Uber Is A Verb But Now It’s Gone

I am 1 of the 640,000,000 inhabitants of Southeast Asia.  And I am 1 of those who was just gone upset now that Uber is no longer operational in this part of the world.  I am an Uber user since the time Uber started in the Philippines.  It is my chosen ride-hailing firm as compared to Grab, a Singaporean-based and a more giant in my region.

Uber was my preferred ride every time I would travel back to Manila.  It has prevented me from dealing with the swindler cum taxi drivers infesting the Manila airports.  And though it’s no longer operational here in the Philippines, I intend to keep the Uber app in the phone.  

i’ve been notified! grrr!

 

I am an Uber user because I find it more efficient, a lot cheaper and the drivers seem more polite.  I’m an Uber user that I even got to use Uber as a verb in my daily conversations with people.  My admiration to Uber got more intense when I travelled solo in Istanbul.  It was the ride I took when I need to spend the night in a hotel near the Istanbul airport. And when Nengkoy, my sister and I was in Bangkok, Uber was our preferred mode of transportation.

But the use of Uber would soon be so foreign to me both as an app and as a verb.  Using an Uber now would only signify that I am out of my country for some travel, rest and recreation! Here’s one cute Uber Philippines commercial though…

Thanks for the short yet precious time Uber.  Hoping to use you soon!

Josme! Pano Na???

Riding The Jeepney: A Fulfilled 2014 New Year’s Resolution

Worthy grade school teachers taught us that precise goals must be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bounded.  This very principle was one of the backbones when I set my New Year’s resolutions late last year.

And I am glad to convey that I am triumphant in accomplishing one of these resolutions.  That is, to discontinue riding the pricey taxi when going to and from my workplace.  And instead, settle for the more economical Jeepney ride.

Considered a cultural icon, Jeepney is a bus-like mode of public transport uniquely found in the Philippines

Considered a cultural icon, Jeepney is a bus-like mode of public transport uniquely found in the Philippines

It is actually only fifteen to twenty minutes by foot getting to my workplace.   This is why my initial goal/resolution was to walk daily to and from my office daily.  But because of the thick toxic air pollutants in Metro Manila as well as fear from tropical sun’s Vitamin D overdose, I settled on taking the Jeepney ride.

My ceasing to take the taxi this year actually has lots of advantages.  I no longer have to deal with ill-mannered opportunistic taxi drivers and experience those horrible circumstances:  (i) suffering from feelings of rejection after being declined by taxi drivers who refuse to have me as their passenger; (ii) enduring the stench of putrid taxi interiors or the reeking foul body odor of taxi drivers who opted to start their day without initially getting a good shower; and, (iii) feelings of being duped every time the driver would not hand me the exact change but instead compute change based not to the nearest ten but to the ‘next’ ten.

Aside from averting myself to all these stressful hideous encounters, riding the Jeepney gives me the sense of being grounded.  It somewhat makes me feel that my soul is aligned and so incorporated with the Filipino norm and culture.  Others may say that riding a Jeepney is so baduy (tacky) and so masa (for cheap lowly masses).  But for me, these people can have their fake and shallow elitist eccentricity with freaking lavish panache and let me and the rest of the Jeeney riding public have the biggest benefit of all.  That is the astonishing bargain of paying for a Jeepney fare and the savings that we can actually amass.  Tell me who doesn’t like bargain and I will smack the freaking grungy muffler of the Jeepney on his or her face!

To be exact, my taxi fare (on a return basis) would cost me around 140 pesos.  But the Jeepney fare back and forth is only 17 pesos daily (as of this writing has been lowered down to 15 pesos).  Based on simple mathematics, this accomplished New Year’s resolution saved me a staggering 29,520 pesos for the whole year.  This money is actually more than enough for a plane ticket if you’re journeying from Manila to Tokyo and back!  This amount in point of fact is actually more than a two-month-salary of a minimum wage earner in Manila.  And is actually enough to pay for my electric bill for six remarkable months!

To sum it up, my simple yet specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bounded goal and resolution which I triumphantly achieved this year was indeed worth it.  I am not saying that I will no longer be riding the taxi, what I’m simply saying is that my preferred mode of transport when going to and from my office is the Jeepney.  And until major changes happen to the “taxi culture” and improvements be felt regarding the taxi drivers’ urbanity in the Philippines, I plan to continue riding the ever reliable Jeepney in the next years to come.

Sige. Ikaw na ang sosyal! 

World War Z and the Philippine Zombie

pile of zombies going up the israeli wall in the movie World War Z

pile of zombies going up the israeli wall in the movie World War Z

Zombies are not counted in traditional Filipino mythical world as well as folklores of the ghoulish variant.  There is actually no Filipino-Tagalog translation for a Zombie.  And to further prove this point, the old Filipino letters actually does not have a letter Z in it.  Thus, zombies are non-existent in the Philippines and that it is a product of a western mind.

With this underpinning thought, I am confident that in the zombie-movie World War Z, the bug did not originate from the Philippines.  But the movie made me anxious and curious if zombies would be able to reach the Philippines.  Like Japan and Indonesia, the Philippines is an archipelago.  Thus, to reach and cross its borders you can only enter either via air or water never by land.

I am not a fan of zombie-genre-movies but World War Z ranks right up in my list in terms of making me stunned and jolt right on my seat.  Though the movie was intensely entertaining, it is regrettable that it did not illustrate if the Philippines was infected or was in the clear.  But with the depiction that the infection will alter a person’s appearance and behavior in just 12 seconds, I presupposed that the Philippines was indeed spared.  Why? A zombie characterized to have poor dexterity can’t fly an airplane or sail a boat.  And with an extreme aggressiveness and severe hunger for human flesh all passengers of an airplane or a ship would easily be infected before its engine can even start.

When Brad Pitt decided to go to Israel being one of the countries that have kept the zombies at bay because of their construction of a wall, I was shouting “Go to the Philippines!!!  You will be safe here!!!” inside the cinema hoping he would hear me.  And when the zombies were able to go over the wall of Israel and infected its citizens depicted in a visually astonishing style, I was again shouting inside the movie house “I told you Brad!!!  I told you!!!”

a usual occurrence in zombie-filled manila

a usual occurrence in zombie-filled manila

Maybe the reason why there is no zombie here is because we Pinoys already have so much to deal with.  Like having the same equation in different dimension, the zombies of the Philippines are in the form of car thefts, kidnappers, pickpockets, armed robbers and atrocious taxi drivers.  These are the on-going catastrophe of Philippine society.

I no doubt enjoyed the compelling World War Z movie and I just hope, similar to what Brad Pitt and those scientist/doctors did in the movie, we finally discover a cure or antidote that would put an end to the pandemic Philippine zombies.

Maging mabuti. Hwag maging sombi.

Cab Drivers of Civilized Baguio

I like Baguio.  After staying for a long weekend in this city located at the northern part of the Philippines, it made me realize that it is the more civilized version of Manila.

Green parks and beautiful landscapes, limited number of mendicants, rosy pimple-free skins of charming inhabitants, pedestrian-courteous motorists, less congested streets, breathable air, healthy produce, efficient services and a no smoking city with limited cigarette smoking spots were remarkably impressive.  Aside from all these, what really impressed me about Baguio are its cab drivers.

green breathable park of baguio

In wicked Manila, taxi drivers don’t know the concept of “change fund” and almost always never give you the exact change for your payment.  Your change is always rounded off to the next tenth of your fare, i.e. if your fare is worth 72.50 pesos and you handed a 100-peso bill ridiculous drivers would only give you 20 bucks as your change.  Insisting that you have been short-changed and demanding for the remaining change is like inviting hostilities and luring dangerous confrontations.  They would usually justify in an unfriendly douchebag manner that they don’t have smaller bills or loose change to fulfill your demand.

Stumbling upon a Manila cab driver who is nice and runs a spotless vehicle and will give you all your change is like finding a little miracle in itself in this city.  I don’t require cab drivers to smile or converse with me while traversing the streets of the metro, giving me my exact change is all that I need.

But in Baguio civilized, honest, fair and courteous cab drivers abound.  It was so surprising that these drivers issue the exact change.  I actually thought I was vacationing in a very civilized first world country when I counted the exact change handed to me by the driver.  This may be too trifling for something to be amazed about, but for me after having been subjected to a galaxy of horrors by Manila cab drivers, such character is something to smile and acclaim about.

These drivers are one of the first inhabitants that a tourist would encounter in Baguio and usually the last ones to be engaged with when leaving the city.  No doubt, these motorists gave me a good impression about the City of Pines.

Hoy sukli ko?!