Four-year-old Boy in the Backseat

I booked my sister’s family online for their flight to Bacolod and the mistake I made when I finalized the transaction with the wrong departure date requires me to go to PAL’s ticket office in NAIA Terminal 2 to get the revised ticket and pay for the additional fee in the process. But rather than fret about that costly mistake, which I did while sleepy thus missing the most important detail, I considered it as a blessing in disguise. What I initially plan to do by taking public transport alone and recovering my lack of sleep inside a cozy bus and taxi to the airport office, became a trip with me behind the wheel and wifey and Marcus tagging along. We haven’t been together in a mall for a leisurely visit so this one made a trip to MOA justifiable.

During the 30-kilometer trip, Marcus has been talking non-stop, asking repetitive questions. “Where’s the airport?”, “Are we near the airport?”, “Where is MOA?”, “Why are we turning here, not there?” had me and wifey exchange turns to give the same answer. However, other than these are-we-there-yet inquiries, there were those that we don’t know where to get the answers from and there was one that had both of us skipped a heartbeat. We’ve been preparing for the question and I really once thought that I will be ready when that time comes but yesterday I realized that I am not. What a four year-old boy can do. A special four year-old boy in the backseat.

***

The reason I got the idea of taking a side trip to MOA is because Marcus had told his mother that he wants to go biking again in MOA and the last time we did this was more than two years ago when we participated in a fun run for a cause. So despite doing it in the evening, and with me restraining myself not to grab something alcoholic from one of the nearby bars and restos and which I know that wifey has another idea of a night out, Marcus successfully got his wish and pedaled his way in the midst of the crowd enjoying the colorful night in SM by the Bay.

***

Marcus tweets

Starting today, I will use #4yointhebackseat to tweet about things (hopefully amusing ones) Marcus will say (or have said) while in the backseat. I once started #nurserylog which are about his school days but unfortunately I cannot retrieve the first ones. I am now wondering if there’s some application I can use to import a particular hash tag to my blog and to archive it as well.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks (Anxiety coming back.)

The Rain and the Road

Several days this week have been rainy and each time presents random memories.

Baptismal by Rain

Thursday. I commuted to work on my motorcycle. Unfortunately, when I headed back home the sky went dark and the threat of rain became a reality–my first time to get caught in the rain while on a motorcycle. I was almost soaked midway of my trip and the laptop in my backpack forced me to seek shelter. While waiting for the rain to stop, I had flashbacks of days when times like this doesn’t matter. As long as we’re with our bikes, sunny days and rainy days seem to be just the same. I miss the carefree days when we’d be racing in the rain and bunny-hopping puddles oblivious to the dangers such as riding without a helmet or any other body protection. Back then it was just our bikes and us, no worries.

freestyle days
Good old bike days.

Star Tollway

Friday was another rainy road trip. After dropping by work earlier than usual and then driving to Sto. Tomas, Batangas to meet my brother-in-law and his wife for an urgent and stressful meeting, I decided it was the perfect time and reason to hit the long road again to relax. Thanks to the scarcity of the road signs and markers in the Star Toll way, I missed the exit to Lipa  which made me decide to go straight towards Batangas City as the rest of Star Toll way’s well-paved highway made me achieve 120 KPH with almost no effort at all.

star tollway
This is noontime.

The long and fast drive sent me back to a mixture of memories and imagination. I began to remember Kuala Lumpur’s road wherein Mercedes Benz and compact cars are as ubiquitous as our Jeepneys. I also recalled my dream-like trip from Wisconsin to Madison which until now I can’t believe I was there for a moment in my life.  This also reminded me of disaster movies. The whole horizon was covered with thin nimbus clouds that it was easy to forget it was just noontime then.

After lunch in SM Batangas, we started our way back home around 4 PM. The drive turned out not to be uneventful. We had a near miss when some guy placed an improvised spike on the middle of Star Toll way. Good thing I noticed him doing something fishy and I remembered from motoring forum threads that this modus operandi is being done by some vulcanizing guys to get customers. I was doing 100 KPH and had that spike punctured our tire, some funeral homes will for sure profit from that a**hole’s enterprising scheme.

Sta. Rosa Exit

highway works
Believe it or not, this is South Luzon Expressway.

That Friday wasn’t meant to be SSDD. After dropping Noel and Lani back in Sto. Tomas, my wife and I took another route home to Cavite. I’ve had enough of bad roads and I won’t mind another long drive. So we took the Sta. Rosa exit instead of Carmona. This route has been in construction for a couple of months already and even to those familiar with it may find it dangerous especially at night.

Carmona road
Segment of Carmona Road. Road repair almost invisible at night. Beware.

But all’s not so dark and gloomy. Somewhere in the middle of our trip while tuned in to Magic 89.9′s Friday Magic program, I heard a familiar name greeted by another familiar name. Hahaha. It was my wife who sent an SMS greeting for me over the radio. She’s done it several times in the past which still surprises me every time.

The last time we passed the Sta. Rosa route was more than a year ago and we still have our cute Kia Pride that time. Nothing has changed so far but at least it’s better than keeping my eye open for road under repair signs (or the lack of it) in Carmona. An obvious improvement though is noticeable right after we reached Tagaytay. Now, large portions of the road have a dividing line between two lanes. Years ago, one has to drive with wide eyes open and lights in full beam to survive. At least, some of our public works officials finally(!) acted on this problem. I’m just wondering though who (or how many) got into an accident for this to happen. I just hope he’s a politician.

 

Death Race: A Film By Filipinos

The other night my beloved wifey and I watched the last full show of the film Death Race (Starring Jason Statham as Jensen Ames) because Wall-E isn’t showing anymore. And while on my way to meet up with her at the mall, I was thinking of the title which by itself is a no brainer. As it implies, I presume that it’s just all about death and race. No more. No less. But wait, there’s more.

The moment the film started rolling, it immediately captured my attention with some of its projected text on the silver screen and with some questions running on my mind along with it.

2012 in America. Will we be there by this time?

Unemployment. Will we be included?

Death. Entertainment?

Race. Will we be watching another live F1 soon? And when?

My wife, as I expected, started giving her naughty remarks (I always know that it is meant to annoy me) while I was starting to sink in to the story. But instead of hushing her, I myself made my own mumbled remarks in agreement. And as if those keywords aren’t enough to keep us related to the opening part of the film with its resemblance to our pending future, the opening scene also shows the main character getting laid off from his job in the metal factory. There’s chaos in the line of workers waiting for their turn to get their last pay. At this point, I was beginning to feel uneasy and I was somewhat praying to get over with the factory scene and show the death race itself.

A few frames more, the factory setting ended, thankfully. I did not mind when the succeeding scenes became tragic with Jensen drugged by someone in a ski mask and eventually becoming unconscious just to wake up with police and their hand guns sticking inches away from his face while trying to make sense what he’s doing with a knife in his hand and his dead wife beside him. Needless to say, that landed him in prison.

His role in Terminal Island became apparent when he was offered to participate in the famous Death Race since his record shows that he was a famous car racer years before. His acceptance of the part will be his way out of the prison facility with the condition that he will win the race. (Sadly, I didn’t catch in the film the reason why he needed the said career and instead endured working inside the hot metal factory).

So just like any sane man offered to race for freedom, Jensen accepted. And this is where I started to enjoy the film. The main death race had several inmates as drivers and with their own armored, gun-mounted, and extra modified cars. Among them of course is Jensen who had to wear a mask in order to pretend as Frankenstein who was actually the famous death racer who perished in the opening scene but without the fans’ knowledge. The race is viewed online by fans numbering in millions with each paying at least $99 per view while the death racers outrun and “outgun” each other.

While I consider this as a B-movie, I actually applaud whoever was behind it. I’m now beginning to imagine that the people who conceptualized this movie are a team composed of Dana White’s men, ex-FIA officials, troubled American school kids, Twisted Metal (PS1 game) programmers and last but not the least – Filipino drivers.

Why? Because I find this movie a mixture of UFC fighters who are driving F1 cars with trigger-happy American school kids handling the Gatling gun’s remote button. Furthermore, the Filipinos here are divided into two sub- teams. First are those drivers who love to mount anything on their jeepneys from horse figures, shiny CDs, LEDs, more LEDS, horns, and unlimited antennas just to name a few–they are the designers of the Death Race cars. The other Filipinos are those who designed the weapon activation systems–-which I wish I’m one of them as sometime, just sometimes (wink wink), I wish I had those buttons inside our Mary.

Surprising as it may seem, I recommend this movie to let out some steam without doing any harm to the stubborn driver in front of you while stuck in traffic. Road rage alert. Watch out for bald male driver fumbling with the cigarette lighter

Step In Their Shoes

 We call them stupid, litterbugs, lazy, morons, dumb, a**hole and any other names that may not be even found in the dictionary. Sometimes we call them just insensitive. But aren’t we? This week is one of the stressful weeks for me. Stress that comes from all sort of factors that even I wonder if I should be caring about it in the first place.

There’s the pressure from work that is a mixture of delivery and people management. People who seem not to work and don’t understand what is expected from them.

There’s the tricycle driver who drives like as if there’s no tomorrow and would be so willing to include you in their death wish.

There’s the jeepney driver who would intentionally park in front of a No Park Zone to spend time to wait for passengers despite knowingly causing a traffic jam right behind them. And the irony of it all is that it is in front of a traffic police or enforcer who looks like they have the worst case of cataract that blinds them of an ongoing violation.

There’s the homeowner who refuses to pay his dues because he feels that he is not obligated to do so and who would sometimes reason out that he has problems with finances but you’d find him smoking packs of cigarettes a day and would see his house lit brightly with Christmas lights and decors.

There’s the loan processor who doesn’t seem to extend a bit of customer care by giving advice to the applicant that his car loan application is sitting stagnant in his inbox for quite some time due to the lack of one simple signature.

And there are the street scavengers who would open up garbage bags and throw away its content in search of recyclables and never even caring to fix it back thus creating an eye sore in the process.

Sheesh. The list goes on.

So today, while on a day off I keep reflecting what must have gone wrong for me to suffer such stress. I can’t find any reason except that I too have been busy or that I could have been too self-centered or that I just lack  empathy.

Merriam-Webster defines empathy as”noun, the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.”

Ouch! I never knew Merriam-Webster could inflict such slap in the face. I only experience such guilt during mass’ homilies. Understanding. Being aware of. Being sensitive to. Such words played in mind just as caffeine would do to my bloodstream. It kept me awake, restless and uneasy.

Well, I have come up to some realization on my stress list. There must be a reason for each.

Just imagine not having eaten for quite a while and the only hope you’ve got is to pick and sell items at the junk shop in order for you to take your first meal after a couple of days. And with the other man inside the bus hating you just because you to failed to keep the street clean.

Imagine if you have to juggle payroll, separation payments and loan applications. Some want their last pay and another one badly wants a new car.

Imagine if you have got a really sick kid at home and the only way to buy those medicines is to work double time by either driving a tricycle or a jeepney and optimize its capacity even with the risk of getting apprehended by a police officer. And one of your passengers is just thinking of traffic laws and having to get to the mall to kill time.

Sometimes the world would be such better place if we stop thinking just all about us. Sometimes we need to understand why people act the way they do. With this we might be able to extend our help or at least lessen a bit of our expectations and in effect lessen the stresses in our lives. Sometimes we just have to step in their shoes.

****

P.S. I just can’t find any reason why a homeowner won’t pay their dues when in fact they are getting the benefits of the village funds. Ti abi.

 

Driving with Wifey (My First Blog, Actually)

(I was browsing my multiply.com site and saw this one hidden. Then I remember, this is my first shot at doing a blog. Since I’ve also posted this in our company’s internal site, I deleted its name here. (hint: Only the paranoid survive). Some of the practices in this blog though may not be true anymore. Rest assured, I still respect the pedestrian lanes.)

I like walking around our company’s campus a lot. Why? Because it is here where most drivers abide by the speed limits placed on designated lanes. It is also where both drivers and passengers are strictly required to wear seat belts; and where motorists patiently wait for the pedestrians to safely cross the street before they proceed driving. In the Philippines, this is almost too ideal if not unreal.

Day in day out, this practice goes on inside this pedestrian-friendly campus. Lately though, I’ve observed that the gates seem to look like a pit lane’s entrance and exit. The former is where speeding employees would brake to follow minimum speed; the latter is where outgoing employees would rev their engines and hit the gas and dash to their destinations like F1 drivers. I even once wondered if these gates are warp zones that zap drivers into entirely different worlds.

Frankly, I was guilty of this act, too. I’ve been driving back and forth for almost one and a half year already. I admit I drove like hell outside the campus during the first year. It is a good thing that our company had this online Defensive Driving course which I took and passed. Still, I continue to drive aggressively but just more cautious than before—I would mentally count thousand one, thousand two, thousand three…to estimate my distance from the car in front of mine. At least.

Then time came for my wife to learn how to drive. I became her boot-camp coach whenever she drives us to and from work. However, despite my conscious effort to lecture her on the proper and safe way to drive, it was always a matter of time when we would end the driving sessions in frustration. This made me reflect and assess why.

Then it struck me. I have been a believer that good teachers make equally good students and it was through this series of driving that made me realize that I could be a (big) factor why wifey made me feel uneasy being strapped beside her as a passenger. It was a case of bad teacher, bad student. How can I expect her to follow what I am teaching if she does not see me doing most of it. Practice what you preach, right?

It is now almost two weeks already since I have been driving defensively. This time there is not much mad honking, lesser unnecessary overtaking, more consideration, and improved courtesy. For those who do not know yet, it feels good all the time.

And guess what? Just this weekend my wife was on the wheel from our home to our favorite hang-out, almost 20 kilometers away and she did perfectly well, almost perfect until it was time to park. But then again, nobody’s perfect. She’s currently grounded. Just kidding.