Bus Memories

Photo taken from the web.

It took me to reach my 30s before I finally dared to admit that I have a severe case of biyahilo (motion sickness). They say that Asians are more prone to motion sickness than the other races. My earliest memory of experiencing motion sickness was when I was five years old. It was a long queue of passengers at the Pantranco Station in San Jose, Balanga, Bataan. I probably fell asleep while on our way to our destination so I didn’t feel the motion sickness. But on our way back home, no amount of guava leaves and White Flower oil could ease the motion sickness. My grandmother said that the motion sickness would disappear once I grow older. In between five to eleven years old, I avoided riding on a bus. My jeepney and car rides were equally nauseating but those were short trips as compared to a bus ride. Therefore, my recovery time was also shorter. Because of this limitation, I was never a well-traveled child.

I was in Grade 6 when Ma’am de Dios announced that the top 15 students of the class were invited for an educational trip to Clark Air Base, Pampanga. Of course, I was very excited and forgot about my motion sickness. To boost my confidence, my grandmother gave me some pocket money for the trip. We were traversing the Roman Highway when I felt a little sick. Ma’am de Dios noticed my pale face and commented that I was probably imagining my motion sickness. She knew about my condition because I backed out of a choir competition the year before. The stop-over in San Fernando, Pampanga allowed me to wash my face in the restroom before going back to our bus. While waiting for the coach captain, I told Donna that I was not feeling well. Worried, she asked our classmates if there was anybody who could lend me a face towel. Maybelle did not only lent her face towel to me; she was also the one busy wiping my forehead with the wet face towel. I took a piece of Bonamine tablet and hoped that it would end my misery. It did. The Clark Educational Trip was one of my memorable trips in Grade School. I wouldn’t make it without the help of Donna and Maybelle.

I survived my bus rides in college with the help of total strangers. Those were the days when nobody ever thought that travel time could be reduced to 4 hours when you use the SCTEX-TPLEX-Pozzorubio Exit going to Baguio. Those were the days of lahar and floodings due to the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991. A seatmate asked why I looked pale and I told him that it has been hours since my last meal. At first, he thought that I had no enough money to buy food and drinks. Then I told him that I don’t eat when traveling to lessen my motion sickness. During our stop-over in La Union, he gave me something to eat and drink. Maybe out of appreciation, my motion sickness stopped.

As I grew older, I learned that the trick to not having motion sickness is to take a Bonamine tablet on an empty stomach an hour before traveling. This level of security helped me get through my job interviews in Manila. One time, I got an interview invitation to Kraft-Paranaque. I prepared to wear my black blazer, white blouse, black slacks, black shoes, and some pieces of jewelry. It was obvious that I was a job applicant. My seatmate smiled at me and guessed it right. Her phone rang, answered it and both of us laughed.

“Did you understand what I said to him?” she asked.

“Only that part,” I answered.

“I’m an entertainer in Japan. He is my boyfriend,” she said.

She told me a little story about her vacation and how her Japanese boyfriend kept on checking on her. I told her about my job hunting and she replied with a worried look on her face.

“Why don’t you keep your earrings and necklace for the meantime? Then just wear it back once you reached Kraft.”

She had a genuine concern about how I looked so vulnerable in the city. As soon as she unboarded in Cubao, I removed my earrings and necklace. The passenger behind her sat beside me and asked me if I was going to an interview. I confirmed and asked him if he knew of a jeepney ride from Pasay to Paranaque. He said that he was also from the province so he had no idea about it. He asked for my cellphone number and I gave it to him. He unboarded the bus in EDSA-Mandaluyong while I went straight to Victory-Pasay. After realizing that it was not the right time to explore, I took a taxi to get to Kraft. The seatmate who unboarded in EDSA-Mandaluyong called me up to ask if I was okay.

I was on my way home in April 2007 when my seatmate had to courage to ask me if I was visiting Bataan or going home. I was not in the right mood to be friendly so I just said “whichever.” We were stuck in traffic in Guagua and maybe most of the passengers were either bored or pissed off so I finally warmed up to him. I gave him half-truths of the details that he asked about me. Later on, he asked for my cellphone number. I gave him an imaginary number that he found out right away when my cellphone failed to receive his call.

“Magtiwala ka lang. Alagad ako ng batas,” (Trust me. I’m a law enforcer) he said.

“Ikaw ang wag magtiwala sa akin. Terorista ako” (Don’t trust me. I’m a terrorist) I said.

We became text mates after that. He said that I probably gave him a false name and false address because he looked around for me and nobody knew the name that I gave him. One time, I was on my way to San Fernando, Pampanga when the bus stopped in Hermosa, Bataan for an army checkpoint. If I remember it right, those were the times when the reds were active and even burned down a Bataan Transit bus a week earlier. An army soldier went inside the bus and I heard that familiar voice. Because I was just three rows away, he quickly saw me and went near to where I was seated.

“Ingat ka, Ms. Kung Sino Ka Man,”(Take care, Ms. Whoever) he said.

Aside from nice seatmates, I was blessed to have encountered nice bus conductors. After graduation, my first job was in a company in Subic Bay Freeport Zone. Mang Basalio, the bus conductor, knew that I was already employed yet he always charged me with student fare. When I moved to my second company, I tried to look for him but he was not always around. With my second company, bus riding became challenging because I had to be wary of hold-uppers in the Bonifacio area. The bus conductor never failed to reserve a seat for me.

Chaos and greed are everywhere but kindness still prevails in the hearts of many.


She was my BFF from 2007 to 2009. She was like my younger sister. She was sweet but

could be bothersome at times. We became close after our boyfriends dumped us. Misery

loves company–well, that’s true on our case.

We would dine out every night except during weekends.

We would go to the mall; me for a much-needed facial while she, window-shopping.

We would talk about boys, both admirers and those that we did not like.

She would push me to be in a relationship with a guy that she felt was right for me then

I would scold her for being too comfortable with a common friend who was committed to

another girl.

We would cry over our heartaches; well, she had a harder time moving on so she

shed more tears than I. But just the same, feeling her pain was enough to reduce me

to tears.

We had a company outing at the beach and both of us rocked in our own way.

I miss you, Princess and all the crazy things that we did.



The Good In Good-bye

When I was younger, I used to get hurt over people leaving me. Good-bye was something that I hated. The pain was too much for me to handle. I felt useless.

Somebody from grade school asked me if we could be friends then. I gave her my best but unfortunately, she thought that the friendship was a mismatch. She wrote me a letter to tell me that the friendship was over. I did not cry; I just accepted that maybe, we were really a mismatch.

Two decades later, the friendship was rekindled and I thought that being adults, we could establish a deeper level of friendship this time. I had the best times of my life in her company. Then we got busy with our personal lives and never resumed the friendship. In my heart, I knew it was her second good-bye. I was very hurt the second time she turned her back on me.

She was not the first to say good-bye to me. Include my ex-boyfriend and the people who I thought considered me as part of their life. I was very emotional before about good-byes.

Now that I’m older, I realize that there is actually good in good-bye. If two people can’t connect with each other and only one is willing to compromise, it’s better to say good-bye. Somebody much deserving will be given to replace them.

The good in good-bye is accepting that there’s  nothing we can do to make a person stay and those who stayed deserve our love and loyalty. Don’t cry over those who left. Rejoice over those who stayed.

Happy Birthday, Friend!

Tomorrow is your 34th birthday and I decided to greet you in advance. My domestic life is taking much of my time and I might forget your special day. Now that we’re both older but wiser, I wish that we could bring back the happy times that we spent during our high school years. You were my bestfriend and I secretly envied your charmed life. While my family was financially struggling during those years, you led a comfortable life in the corners of your beautiful home, surrounded by a loving family and supported by a group of loyal friends. I was afraid to share with you my insecurities about life; afraid that you might not understand where I was coming from. We graduated in high school with a heavy heart, we continued our communication through snail mails. I was very proud of you as my bestfriend.

The unexpected thing happened when I got pregnant in the middle of college. I wanted to die then. I was in deep regret and shame for what I did and it left a permanent scar in my heart. I wanted to tell you how I was feeling, how I wanted to end my life and how guilty I was for failing my parents. But I realized that you were that girl who led a charmed life. How could someone as nearly perfect as you understand someone as imperfect as me? But the news reached you and you immediately sent me a greeting card. You were hurt and you felt betrayed. You thought I did not trust you enough. I tried to explain that I wanted to tell you my situation in person. I didn’t know if you believed that alibi. I made up by getting you as one of Chang’s godparents. Again, we were able to save the friendship.

I went back to Baguio with a heavy heart, the baby was left in my parents’ care. It was the toughest decision in my life: proceed with my studies and face the insults OR stay back home and take another course. My mother told me that she preferred the first option and I obliged. I had plans of taking Chang with me and leave her in her father’s care while I can visit her everyday. But that option was not taken seriously by her father’s side. When I decided to end that relationship three years later, I decided not to tell that to you. How can someone with high morals like you understand someone who’s not moral (at that time) like me?

I got involved with another man, got into a problem and that was the time when I decided to ask for your help. You were shocked, confused but nevertheless, treated me with kindness and understanding. I was so ashamed of you then. I wanted to see you personally to tell the whole story but I had no guts to do so. I let that problem pass and pretended for the next five years that this relationship was worth fighting for.

We had a mini-reunion in 2004 and that was very memorable for me. There I was, sitting side by side with the bestfriend that I underestimated. I tried to bring back the warmth of our friendship but I could feel that it was too late. We had been through a lot of misunderstandings and the damage could be irreparable.

Let me just tell you that I am very sorry for the things that I did in the past. I underestimated our friendship and I was the one paying for it now.

Happy birthday!

It’s More Than a Phone

I am guilty of not being too careful of my late mother’s cellphone. I’ve been using her cellphone since she passed away last May 2, 2009. When I saw her new cellphone in 2008, I fell in love with it. It was a white Nokia 6120C, very slim and very light. It’s a smartphone, too. I tried to apply for a postpaid phone in Smart Wireless in Balanga but my application was denied. According to them, my record showed that my salary was not enough to meet the minimum salary requirements to avail of their postpaid promo. They were referring to my old ITR in 2006 wherein I had two ITR’s: one from my previous employer and the other one from my current employer. I told them that I could request for my 2007 ITR and I could provide my three latest payslips. They seemed unconvince so I did not pursue my application.

After my mother died, I became the owner of her cellphone. It was the cellphone that she used to call me and text me when she was alive. Her cellphone contained all her contacts who became my textmates after she died. I realize how blessed is she for having good friends around her. She was surrounded by several friends while I have yet to develop longlasting friendships from my current pool of friends.

When I woke up last Sunday (July 18) at around 12 midnight and saw that my cellphone was off, I had the instinct that the frequent droppings lead to its hardware damage. I couldn’t sleep that night; I felt so guilty for being too lax in taking care of it.

Monday afternoon, I brought it to a cellphone repair shop and after several attempts to reheat the components, the technician suggested to change the power IC. He was asking PhP1,500 for it. I knew that he was overcharging but I was willing to pay a high price for a phone that contained my mother’s contacts. And too bad, I didn’t save her contacts on my computer!

Tuesday afternoon, the technician texted that despite changing the power IC, the phone would not power on. My husband and I decided to bring it to his friend for a second attempt to revive the unit.

Jimmy could not promise to repair it but he said he would try his best. I was depressed but later on, was trying to accept that there’s a big possibility that it would never be repaired. I lost Mom’s contacts. I hope some of them will find a way to contact me through my existing number. After all, real friendship is supposed to be longlasting.