My first ordeal with Manila’s public transportation occurred after 3 hours arriving in Manila. I took directions from Ella, the guesthouse’s front person on how to go to Intramuros by taking public transport. While she explained, I took main points on how to reach Intramuros from Makati Avenue.
Main points as noted in my travellogue are as follows:-
1. Go to the main street turn right until you reach Petron Gasoline Station;
2. Take a jeepney – LRT – train station;
3. Take a train – UN Avenue;
4. UN Avenue – Look for Rizal Park;
5. From Rizal Park …….;
7. Guadalupe – Pacific Star.
The missing points were a good example of lack of concentration due to fatigue.
I had my yellow waterproof bag with me and I excitedly sauntered the main street, Makati Ave. I had my travellogue inside my bag and I was too lazy to bring it out. With much confidence, I took left upon reaching the main street. While snapping pictures especially the garishly coloured jeepneys, I was honked by the jeepneys’ drivers asking where I wanted to go. Heeding to my mother’s advice, I did not respond! Until I realized the gasoline station (petrol station) was way too far for 10 minutes walk, I stopped a passer-by to ask. True enough, I misdirected myself.
At that time, I was equipped with my camera shooting the surrounding of Makati Ave.
After 20 minutes walk, I reached Petron gasoline station. And ladies and gentlemen, the survival games are about to begin. No one had told me I had to literally chase for my jeepney. No one had told me I had to wait for a long time before I could ride a jeepney. No one had told me dozens of people were waiting by the street for the jeepneys. I learned so much about jeepneys that day.
Jeepneys were first introduced when the US army jeeps left behind during the World War II was recycled to public transportation. They swept the Philippines with pop art on the wheels phenomenon. No jeepneys will be allowed to ply naked through the streets of Manila by its owner. Dressing or appearance of the jeepneys is seemingly an utmost importance to the owner.
I was completely lost and I allowed 15 minutes to pass before I joined the crowd to stop, run and hop on the jeepney. Different jeepneys head to different places. You need to know where you will be heading. Mine was LRT and I was confident about my destination until I saw MRT. Until then, I had not seen any signs on LRT. I could only see MRT sign. I could have heard it wrongly due to the dialect. I better played safe by asking then getting lost since I did not have much time in Manila. So I asked a lady and she confirmed it was LRT.
I had to be practical, I said to myself. If I were to wait rather passively, I will go nowhere but the gasoline station. If I were to act like a Pinoy, it will bring me to my destination. Language is a major problem though! The fact that I speak English exposed myself to dangerous scammers and ill-willed person who were looming Manila. The woman who was standing beside me pointed out to an empty jeepney heading to LRT. I thanked her and quickly ran after the jeepney.
I managed to secure a seat, two seats away from the open exit. My hand slipped into my money bag to find Php8 in order to pay the fare, and only to find the smallest change of Php20. Seating at the other end of the jeepney, I was somewhat sure that the balance would never find its way to me. I watched as the passengers started to pass the fare to the next person sitting to them and it went on until it reached the driver. The driver would then passed the balance the same way it came. Amazing as it was, I received my balance Php12 in exact amount.
Since LRT was the last stop, all passengers disembarked and I was left at the side of the road not knowing where to go. I followed the flow of the crowd and stopped at the nearby stall selling pork kebab for direction. He told me to walk straight and turn left and then find a staircase which will lead to the LRT station.
As I took the flight of staircase, I noticed a long queue before safety check-point. As I neared the point, I was asked to open my bag which I did and was subjected to body pat. I paid the train fare which was Php12 from Gil Puyat to UN Avenue. Like in many countries, there were separate cabins for men and women. The train moved like Malaysian LRT. Fast and prompt.
Once I reached UN Avenue, it was another jam-packed area I wished I could get my direction right. Not knowing where to go, I walked aimlessly in the hope to find Tourism Department or JP Rizal Park. And again, to no avail. I asked the stall owner how can I go to Intramuros and was asked to walk to the other side of the road and find a jeepney with “Pier” sign. And so I noted I was in Kalaw.
I hopped on the jeepney and was dropped at the mossy entrance of Intramuros. Intramuros is the walled city used during Spanish colonial period located along Manila bay. It now centre of administration for the Philippines.