A Beginner’s Guide To (Real) Commuting
Because school buses and carpools are no longer an option
When we were kids, we never had to worry about how to get somewhere. We had our parents to bring us, our yayas to accompany us and school bus drivers to pick us up from and drop us back home. We never had to worry about falling asleep in the car, which road to take or how much money we’d be spending. But now that we’re all “adults,” we have to figure out these things for ourselves.
Sure, there’s always Grab (#ByeUber), but the app can honestly test someone’s patience and the rides can really rip a hole in someone’s wallet. But if we’re being honest, it’s not like the Philippine commute system is any more enticing to use. Nevertheless, the service disruptions, traffic and non-functioning features or old-school methods must be faced head on—but with proper preparation.
Where do I begin?
Like with most things, the commuting journey begins online. Sakay.ph is a wonderful site that provides you with a map, as well as jeepney, bus and train directions to destinations all over Metro Manila. Just plug in your starting point and destination and you’ll get everything from the instructions to estimated travel time and cost of the commute (all of which can be sent via SMS or printed out for offline use). So think of it like Grab, except more leg work.
Then again, there is also Google Maps, which isn’t just for looking up locations now. The app also gives you commuting instructions, including bus and train routes. And hey, you can personalize a few things too, depending on how many times you want to transfer or how long you have to walk (AKA those lazy days you just can’t be bothered to move much).
If you want to read up on first-hand commutes though, then check out ph-commute.com.
Buses, UV Express vans and P2P buses are meant for Manila’s bigger roads. They take you from Point A to Point B (and maybe a few other stops along the way) in relative ease and comfort (if you’re lucky enough to find a seat).
Jeepneys are great because they cover practically all public routes in Manila, but special permits are needed for them to traverse EDSA, SLEX and NLEX. A little cramped, a little hot and a little bumpy, but reliable for the most part.
Then there is the MRT and the LRT. There have been scares and there have been hours wasted in line with these two, but they’re still a very popular option. And we’d ask why, but we know the answer is because it skips all the traffic.
Don’t forget to bring a handkerchief (to keep smells, smoke and sweat at bay), loose change and a beep card. These will bring you pretty much anywhere, but you’ll definitely need patience, earphones and some downloaded music/movies/series as well—and a pamaypay and umbrella while you’re at it—all securely placed in a zippered bag.
The keep at homes
When commuting, it’s best to keep your attitude and valuables at home or in the office or wherever it is you’re coming from.
Commuting in Metro Manila isn’t an ideal situation. But hey, we gotta do what we gotta do, huh?
Art Alexandra Lara