Many people complain about how lousy commuting is, especially for those heading to Manila and the dizzying streets of the big city. Factor in the fact that the public transportation sector is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic. Long commutes, sitting in traffic, and public transportation— LRT and MRT queues all add to the draining experience of a commuter. I can relate to that as a commuter who travels from Nasugbu, Batangas, to Manila.
Nasugbu is neither too close nor too far from Manila. Whether you take public transit or your own vehicle to get to Manila, expect the trip to take anywhere from three to four hours. As for commuters, myself included, we can take advantage of bus services that run between Nasugbu and Manila.
With the F2F classes resuming, being a commuter is a daunting task for me.
I have been commuting ever since I started learning to travel alone, but it still feels like an impossible chore. During the pre-pandemic times, I temporarily lived in Tondo; I commuted around the busy streets of Metro Manila. And with the F2F classes resuming, being a commuter is a daunting task for me, as I decided to travel back-to-back from my hometown, Nasugbu, to Manila. Returning home and then making the trip back to Manila for school is a draining experience. Yes, but what is my real enemy when riding a provincial bus? The high bus fares.
The bus fare is not student-friendly.
When you are a student from the province who travels by bus, the bus fare is not student-friendly. Sure, some bus companies give student discounts, but not all. I tried to ask the bus conductor to give me a discount with my student ID card, but they refused. It happened a lot of times. However, according to the “Student Fare Discount Act,” or RA 11314, all public utility vehicles should give students a grant of a 20% discount as long as they present their school IDs. I believe it is a denial of my rights. It may not be a huge deal for some, but it is for me. Collecting fares higher than the discounted regular fare should never be normalized.
The traffic congestion along the Emilio Aguinaldo Highway
Aside from the high bus fare, the traffic congestion along the Emilio Aguinaldo Highway is an enemy hard to defeat. Before arriving at my final destination, Manila, I have to pass through the busy towns and cities of Cavite— Bacoor, Imus, Dasmarinas, Silang, and Tagaytay. My only relief during a traffic jam is a safe and comfortable bus ride and my commute playlist.
Take the 3-4 hours of travel for granted.
Commuting from Nasugbu to Manila is far from the worst. If you’re taking the bus alone, you might as well enjoy the ride; familiarize yourself with the route. Take the three to four hours of travel for granted. Put on your earphones and listen to your commute playlist while being aware of your surroundings. For me, seated on the window side with my earphones on puts me in senti-mode, but still not letting my guard down-especially when I am traveling back home at night.
Everyone has a different commuting experience.
Some commuters experienced worse– especially those living in Manila and other provinces that do not have enough public vehicles. They had to leave early to avoid the frustratingly long queues for the MRT, LRT, bus, or jeepney to get to work or classes on time. To my great fortune, I have not yet had the worst commute experience that our co-commuters experience daily.
Thinking about what-ifs and could-have-been adds up to the commuter’s already exasperating level of frustration. Our current administration has several plans to improve transportation. However, Filipino commuters still face horrible transportation and commuter crises. The government’s plans to improve our transportation system cannot be developed overnight, but it does not mean it will never be achieved. We have to hope for the better and believe.
Everyone has different commuting experiences, especially those who study and work in Manila. It’s much worse for others, and their frustration with policymakers’ inaction is understandable. And they are some people who think commuting long distances can be as enjoyable as private vehicle travel. We just have to make the most out of it. You definitely have your own commuting experience; feel free to share yours!
Judie likes to write about real-life stories because she wants her readers to understand what it's like to be there and feel the same emotions as the characters she is writing about. She has a great eye for detail and the ability to perform well under pressure because she has been a writer since middle school. And she wants to be the writer who can speak truth to power, stand up for the voiceless, expose hypocrisy, injustice, and bring attention to what she believes to be significant.