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Dec. 20th, 2014

Game Plan

I graduated high school in 2008, and have been in college for a total five and a half years (summer semesters included).  I have accumulated over 200 units and I probably have about 30 to go which tells me that maybe I have 2 more semesters until I can finally get that Bachelor's Degree.  What's the game plan?

More studying.  I want to spend the rest of my life studying.  Because Alzheimer's Disease (AD) runs in both sides of the family, I had planned on getting a medical degree to help treat patients, which would include any members of my family, who are inflicted with that disease.  After doing my research, I realized that there is no treatment.  And so, I changed the game plan and aimed to contribute to the research to finding that treatment.

All I'm experiencing now is a setback.  The fact is that if I didn't move to the US, I would have my degree by now, maybe I'd be working on my PhD already.  At the same time, if I stayed in the Philippines, I would not have the same opportunity to do research over there.  Had I stayed over there, what would I be doing?  Probably not what I had planned to do.  Yes, it would take seven years to get my BS degree, but the delay is nothing but a setback.

So, I don't have any statistics and my opinion is based on a very small sample size, but not many people end up doing what they planned to do when they make that decision to go to college.  Some high school graduates enter their universities with a goal in mind.  Others enter despite not having that goal, thinking, "I'll figure it out later."  But when they walk out of these schools with their diplomas, many will be in the same predicament: what now?  That degree is a degree - and sometimes, it doesn't really matter what the degree even was.  Graduates can ometimes be so desperate to stand on their own two feet that they end up throwing those ideals and goals in order to move forward.  Sometimes it works out.  At least there's that.

Today, I still have that goal in mind - the idealistic notion that I would (help) find a cure for AD.  I'm taking these classes in the university that will show me what to expect when I do go into the research field - genetics classes which have been pretty deadly so far and the next one looks just as deadly.  Now, I ask myself: Understanding that the probability that I would even make a decent contribution to science is highly unlikely, is it worth it?

Maybe, maybe not.  Maybe it won't work out.  Maybe I'll end up being yet another member of that small sample size.  But there is a goal, and if I didn't have that, then what would I be doing with my life?  I will keep working towards that goal and hope that I obtain it.

Hope... The fact is that we never really have total control over our lives.  Lots of plot twists involved and you learn to go along with them.  These make the journey to the end full of challenges and, just maybe, we grow more as people.  But if self-growth is what we're looking for though, how does the world even move forward?  I don't know... more questions to answer previous questions.

What is the game plan?

There is none.

Jul. 1st, 2013

(no subject)

Oh-bee-bee is rapping because we asked him too. I wanted to take a picture of how much I was smiling from listening to him, but I just look like a horrid mess. Funny thing about listening to him is that I don't always understand what he says, but it's part of the charm.

Thanks for making me smile today.

Jun. 25th, 2013

Daily Smile

So I came up with the idea - which can be attributed to my friend, Oh-bee-bee - to continue updating this journal.  I remember that I used to write a lot, and I mean, A LOT.  I even signed up for a creative writing class to start that over, but it was one of the toughest classes I ever took because I discovered that I just cannot write under pressure.

But when I am inspired by the things I feel and experience around me or when the person I want to become plays a role in my mind, that's when I write.  But when I'm lost, that's another story.  As per usual, a random moment of uncertainty decides to unravel and make me rethink where I am in life, what I'm doing, who I've become and who I want to be.  I rarely ever find the answers.  I think on them, and then I pray, and then I'm content.  Am I happy?

I've been told before that I have a nice smile.  I am not sure what qualifies as a nice smile.  For one thing, I can't smile without showing teeth - it's just a horror.  I'm good at faking smiles, partially because my job requires it.  Mostly though, it's because smiling makes me genuinely happy for a moment.  Like the problems don't exist.  Like I know that there are more things that I can smile about in my life than what I usually focus on - problems beyond my ken or personal issues or the like.  My dance teacher always told us, "Fake it til you make it."  I never realized how smiling makes that oh-so-true for me.  And that's what I'm thinking of doing.

Just focus on the little things that make me smile.  An image.  An anecdote.  An emotion.

This is what I mean:

Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona (23 May 2013): I wanted to climb South Mountain, the nearest hiking site to my hotel, but because of the horrible heat (and the fact that I didn't have a hiking buddy with me), I didn't think it would be the best idea.  So I rode Sky (my car) up the mountain and reached Dobbin's Point.  This is not Dobbin's Point.  Wearing only my running shoes (not suitable for climbing at all, mind you), I climbed down some rocks, holding my camera in one hand and clutched on to unsteady rocks with the other.  Funny how my thought process was protecting the camera rather than my own life.  A fly decided to buzz around me and I said to it, "Bud, I don't have wings like you, okay?" and with that, it left me.  I would have appeared to be a mad woman - talking to animals, but what the heck, I talk to my car - but I was alone.  Completely and utterly alone for that moment.  We are not going to "what if's" now.

Regardless of the humor, I was terrified.  All this for a shot?  Seriously?  But my God, look at it!  The Arizona blue sky.  The rocks you see are the rocks at the edge. No zoom whatsoever.  I'm a small person looking down at a big city that doesn't even know I existed.  Even if Phoenix was not my life, it felt like I took myself out of life itself and captured that moment.  The risks - the most pathetic of risks even - can be taken to somehow achieve happiness and looking at where you stand.  I didn't find happiness in Arizona.  I found stupidity, tears and loneliness.  But more than that, I found peace, courage and strength.  It was here in this very spot that I grew up a little.

Mom told me that everyone thinks that it was stupid for me to run away from home - six hours away from home.  Sometimes I feel that way, but whenever I see this photograph, it reminds me that that trip was not for nothing.  It's bigger than what anyone had ever really anticipated or will ever really understand.

Nov. 18th, 2012

It's about time!

"Life isn't about finding yourself; it's about creating yourself." - George Bernard Shaw

Funny.  That quote hangs on my wall, and is usually the first thing I see when I wake up.  I got it so that it would be my daily motivation.  But sometimes, I truly believe I'm pathetic.  I work all these hours at the store and I do my best to keep my grades up with school work.  Lots of people do this as well, but I feel the pressure on my shoulders to be "perfect".  Growing up, I have never really been one you'd consider ambitious.  I do not like mediocrity; however, a big part of me knew and believed that I would never be perfect, so why bother to strive for that perfection?  Why drain yourself to the core and lose sleep over what will never happen?  Why would I stay up on all hours of the night studying and reviewing and working just so I get that A?  I mean, what are the chances even that I would get that A?  In my experience, I have pushed myself to the limit on several occasions, and where did I end up?  I ended up with that wretched D (though I will admit that I have gotten B's as well).  At least, in not putting your heart and soul to what you do, you don't open yourself up to disappointment.

It's funny how my college professors drilled into our minds that "Grades, they're just numbers" and that they don't matter in the real world.  I can't quite remember how or when, but to a certain extent, that became my philosophy.  I've had my mediocre moments, no doubt, but I wouldn't consider my work ethic to be mediocre.  On the contrary, I would put effort into just about everything that I did just so I wouldn't think to myself: "I should have done this."  Most of the time even, I would surprise myself at the end result because I did a lot better than I put out there.  I recall getting the highest grade in class, being one of eight students who passed a math exam, and all I did was listen in class.  How could I flaunt that when others stayed up half the night practicing problems and memorizing equations?

I suppose, what I'm trying to say is that, without even trying, IQ would consider me above average.  What is horrible about that is that I was content with being "above average".  I would make the excuse that I was an underachiever, but geez, who's fault is that?  I cannot pinpoint where it all changed, but it changed.  My way of thinking changed.  Perhaps it was moving to the United States and the instant belief that, "This is a new start, a new chapter" that people tend to say to themselves after one of those life-changing events.

I've changed my mindset a lot over the last two years since moving to the U.S., but you know, I haven't changed a bit.  Despite pushing myself to all sorts of limits - working to the bone and sometimes not even getting paid for it, biking to work at 4:30 in the morning, and trying to squeeze a little of school work in between, just to show I can do all things - I am still a procrastinator, a crammer, and to top it off, a lazy bum!  I can barely keep my room clean, much less clean it when granted the opportunity.  I make myself suffer because I know I'm willing to suffer.  Again, pathetic!  What do I have to gain?  Character-building?  HA!  I don't think so.  The essential things I need to be the ideal person (in my mind) are missing.  

Do you remember me saying something about being "perfect" a little earlier?  Well, if I could just listen to myself for once, I'd say:  

Screw perfection!  It's about frikin' time you became who you want to be, and believe me.  That person won't be perfect.  Nevertheless, it's you.  In your own eyes, once you become who you want to be, no one else will be better.

One step at a time, little girl.  You've got this.

Nov. 5th, 2012

The Last Resort

There are only so many ways a person can show they care.  You have probably seen the mini comic that reveals whether a person is "friend vs. true friend".  I'm not the type who would like to distinguish the two.  There are people with whom you connect with more on a deeper level, and there are those whom you just enjoy the company of.  So to speak, you look for one friend for one thing (maybe you need advice) and another friend for another (maybe you just need a good laugh).  Either way, it's friendship.

I do not know many people.  I try to go out and meet people, make friends, start over, because what's the use of just holding on to the people I know when they will not be there (in the physical) anymore?  Within my very narrow scope of influence, anyone could tell that I care.  The people I know, they trust me, and they look up to me.  It's an older-sister factor that is inherent in me because I take care of my little brother and because I learned from my older sister.  She is my role model in being a leader and in being a role model myself.

Unfortunately, people have taken advantage of me.  I could go on a whole "WHY ME?" spiel, but I shouldn't be surprised.  I have always been soft on people, because I do not know how to stand my ground and think of myself first.  The only people I can defy are my family.  Go figure.  For the last few years, they have tried their best to toughen me up - maybe even be as defiant to others as I am with them, because my family sees me suffer.  Whatever trials my friends have, I muddle through with them, only to have them take advantage of that.

The problem is this: I let them.  I let them use me and then leave me.  I let them make me cry.  I let them take all the credit when I deserve some.  I let them see how happy and how proud I am of them, and they never know that I do suffer inside.  And you know what?  I got used to it.  I can cry.  I can cry in public.  I can cry in my room.  And the way I see it, I look weak because I can cry so easily.  But when I think about the load I used to carry - the load that no one saw me carry, I was strong.  And I am proud to admit that.

Call it pride, but truth be told, what hurts the most is when they don't listen, and that could only mean that they don't care about what I have to say.  It's just an emotional roller coaster for me, extra baggage I don't need and let me tell you.  While I do not mind being taken for granted, doesn't mean I like it.  

Something I have to learn for myself: Sometimes, the last resort is to not care, because you know what?  No one even said you should!  Trust me on that.

Nov. 4th, 2012

This is my grown-up Christmas list.

I noticed that I've been writing serious entries, so, here's a light-hearted one, even if it makes me look like a selfish kid.  Christmas time is just around the corner and I just thought I would write a little about my wish list...even if I plan on getting these things before then.

1.  I have always been an avid fan of photography.  My digital camera is missing.  I know I left it in the Philippines.  It's probably in the drawer next to my old bed along with some other junk.  I do remember getting it.  It was October and I planned an out-of-town trip with my friends. The night before we were set to leave, mom brought out a box, covered in Christmas wrapper and insisted I open it.  NO!  I grew up with the firm belief that Christmas gifts were to be opened on Christmas Day...and yes, I mean not even Christmas Eve.  Being an insomniac since I was eleven years old, I was the only one willing to do that probably, but waking up my brother to presents and food always did the trick in placing him back in the holiday spirit.  

Anyway, back to the story: Mom's face was just downright crushed when I didn't want to open her present two months early.  I didn't quite understand what the big deal was.  She only said, "You'll want to bring it with you on your trip."  Ah, temptation!  A big part of me knew that I would regret not opening that present, and so I gave in.  I pulled out the tape from either end of the the box - I was a firm believer in reusing wrapper as well, even if we usually ended up not using them again - and I unwrapped happiness and memories and art, all in one.  That was joy right there.

I did prize that thing throughout high school.  I took it to school events, prom and grad ball, took pictures of our intramural competitions, tennis tournaments, you name it!  But when I moved up to college, so began the DSLR age and my digital camera seemed second class, maybe even third class next to theirs.  Everyone brought a camera and, their shots were better than mine.  Who needed that thing anymore?  So, I kept it, and rarely ever took it out again.

So, this semester in school, I am taking a photography class and am reigniting the passion for photography.  I believe I've waited long enough.  I could have bought my DSLR camera months and months ago, but did not feel the need to - yes, even while taking that photography class.  Now is my time to show the beauty and pain that I see from my eyes to the world...

2.  Since moving to the US, I believe about four versions of the iPhone have been released - four versions in a span of two years.  I have read online about children whining about their parents because they weren't given the latest.  Rest assured, I am not going to be one of them.  My plan is to get a cellphone that will actually work: the kind that sends and receives text messages and calls, and the kind that won't restart on me only for me to not get any messages.  Trust me, this has placed me in so many bad positions in the past, things that I will not delve into right now.  Point is, as materialistic as it may be, I just need a new phone.

3.  SIMS 3!  Oh my goodness, I loved loved loved that game!  During the summer, I would sit my lazy butt in front of the computer and play!  I would just get up to eat lunch and head back to the game.  The parents would get so angry at the fact that we would play until the wee hours of the morning - obviously, the PC was in their room.  I had my headphones on, but you could hear the clicks of the mouse, and see the brightness of the screen - and maybe even the laughter when we decided to find different ways to kill the Sim.  Of course, we wouldn't save it, and they'd be alive the next time we started the game again.  Well, now, from what I hear, I can't play around with that little "play with death" thing anymore, but that doesn't matter.  I want to play god! *insert evil laugh*  Huh.  I caught the irony.

4.  A trip to back home would be nice.  This one is highly unlikely, but a girl can dream, can't she?  I don't look forward to the heat and I don't look forward to the traffic.  But there is just something about Christmas in the Philippines like no other.  Seeing the parol, lighting the sidewalks as early as now.  People waking up at dawn for Misa de Gallo which I have never completed myself.  Kids just singing outside the door in very off-key versions of classic Christmas carols along with their "Thank you!  Thank you! Ang babait ninyo, thank you!" songs after you tip them.  Noche Buena and five other meals in a day, followed by the usual complaints that "I gained so much weight over the break!"  Guilty!  And, my favorite, hearing Christmas music run from October to February.  Christmas is five months long.  Who else would do that?

5.  A boyfriend.  Again, a girl can dream, can't she?  Hahaha!

Feb. 7th, 2011


For all those who are in college now, or even those who graduated already:

Remember the moment you felt in your heart what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?  Remember the day you made the decision as to where you would go for college?  In fact, remember the day you got the results from the colleges and universities that you applied to, which told you whether you got in or not?  Actually, remember much further when you decided to apply to certain schools?

I do.

I remember how I fought with my parents because I wanted to go against their will and take Psychology in Ateneo.  Despite such disagreements, they ended up supporting me.  I wanted to go to med school.  If I didn't go to med school, I had a back-up.  I wanted to be a psychoanalyst for juvenile delinquents.  Yes, I don't know why, but that's what I wanted to do.  Everything had a plan and a back-up plan.  I was never much of a planner.  I'm really one of the "go with the flow" kind of people, but when it's my life, I make a plan.

Suddenly, before I could graduate from college, my family had to migrate to the United States.  All my plans were shattered.  Not that they were completely, but it would all become a product of chance.  What I would do for the rest of my life would be dependent on where I would go for college.  Finishing college would be dependent on whether or not I got a scholarship.  I even asked my mom, "Do I have a choice?"  And she too said, "No."  I didn't.

In the meantime, I had to do something.  I decided to take a phlebotomy class and you know what?  I realized I didn't like it.  It only took one lecture to make me realize that I would not like it.  I wanted to sway my future away from routine, because that's the kind of person I am.  I repeat, I do not like planning.  Routine is planning.  Phlebotomy, as exciting as it may sound, is nothing but routine.  Why did I want to be a doctor?  It's because I would be dealing with different cases.  Why would I want to become a psychoanalyst?  It's because I would be talking to different people.  Why would I prefer being an attendant to kids?  It's because they are excited to learn about new things.  Why would I prefer being a baker?  I don't know.  I just like food.

My point is that I cannot change the decision to take phlebotomy because we already paid for it.  From the moment I heard the first lecture, I sensed it.  Tubes that had to be filled in a certain order.  A certain order determined by the color of the tube tops.


I want my life back.  I have no control over it anymore.  I'm granted the opportunity of a lifetime but what opportunity is this that I have if I am enslaved by chance?  Others have it worse than I do, that's for sure.  I just wish I could see that.

Aug. 26th, 2010


Pakibigay na muna ng kakaunting pasensya habang binabasa ang tekstong ito dahil hindi ako magaling magsalita o magsulat sa wikang Filipino, ngunit ginagawa ko ito upang alamin ninyo na kayo ang kinakausap ko.

Maraming pangyayaring dinaranas natin bilang taong Pilipino sa ating kasaysayan.  Nakaranas tayo ng kahirapan at sakit sa ilalim ng mga Kastila, Amerikano, Hapon at tuluyan tayong naghihirap sa ilan nating kapwa-Pilipino.

Noong Lunes, iba naman ang nangyari.  Tayo ang nagbigay sakit sa mga mulang Hong Kong.  Alam ko na hindi lahat ng Pilipino ay gaya ni Rolando Mendoza.  Kahit naghihirap tayo dito sa Pilipinas, kakaunti lamang sa atin ang nagiging kasing desperado ni Mendoza, kahit na ang dami-dami nating nakikitang negatibong balita sa dyaryo, radyo at telebisyon.  Kahit ito ang imahe ng Pilipinas - mga purong naghihirap, mga kumokontra sa batas - mga  iilan lamang sila sa milyong-milyong tao dito.  Ngunit, dahil sa mga nakikita nating balita, ang sarili nating pananaw sa Pilipinas ay na masama tayong tao.  Hindi!  Ito ay tinatawag nating SENSATIONALISM...at isang halimbawa nito ay ang pagbibigay halaga sa masamang pangyayari.  Mabuti nalang na ang GMA ay may "Good News" at "Kapusong Totoo" parte ng 24 Oras.  Hanggang SECTION na lamang ba ng kabuuang balita ang mabuting balita?

Oo, nangyari ang "hostage situation" doon sa Quirino Grandstand.  Kung pinanood ninyo ang mga pangyayari doon, hindi ba nakakahiya na ang daming palpak na stratehiya ang PNP upang iligtas ang mga biktima?  Hindi ba nakakahiya na ang mga halatang solusyon sa pagligtas ng mga biktima ay hindi alam ng PNP?  Hindi ba nakakahiya na nang binaril si Mendoza ay naging usisero ang mga Pilipino bago ginawang "secure" ang paligid?  Bago inilabas ang mga biktima sa bus?  Inuna ang mga Pilipino ang PAGTINGIN sa bus, na ilang minuto pa lamang ang nagdaan ay punung-puno ng karahasan, kalungkutan, at takot?  At habang naroon ang mga Pilipino, ang bus na iyon ay punung-puno na ng kamatayan?  HINDI BA IYAN NAKAKAHIYA?  Wala naman silang ginawa kundi manood at naging sagabal sa PNP, SWAT at medic, at lalo na sa pagligtas sa mga turista.

Napakarami na ang kritisismo na nakarating sa Pilipinas tungkol sa pag-"handle" ng sitwasyon noong araw na iyon mula sa iba't-ibang bansa, tapos ang dami-dami pa nating dahilan kung bakit palpak ang pagligtas: kulang sa armas, kulang sa kagamitan, KULANG SA TRAINING.  Alam na dapat nila na kulang sila sa training.  Hindi ba nila nakikita ang balita?  PURO NEGATIBO!  PURO MAY NASASAKTAN!  PURO MAY UMIIYAK!  Kung nanonood sila, dapat alam nila ang kakulangan bilang taga-protekta ng ating bansa, ngunit wala.  Maari naman silang humingi ng tulong mula sa ibang bansa!  Ang lapit-lapit naman ng Hong Kong!  Kung ganoon, hindi lahat ay umaasa sa mga Pilipino, mga kulang sa training at mga usisero.

Dinadagdagan lang natin ng dayap ang mga sugat na nagmula sa pangyayaring ito.  Kung tumingin tayo sa internet, napakarami nang nagagalit sa Pilipino - hindi lamang dahil sa nangyari, ngunit pati na rin sa mga tuluyan nating ginagawa.  Parang ang manhid natin eh!  Ginawang TOURIST SPOT ang bus, mga estudyante, mga dumadaan lamang, mga PNP!  Ang dami-daming larawan na inilagay sa internet - na may kasamang ngiti.  Wala ba tayong malasakit at awa sa nangyari?

Mahiya tayong lahat.  Ipinagmamalaki ang karamihan sa atin ang pagiging Pilipino, ngunit, ano ba talaga ang pinagmamalaki natin?  Ang pangyayaring "hostage situation" kung saan maraming namatay o nasaktan?  Baka nakakalimutan natin na may mga pamilya rin sila, at may ilan sa kanila ay nawala na ng kapamilya dahil sa pangyayaring iyon.

Alam na natin ang ating kakulangan bilang taong Pilipino.  Alam din natin na higit na marami sa atin ay mabubuting tao (at wala ako sa kategorya ng mas mabuting tao).  Kaya humihingi tayo ng tawad mula sa Hong Kong.  Ngunit, paano ba nila tayo ipapatawad kung ako man lamang ang nahihirapang magpatawad ang Pilipino (at ako ay kasama rito)?  Hindi lamang dahil hindi tayo si Rolando Mendoza ay wala tayong kasalanan.

Jul. 12th, 2010


Is it coincidence that today, during Philosophy class, we talked about the term "sayang"?

Last Saturday, I went with my parents to work.  We rode the van to Salcedo and when we got there, I brought down the bag of essentials for the shop.  I noticed on the floor, a single peso coin.  I didn't think much on it, but maybe it fell out of my brother's pocket or something.  When my dad and I left Salcedo so that he could bring me to the MRT station, I saw it again, when I got my bag.  Of course it would be there.  No one would get it.  I didn't, and I'm the one who noticed it.  Whatever.

Today, we brought the van to Makati - something out of the ordinary because unless it's coding, we always bring the car.  Well, the parents said they had to pick up a bunch of big stuff, so again, I didn't think much on the bringing the van faction of the day.  Until I got to the LRT station.  You probably can see where this is going.

Whenever I get to the LRT station in Cubao (on my way to school), I always bring out money for the tricycle.  Besides the bill that was "buo" as given by my mom as "baon" in my wallet, I had P24.  Guess how much the trike trip to Ateneo costs.  P25.  Because I wasn't willing to walk to school because I'd end up being stinky and sweaty and late for class anyway, I decided to buy a drink, just so I get the P1 I needed for that trike ride.  Extra hassle - a few minutes late for class - and a lot more change than what I needed.  Worth it?  All for P1.

The peso I found in the van's floor was "sayang".  I could have used it, but I didn't.

Yes, the "sayang" I'm talking about is different from the "sayang" we talked about in Philosophy wherein we waste away our potential, wherein we do not try to be the best that we can be.  We can talk about "sayang" when we remember Ateneo losing to FEU by 3 points - after a good game, but a bad ending (for the Atenean, of course) - or Netherlands being so close to winning the World Cup, but lost by that one single goal that Spain had been able to make, or even in most common way, in not finishing food.

In the end, "sayang" is not the waste that we commonly use that term.  It's the wasted opportunity.  It's the "coulda, shoulda, woulda" but didn't.  I'm sure Ateneo and Netherlands gave their all - or maybe what they believed was their all.  I know for a fact that pressure crumbles the spirit.  I fell into that trap, and I watched the Celtics fall in there as well.

My experience with the peso may seem shallow as compared to such events - competing against my friend for the gold and leading by 3 games, only to lose it, is something I haven't forgiven myself for.  But how many wasted opportunities am I willing to go through before seeing that I am blessed!

Last night, during the mass, my choirmate was given her first solo.  She was really scared and kept shaking even during practice.  What did I tell her?  "OWN IT!"  This is your life, your moment.  God's giving it to you.  Don't be afraid to take the chance.  Not anymore.

Jul. 5th, 2010

Toy Trains

You won't find the Filipino people being truly themselves until you ride the MRT or LRT.  Being in the face of adversity is a different thing - when one considers the People Power Revolution that occurred in the 1980's and again in the early 2000's.  We, Filipino people, take pride in these moments in history, especially the first one, where we stood in the crowded of streets.  The EDSA is one of the main avenues of the Metro Manila, connecting several cities, connecting the people for one purpose.

Another thing that connects these cities is the MRT.  Thousands of people ride this train or shall we say transit, daily.  I, for one, ride it as well to get to school and back.  Now here's how it works: the transit is divided into three carts.  The first cart is reserved for women, children, elders and those with disabilities, while the other two carts are free-for-all.

This is my third year to ride the MRT, and because my parents are conservative, insist on me riding the first cart unless a boy accompanies me going home.  With the six stops that separate the Ayala Station (where I get on) to the Araneta-Cubao Station (where I get off), I use this time to either catch up with homework or to discreetly study the people around me.  I have had my share of strange experiences in the MRT, and so has my sister who took it to go to school back when she was studying and now that she's working in GMA, which is next to the rightfully named GMA-Kamuning Station.  One of the most notable experiences were (in the first cart) a threesome make-out session was going on - yes, threesome...three very lesbian (or possibly bisexual?) girls.  Mine wasn't as out-of-the-ordinary, but definitely things occur that are worth laughing about.  Not that I am a negative or a pessimistic person, but there is almost always something to say when you talk about the MRT ride - but not everything worth sharing because it is the same thing over and over and over again. 

They say that when you want to get on the elevator, you have to let the people inside come out before stepping in because it has limited person capacity.  You will simply clog the doorway and no one can get on because no one can get off.  Why that logic cannot reach into the minds of the commuters, I cannot comprehend.  I was commuting with my friends one time and the train was already full.  We tried to step to the side to let the people inside come out, but instead of that happening, we were pretty much carried - not pushed, CARRIED - into the cart.  These were ladies - could you possibly still call them ladies after that endeavor? - mind you.  There were times when I was actually scolded for not moving, when I stationed myself towards the front and tried to hold my ground so I could hold back the stampede for those leaving the train.

When inside, the women are ruthless in grabbing the seats.  Rarely do they stand to let the pregnant ladies, the older men and women, the children, and some would get angry or bad-mouth the man on the wheelchair who takes up so much space.  I have labeled certain characters on the MRT as such, quite self-explanatory.

CLINGERS:  There are vertical bars that allow passengers to hold on to as the train moves.  If people surround that bar and hold on, perhaps, it could reach five persons holding on.  What happens then when one embraces and clings on that bar for dear life?  We see some lose their balance and falling on others who are kind enough to "catch" them - not like they had a much of a choice really.

LEANERS:  Another incident is people POSSIBLY being extra-hygienic leaning on the sides of the benches therefore intruding with the sitter's position and a total invasion of personal space because the part of the leaner's body that you touch?  None other than their butt. 

RUBBERS:  Speaking of total invasion of privacy, when commuters fill up the aisle and hold on to the hanging straps, many leave so much space between them and the bench before them and crossing what I like to visualize as the middle line - or if I want to go all scientific, the sagittal plane that divides the body into the left and the right side.  Personally, I am a person who loves personal space.  I distort my sitting position so a leaner wouldn't shove her butt into my face.  Standing up, the worst a person could do is allow her butt to rub against mine.  I look like an idiot moving my hips slightly forward just so I get my personal space back.  Good thing I have a bag to hide that awkward position.  Minor yet similar instances are those who poke or nudge me with their oversize bags.

And this is the first cart - where all the "ladies", elders, children and disabled may escape from the entropy occurring in the two other carts!  If you ask me, I'd much prefer to stay in the back.  There is the same pushing into the cart, but I see and feel more civility.  Men already sitting stand up to accommodate the lady (at times), but better yet, men will not sit until all the ladies have sat.  Maybe I'm a girl and that's why the back appeals to me more - because they actually give consideration to the girl.

They have their flaws.  I was with my cousin once.  We were standing up and there men and women who were seated.  The person in front of me stood to get off so it gave me the right to settle down - and more often than not, I do not hesitate.  My cousin insisted that I sit and so I did, but upon the sight of an old lady entering, I called her and invited her to take my seat.  She gave me a blessing.  Why did the girl do that?  Why not the man?  When the person next to her stood to take his leave, she hurried me to take that seat before anyone else would.

So, that is the MRT.  Could it be the Filipino people?  Somehow it is difficult to see them any other way.  You see them in their environment.  You see them in public - and to think people ought to be more demure in such situations.  You feel the desperation to get away.  You see the selfishness and the inconsideration for others.  You see people pushing others to have their way.  Certainly, these are NOT in any way individuals.  There are those I have argued with to take the seat, but we leave each other with a smile.  There are stations where there are not many people waiting to get on the transit and therefore allow those inside to come out before entering. 

We may be proud to know how we were able to be and how we could be one as a people in People Power Revolution in EDSA.  But besides that, could we be one people in normal circumstances - in the little moments that we believe do not count?

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