houses as normal, they crossed the road and pointed and LAUGHED at the thongs and blood! That’s the problem. Schools here are more… Read more »

Rusty Bowers
Rusty Bowers
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Adam,

The schools do have a lot of National hick up days don’t they. Yes, it’s sad that the bus companies can pay under the table and all is forgiven.

It’s is the same in other countries though. But not as blatant. Nothing will happen until someone important is killed/harmed.

Rusty

Rusty
Rusty
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam

I’m sure people read where, instead of just watching a driving video at the LTO office, they now will be required to take a driving test. Trouble is too many barrow a motorcycle and don’t have licenses.

I wonder how effective that test will be?

Rusty

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