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HONORING MY MOTHER | When stationary means a lot

During the Christmas break, I had to cut my visit to my matey’s relatives short because of a scheduled year-end gig and went home ahead of my fam. T’was exactly two days after Christmas and I thought getting a bus for home was going to be smooth; with less passengers waiting at the terminal so indeed, I was already imagining a relaxed return trip. Wrong. When I arrived at the bus stop near our home in General Santos, there already was a horde of people waiting and standing in the noonday sun. After just a few minutes, a bus bound for Davao came into view. Trailed by a group of about twenty people who wanted to be the first aboard, it slowly snaked its way past the tricycles hugging the road until it braked to a stop.

As luck would have it, the bus stopped and opened its door right in front where I stood. As the door slid open with a whiff of cold air from the cabin, the conductor peeped out and yelled to the slowly crushing crowd headed for me and the door, “one passenger only!” And of course, by default that was good old me. Agile as a buck, I jumped in and I immediately texted my mate how lucky I was that I didn’t have to wait long. I didn’t even get to take my knapsack off my back when that door opened for me. No time to be guilty over those left behind in the heat, this senior deserves it, I thought.

Finally settled in the only available seat, I noticed that the air conditioning exhaust and control above me was kaput but said to myself, that’s okay. Even with that minor inconvenience, I was still lucky. Then as my system slowly shut down and headed for a comfortable nap, I heard the conductor suddenly yell out the name of the next stop, ”Malandag!” That jolted me awake.

Oh no, this wasn’t the one-stop bus that I thought it was. As I looked slowly around, I noted the small differences in the cabin; smaller type of passenger seats, darker curtain design and un-carpeted flooring. It had dawned on me; I was really in the wrong bus. To further compound that realization, the conductor had again yelled for those who wanted to alight in the next town, “Malungon!” Oh my… as I further sank in my seat…

The last time I road in these types with plenty of stops before their final destination had been back in the 90s. Correct me if I’m wrong but, there must be four types of buses plying the provincial and city-to-city routes at the present. There’s the aircon non-stop (which is most expensive), then the aircon one-stop, the stationary (the one I’m in) and finally in last, the non-aircon. The last two types have regular stop in smaller towns until it reaches the city.

When I texted my partner again, she couldn’t stop laughing. Just enjoy the ride, she said. Familiarize yourself with the tiny places you’ve never been to. As the bus again moved on to its next stop, I thought, I’m making this my small adventure and look forward to the next terminal. Then, I wondered, why is this called stationary again?



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