Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Endangered Chivalry

Last Nov. 29, when the dear President of JDV Jr. declared the imposition of a curfew, I was one of the thousands of commuters who were rushing home to beat the 12 o'clock curfew. From the office, I went to the MOA terminal, thinking that very few people would be waiting in line for the collorum vans to Dasmarinas, Cavite. I was wrong! The line was not only long, it was very long. From my estimate, it would take at least five vans (with a seating capacity of 14 people), for me to be able to get a ride. I waited in line for 30 minutes, but alas, no van came. So I tried my luck at the other terminal to Cavite. The route is only up to Imus, and I would need to take another ride to Dasma, but I didn't mind it because all I wanted was to get to any part of Cavite before 12 midnight. Well, it turned out that there were no vans as well, and the line was longer.

So, I went back to Pasay Rotonda where there is a bus terminal for Cavite and Batangas. Holy cow, the people waiting in line looked like they have grown roots already. I asked one commuter how long he has been there and he told me, "An hour." Wow, nice. I never thought I would be able to get home.

Somebody said, "Mahuhuli na tayo dahil sa curfew." Another answered, " Hindi. Sa dami nating nasa kalsada ngayon na stranded, hindi na tayo kayang hulihin ng pulis. Hindi na nila alam kung san tayo ikukulong." The people who heard it, laughed aloud. (This is one reason I am so proud of my Filipino heritage- we never forget how to laugh even if we're facing difficulties!).

After ten years (I thought it was more like twenty years!), a bus finally arrived. It was full already but the conductor was still encouraging passengers to get in and stand on the aisle. "Kasya pa ang sabit," he called. I jumped in and tried to squeeze my butt and my bulging tummy, along the aisle. I am seven moths on the way, but I preferred to ride the bus and get home, than get stuck in Manila and get caught by those OA police for violating the curfew. Home is better than the precint for the angel in my tummy, I thought.

I said I was proud to be a Filipino a while ago, but while standing in the bus and enduring the almost three hour traffic jam to Cavite, without anybody offering me his or her seat the whole time, I felt so sorry for the modern Filipino. I felt sorry because in spite of our hospitality, the modern Filipino has forgotten all about chivalry.

I never expected anybody to offer me a seat. I only hoped somebody would offer to get my bag or any of my two oversized plastic bags that I was carrying, not because I am a woman, but because I was pregnant. Nobody did. They looked as if they pitied me, but that was all there was to it. Was it because these people were tired that they wanted to be comfortable on their way home? Or was it because we now have this gender equality issue amongst us? Or was it because traffic was really bad that they don't want to sacrifice being uncomfortable on their seats with one of my big plastic bags on their feet?

This made me think of the numerous times I have offered my seat to elderly people who were standing on the bus; of the times I offered my lap to children who I can't bear to see standing on the bus; of the times I offered to carry someone's baggage for someone while he/she is standing on the bus. I knew this isn't much, but seeing the gratitude on their faces felt like I gave them a free ride.

Why couldn't the people, who were with me on that terrible bus ride two weeks ago, do that? There was an elderly woman who was on that bus as me and no one offered her a seat too.

Are we just plastic? We are hospitable in our homes, but inhospitable outside?Or have we just started prioritizing our own comfort instead of thinking of others? Whatever the reason I've just got one thing in my mind--- there's a great lack of Filipino gentlemen nowadays. :(