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HONORING MY MOTHER | Back to Commuter Culture

I will never forget early morning bus rides to the city of Perth long ago in Western Australia. My daily 6:30 Morley bus companions would always consist of people heading to the offices, dressed in dark-color suits (or black trench coats), and accentuated with white earphones and dark glasses. Considering the earliness of the hour, the general mood would be sober, as all would rather ride in silence, and be lost in one’s own worlds. Except for the white earphones, it always felt like I was in a bus filled with Mr. Smiths of the Matrix.

The same is true when you take the early air-conditioned L300s or shuttle buses to the Davao metro in the morning. For the local passengers, earphones are still standard fare, but here, the dark suits are gone, and replaced with a rich collection of uniforms of all colors. Silence still rules the early morning rides, as the majority of your fellow passengers, composed of mostly employees and students, all seem to ponder the same thing: the impending reality of office and school work ahead. The excitement of face-to-face might be there but still the somber morning mood prevails.

As the day progresses however, the composition and mood of the passengers change, and a merry mix of characters takes over. Compared to the predictable set of passengers in the early morn, the midday varieties are of the free-for-all type. Often, if one were really lucky, you might become a “captured” witness to a lively and animated discussion inside whatever you are riding in. That typical pinoy flavor is as usual, completely loose but never without laughter; and the keen participation of the other passengers serves as its common thread. Topics may range from political commentaries, personal problems, entertainment, sports and even medical procedures (would you believe?). Actually, anything under the sun is fair game. Of course, those who opt to be left out of this can always go back to using their earphones.

The truth is, public transports, as a natural venue where people can converge, has always been a platform for discourses and quite common anywhere in the country. Apparently, this proves that our penchant for discussions of any kind and commentaries, not to mention, small talk, is not only limited to the realm of social media. In fact, it precedes it. Every day, inside jeepneys, buses or taxis, one can observe that even the drivers can casually join in on any of the conversations.

We are a race that has been commonly regarded as friendly by other peoples, and the best way to see this in action is during the course of a ride to somewhere. For many of us, it is not the destination after all, but the journey.


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