note: this is part of the "do something different (DSD)" series, which are tasks i need to complete for certification. since this one is travel related, it would be awesome to include it in my blog. the conversations are all done in filipino but i translated everything for this post.
obviously, this is something quite different to what i normal post because this is entirely urbanity. no trees, no water falls, no life-and-death situations, etc. there were big changes in my life recently and one of them is moving homes. from the very serene and oblivious south, i transferred myself to the busy and chaotic north. adjusting was way too hard for me. i spent 2 decades of my life in a laid-back place. living life in a city where every minute counts is quite stressful. time flies so fast i realised late that i did not even give myself time to explore the place.
for one to get acquainted in the city, the best person to look for is a cab driver. in our country where cab drivers are most of the time untrustworthy for cheesing extra money or for deliberate theft, this project is indeed risky especially for me at that time who brought along with me my valuables after spending an entire weekend with my parents at the south. nonetheless, i hailed a cab not minding of such risks. what i had in mind were 2 things: "carpe diem" and "whatever".
one cab driver stopped to pick me up within a few minutes. as soon as i settled myself at the back seat, i immediately asked mr cab driver, "how much is your boundary?" in our country, a boundary is the monetary quota a driver needs to commit to his operator by the end of his shift. he responded in a very jolly way, "1500 pesos ma'am! are you paying for my entire day?" chuckles, and then says, "i'm just joking! where are we going?" his manner gave me enough confidence that i will be able to execute this project properly since mr cab driver is very welcoming and an extrovert. i responded in my happiest and sincerest way, "yes, i will. but in one condition." surprised at my answer, he chuckled again and asked, "really? what am i going to do?" "take me to a place where you want to hang out. don't bring me to a mall or a famous tourist destination. just some place a normal cab driver wants to spend his time."
"that's quite difficult, ma'am! i don't know where you want to go!" he said. "well, you're the driver and i'm doing things differently. instead of me telling you where i want to go, bring me to a place where you want to go!" i said. "hmmm.. ok then! but please move to the front seat so we can talk better." he replied.
after squeezing my way from the passenger seat to the front seat (thank god the traffic lights were still red), we had some pleasantries. his nickname is "binggoy" and he doesn't want his picture taken for this project (just to make things clear). he told me that he's been driving his cab for 4 years already and his very happy with his current operator. he was with not so good operators before wherein one he only worked for 6 months because he could not tolerate his arrogant boss' behaviour. at his current operator, he says, he gets generous bonuses from his bosses (a filipino-japanese couple) and he enjoys some work-life balance activities such as sports fest and chess tournaments. "i see myself working here for the longest time. it's up to me if i'll slack off or work hard. i am happiest here."
prior to working as a cab driver, binggoy worked as a private driver in dubai. he went back after 2 years after he finished his contract. "i learned arabic fast because my boss gave me a book. i also learned from talking to many arabs." then he said something which hits the topic of our dsd, "when you talk to people, you will eventually learn new things. i never expected myself to speak fluent arabic in my 2 years of stay." "that's actually the point of this assignment, binggoy," i replied back. "i need to talk to you to learn something. i am practically new to the north. i just moved last month." and to think, i can just cheat on this project by submitting photos more interesting than cab ride photos and invent a story. however, if i do that, the only person i'd be cheating on is myself because i would learn nothing.
|a "fifty shades" themed motel room ad|
after struggling in rush hour, binggoy told me he will bring me to a place called "kapitolyo". deep inside i irked for a bit because it's a place for some elite people to hang out and there's almost nothing for me to see than fancy restaurants and bars. "honestly, i can't think of a place where to bring you. if i take you to a place where i really hang out, i'm not sure if you'll like it," he said. "it's ok, just take me there. i want to see that place."
he said he'll bring me to c6. it's a small place where most cab drivers and motorcycle riders hang out for meals or just to watch the sunrise or sunset. it's also a place where kite runners go to flaunt their kites during the months of january to february. "i hope we see kite runners today," binggoy said. i never thought there'll be a place such as this one in a highly urbanised manila. i told him to skip kapitolyo and go there instead.
en route c6 was a large strip of small time bars and motels flashing their low hourly rates. out of curiosity i asked if he ever brought clients to prostitution clubs. of course, i got a yes. in fact, he said, it's an additional source of income for them. for example, if a client goes to a certain bar and books women, the cab driver gets a commission per head. "per head" meaning for every woman the client books for the night. if a prostitute costs 3000 pesos per booking, the cab driver takes 1000 pesos. he also gets commissions when the client orders drinks. "you see at night, no one cares about how the women looks especially the foreigners. if the prostitute is lucky, she'll get married to a foreigner and be out of prostitution." according to binggoy, a foreigner friend of his has been wanting to meet a wife in our country because his friend married one. he only promised her financial security.
|the cab driver who doesn't want his picture taken|
it was almost sunset when we arrived at c6. it's not a well-developped park as what i had in mind but basically it's a vacant land near the bay turned unofficial park by public vehicle drivers. at the side of the road, you will see cabs, jeepneys, and motorcycles parked. there were also small stores nearby which sell food and clothes. i bought myself some quail eggs in saffron breading called, "kwek kwek" for only 10 pesos while binggoy only settled for a bottle of water.
|one huge kite|
|an unexpected buddy|
the place is very serene. the sound of children laughing is very rejuvenating and the sunset is breathtaking. we were lucky to spot kite runners as well. however, this is not the place my mother would want to take me for safety reasons. most of the people hanging out here are members of the so-called "under-privileged" classes. i'm not saying that i didn't like the place because of them. in fact i am happy that they have a place like this to unwind and relax because they won't be accepted in posh places like kapitolyo or bgc. i could only hope that the big names in the real-estate industry would not acquire this place as this is the only peaceful place left in the very busy manila.
it was almost late when i decided for binggoy to drive me to my pad. as i type this, i can still sense the place in my thoughts. hopefully i could come back there in the next kite flying season to document the place well. i'll definitely bring a few friends with me as well.