With approximately 20 typhoons a year, the Philippines is one of the most typhoon prone countries in the world. Our country was expected to experience two to three typhoons in the month of September alone. That’s discounting the typhoons of the previous months and an approximate of five more typhoons before December this year. Needless to say, typhoons have devastated our homes and livelihoods, which has, unfortunately, cost the country billions of pesos worth of damage, and priceless lives.
But besides helping our fellow countrymen and women recover from the casualties, many of us constantly have to deal with what’s in front of us during these destructive typhoons. That is, without question, the very very real struggles of commuters in these trying times. We’ve heard so many horror stories about the commute from family, friends and colleagues. So, we asked Filipinos who were willing to share their experience to show everyone just how real the struggle is. Some experiences are funny while some, just downright stressful. The one thing we all have in common? We’re all victims of climate change, one way or another.
1. Ihing–ihi na ako!
“I forgot which storm this was but it was in 2013. I was coming home from Mother Ignacia and I was stuck in the FX for hours. Instead of the usual 1 ½ hours, mga 4 hours na ako on the road. Traffic was bad and parts of Q.C. Ave. were flooded. Espana even more so. At one point I needed to pee. I initially thought I could hold it in until I arrived at UST so I could pee there in peace, then just ride an FX again after.
But no, umabot sa do or die point. I really had to pee so the moment I saw a gas station, I got down na and lumusob ako sa baha. Submerging my feet in floodwater made matters worse because na-intensify niya yung urge to pee. Akala ko talaga maiihi na ako sa baha tapos naisip ko, if maihi talaga ako sa baha, I would walk home because nakakahiya to ride an FX smelling like pee. Haha! Gross and TMI.
Thankfully, umabot ako sa CR ng gas station kaso pag dating ko, I found out wala naman lock yung CR. Wala nang lock, kadiri pa kasi muddy na sa loob. I had to ask random kuyas (na tumatambay magpalipas ng baha) to guard the door for me. I knew it was risky kasi baka pervs or hindi talaga nila bantayan, but bless their souls, they really did watch the door for me. I got to pee and I was able to ride another FX shortly after. I can’t forget that kasi medyo na-accept ko na noon na may possibility na umuwi ako with soiled undies and pants. Both baha at wiwi. From then on, I made it a point to pee before leaving any place.”
“We went to Greenbelt to watch Cinemalaya last Aug 2018. It wasn’t raining that hard when we went there, but biglang bumuhos ang ulan pag uwi namin. Ayun, pahirapan sa pag sakay. Nag-aagawan ang mga tao sa taxi at namimili pa ng pasahero ang ilang drivers. Wala rin kumukuha ng Grab booking namin. After almost 3 hours, finally nakakuha kami ng Grab pauwi ng Pasig. Medyo nakaka-trauma and nakaka-panic attack pag wala kang masakyan pauwi talaga. So we don’t go far na kung nagbabadya ang mga ulap.”
3. Sabi ko, “Makakauwi ako ngayong gabi!”. Sabi ng baha, “Willing to wait?”
“I think it was during Ondoy in 2009, I was trying to go home from SM North, gabi na. I live near E. Rodriguez corner Banawe and nakalimutan ko ano yung lakad ko that time but I was alone and scared na ma-stranded with the other commuters. Kahit baha na, I still got on a taxi and was willing to pay the driver kahit magkano maiuwi lang ako. But hindi nakatawid sa Araneta Ave., which is notorious pagdating sa baha. Maraming ikot but eventually kinailangan pa rin ako ibaba somewhere sa may Tomas Morato dahil hindi kaya maraanan talaga.
Convinced na hindi ganun kalala ang baha sa E. Rodriguez side, I got on a jeepney, mga midnight na siguro ito, pero pareho lang. Ang daming stuck na sasakyan sa tubig just before Araneta Ave. I’m not sure, pero either I walked back all the way to Morato or hired another taxi and naiiyak na ako. I was only around 16 years old at this time and new in the city! Scared, I just went to a McDonald’s branch nearby and slept there. I went home around 5 or 6am.”
4. I’m waterproof, nothing to lose. Fire away…oh wait.
Video credit: Maika Bernardo and Chino Subido
“I bike to and from work on most days. On days when the weather is outright ghastly, I reluctantly cough up the money for an overpriced Grab ride, or drive and question my life choices as I crawl through gridlock traffic.
The decision to take the bike happens as I wake up, and is thus governed by what I see out the window. But global warming is a bitch that makes weather patterns even more fickle. Some mornings may start out sunny and fine, but be dropping buckets of rain by day’s end.
I usually wait it out in such situations, but there was this one time where I really had to get going from the office (because of an appointment I couldn’t be late for) with the rain really coming down. So I got an extra large trash bag, cut out holes for my head and arms, wrapped my shoes in plastic, and used masking tape to seal all loose ends and openings. I was completely waterproof. I also looked ridiculous. Still, I felt I would have the last laugh; I was going to beat traffic AND stay dry.
I mounted my bike, pulled out of the building, and the rain literally stopped after five seconds.
Anyone who thinks global warming isn’t real is an idiot.”
5. Heto akooo, basang-basa sa ulan!
“I was commuting to work despite really heavy rains in the morning as I needed to make it to the office for an important meeting that could no longer be cancelled. While I was walking along EDSA, a bus speedily passed the street just as I was near this huge puddle of water.
I’m sure you know what happens when cars pass through huge puddles of water. And so I found myself drenched in a rainwater-puddle-waterfall! Good thing I had an extra set of clothes in the office or else I would have struggled to find a way to dry my clothes in time for my meeting.”
6. Why is the line suddenly not moving???
“Heavy rainfall + payday weekend = awful commute! I had errands to do at SM North EDSA (paybills, etc.) one payday Friday. I lined up at around 4pm to ride the jeepney to UP Diliman. By then, the line was already long. At that time, I was estimating it would probably take 4 or 5 filled up jeepneys before it was my turn to ride. It wasn’t so bad since jeepneys kept on arriving anyway. Then it started to rain heavily!!!
The line was no longer moving and it was only getting longer. We were moving, I think, only every 30 minutes. By the time I was near the jeepney and about to board, I noticed there was another line to the same jeepney station and people were starting to line up there, too. My first reaction is that some people were going to start cutting in the line. Later on, the jeepney arrived and I was about to board — finally! After 4 long hours! Ito na, resbakan na, because I wouldn’t let people cut in the line and I was bracing for the worst.
Then someone from the other line clarified, “Ito po yung pila para sa mga sasabit”. Biruin mo yun, may pila pati sa mga sasabit. One man in the “sabit” line was carrying with him a Conti’s box of cake. Probably his pasalubong. I didn’t get to see whether he pushed on with the sabit, went to the end of the “uupo sa loob” line, or took a taxi or Grab instead. I rode the jeepney going to UP Diliman feeling sorry. And tired and hungry. We’re all victims of an awful transportation system.”
7. Quit playing games with my heart…
“So my colleague and I decided to go to work together this one time. She said we should just take a GrabCar going to Salcedo where our office is. I’m the genius who said let’s take the bus ‘cause it’s not raining. I even suggested we have breakfast at the nearby McDonald’s.
When we were near our stop, the rain poured in all directions. Even with a windbreaker and an umbrella, I was soaked. I ran into McDo soaked, shivering because of the cold aircon.
I drank my hot chocolate and well, looked out the window and saw that the rain stopped.
But guess what happened when I was about to leave… ”
8. Try again next time…
“I live in a condo in Mandaluyong. Every weekend, I go home to my parents in Bulacan. One Saturday, in the middle of a LPA and habagat, I decided to leave the condo later than I’m used to. I got to Trinoma and bought a cup of coffee because I knew I had to wait due to the long lines at the UV terminal. What I thought was an hour-long wait turned into 3 hours.
The queue for the FX going to SM Marilao snaked from the terminal to the escalators of Trinoma. We were told there were limited SUVs due to the flood in our area, which at that time, according to Facebook, was waist deep already. I tried to book a GrabCar, making friends with the people who were in line with me so we could split the total amount, but of course, no sane driver would agree to that. I ended up going back to the condo with my brother who got stranded like me, and buying another cup of coffee.”
9. All it takes is a leap of faith!
On a weekday morning during a typhoon, the rain suddenly died down. So, I left home in Cubao to meet a client. But before I even got to the bus stop, rain and wind returned with a vengeance. Luckily, there was an empty cab that was coming.
“Greenhills lang, boss!”
All that was in between me and the dry empty cab was the gutter-deep waters. So, I leap to the car.
Then RIP goes my pants.
My early morning commute ended with me going back home to change clothes. Commute in the Philippines has become a game of chances.
Bonus: Stranded and “saved” by street vendors — saan ka pa!
“When Ondoy happened, I was on my way to my friend’s birthday. It was already drizzling when we left the house, but I demanded to go. So my dad drove me, and my brother tagged along. Then it started to rain harder. We were in Q.C. Memorial Circle when my friend called up to tell me that she was postponing her celebration because the mall we were supposed to meet in closed. We ended up stuck along Q.C. Memorial Circle for 6 hours!
We survived by buying from the very resilient and wais vendors selling coffee, cup noodles, and newspapers to drivers and passengers. As in sugod lang silang naka-boots and raincoats to sell everyone life essentials. Magagaling talaga dito ang Pinoy. Nagsold-out yata silang lahat. Sa boredom namin, bumili kami ng newspapers not only to read but also to draw on. Grabe, 6 hours. Nagpabili pa nanay ko samin ng pandesal on our way home. ‘Di ako prepared. ”
Do you share in all these commuter woes? We feel you. We can only hope that the government finally gets its act together and make all our lives easier by improving our commuting systems — because it looks like the Philippines won’t be short of typhoons anytime soon.