Memoirs of a Philippine Mongerer
Angeles here I come.
Waking up to the sound of someone banging on your door is at best disconcerting and most of the time alarming. And for me this was definitely alarming. All sorts of paranoid thoughts entered my mind, ‘oh no maybe it’s the police again’, maybe I did something wrong in one of my recent benders , maybe someone I know has had an accident etc, etc. With only 3 hours sleep and a throbbing head I gingerly opened the door only to be confronted by Wally’s smiling face, and him saying, “come on mate it’s past nine and time to hit the road for Angeles”.
Shit I thought to myself, I had completely forgotten we were supposedly traveling to Angeles today and I was meant to meet him downstairs for a pre traveling breakfast. My disheveled tired appearance must have tipped Wally that I was in no condition to travel and luckily for me he was an understanding sort of bloke, so after seeing the condition I was in, Wally simply said, “looking at you mate you ain’t traveling anywhere any time soon and I gotta go coz AC is calling mate. You get some sleep mate and I will leave instructions on how to get to AC and where to stay with the front desk” With that said he gave me one last disparaging look, shook his head and proceeded to walk down the hallway.
At first I was kind of tempted to call him back and say, ‘give me 20 minutes to get ready’, but then my head started thumping again and waves of tiredness were overtaking me, so I thanked my lucky stars Wally was so understanding, shut the door, and climbed back into bed with Lisa.
I must have slept for at least five hours because when I woke up the second time I was remarkably refreshed and feeling ready for my next adventure. Lisa was still blissfully snoozing so I decided to grab a shower pack my stuff and begin heading towards Angeles. I made my way to the shower room and as the scolding hot water hit me I closed my eyes and enjoyed a moment of solitude.
I have always enjoyed a hot shower and to be honest I have found many of my best ideas are generated while relaxing in a hot water shower. I closed my eyes and let the water cascade all over me when I heard the bathroom door open and my reverie was interrupted by a pair of soft wet lips engulfing my manhood.
Pleasantly surprised I opened my eyes and there was Lisa sucking on my rapidly hardening penis like there was no tomorrow. Now I was in seventh heaven a hot shower and a blow job at the same time. This was the life and once again I silently congratulated myself on my decision to stay in the Philippines.
After another steamy round in the bathroom Lisa and I both got dressed and with me grabbing my rucksack we made our way down to the hotel reception. I said goodbye to Lisa slipped her 500 piso, picked up the traveling instructions Wally had left me, checked my spare baggage into the Mayfair’s storage area and proceeded to make my way to the Pasay Victory liner bus station.
By this time I was getting quite used to utilizing public transport. I had asking the taxi drivers to turn on their meter, down to an art form, I knew the major arterial roads and was even vaguely familiar with the geographical position of some of the Manila suburbs. However, despite how much you are knowledgeable about your surroundings, traveling in Manila is always an adventure, and one can never get totally used to the living conditions some of the poor endure.
The trip to Pasay from Ermita was only short since they are neighboring suburbs but negotiating the back streets in that taxi as he made his way to the Victory liner bus station was a chilling experience. It was just beginning to get dark yet there was still enough light to see the look of hostility and sometimes naked hatred in the peoples eyes. Admittedly these looks were also mixed with the cheerful laughter of kids playing and the tantalizingly inviting smiles of the Filipinas as they would give passersby that furtive and slightly coy look which hinted at the promise of unbounded sexual delights.
After what seemed like a maze of back streets we arrived at the Victory Liner bus terminal where I unloaded my gear, paid the driver and then as he drove off I looked around and thought to myself, “oh shit what have I gotten myself in for here”. Traveling by public transport is always a risky proposition especially when in a foreign country but it is also a great way to see aspects of a country or a culture that otherwise would be hidden from you. For me the traveling by public transport was an adventure as it offered me a chance to experience Filipino culture and Filipino society, first hand.
Coming from Australia I was used to quality coaches with proper exhaust systems but in Manila exhaust fumes and the resultant smog are a fact of life. Black smoke belching busses are seen as being part of life in Manila and in the bus station it was particularly bad since it was undercover and the exhaust fumes just stayed trapped in the building. Rather than turn off the engines, drivers would just leave the engine running letting the fumes build up with the result of making travelers feel that they had just walked into a poisonous gas oven.
Public transport depots are always crowded but in Manila to call them crowded is an understatement, they are jam packed like sardines in a can and these crowded conditions are then made even worse by the ever present grey haze of exhaust fumes. I made my way through the milling crowd, keeping my back pack in front of me and gently yet purposefully using it to push and prod my way through the crowd who were scrambling to get ion board a b us. Eventually I made my way to what looked like the ticket sellers booth, stood in line for five minutes and then when it was my turn asked for a ticket to Angeles, Dau.
After procuring the ticket I asked the lady how do I know which bus to take and she replied, “look to Dau sign” and then as if that explained it all looked beyond me towards the next waiting customer. I moved aside and as I pondered her meaning “look to Dau sign” a large coach pulled up and their on the right hand side prominently displayed was the sign saying Dau. The sign registered in my brain and I knew this must be the bus that takes me to Angeles. I made my way towards the bus but even before it had stopped completely there was a crowd of people all pushing and jostling to get on board. For me the pushing and jostling was not such a problem because I was larger than 90% of Filipinos and as such never really felt threatened but the safety factor aside, it was all I could do not to just grab some of the rude bastards and pull them back by the scruff of their necks. This experience at the bus station reminded me of the pictures of train stations in India, not quite as bad in terms of the number of people but as far as the pushing and jostling were concerned, it was exactly the same.
By the time I had pondered all that was going on the bus with the Dau sign had filled up and the doors were closing. Darn I thought to myself, this standing in line being polite doesn’t get you anywhere in this country so the next bus I see I am going to push like everybody else and make sure I get on otherwise I am going to be stuck here waiting all night. I must have waited another twenty minutes before another bus with a Dau sign came by and quite unceremoniously I pushed my way through the crowd and embarked on the bus. The inside of the bus was actually quite modern it had air-conditioning vents, a TV monitor that showed videos and the seats were actually large enough to fit the average foreigner rather than being built for the smaller framed Filipinos. I chose a seat as near to the front as I could get reasoning that if I got lost I could always ask the driver to inform me when we are nearing Dau.
The bus sat in the terminal for at least twenty minutes during which time the driver switched on Filipino radio which of course was far to loud and constituted a blathering of tagalog which I had no comprehension of. The radio was also accompanied by various vendors selling everything from bottled water and juices through to peanuts and quail eggs. I don’t know if it is just me but since I was the only foreigner on the bus it seemed like they singled me out and some of these blokes just wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was almost like I was expected to purchase something because I was a foreigner or maybe it was just some kind of bemusement because they had only seen a very limited number of foreigners traveling by bus before . Whatever it was these guys became quite persistent and it was all I could do to keep my cool and politely state that I declined to buy any of their goods. I have since learned to take a girl with me and let her do the talking but this was my first bus trip and the vendor pressure was all part of my learning experience.
The bus trip to Angeles was interesting. As we drove through Manila it was already dark but I got some revealing glimpses of this city albeit from the safety of a Victory bus liner. The thing about Manila is everywhere you look there is people, people and more people. Whether they be driving cars, queuing up for a jeepney, or just wandering the streets with hands stretched out dressed in soiled rags and with vacant expressions in their eyes, it is always about the people, the mass of humanity and the ever increasing level of pollution are indeed hallmarks of Manila one of Asia’s oldest capital cities.
The trip through Manila took about two hours and that was not because of the distance but rather because of the seemingly endless traffic jam that moved at a snails pace. As is the rule in most Asian countries he who is bigger wins so the bus will normally hold sway over the cars but when it comes to traffic jams like this no amount of size makes any difference.
The seats on the bus whilst comparatively new were not exactly comfortable and sometimes I found myself with my knees huddled against my chest. After leaving Edsa road the bus proceeded down what is now NLEX but at that time was little more than a two lane highway with potholes the size of moon craters every half mile. The trip on the Northern Expressway was comparatively uneventful and I found myself marveling at how quickly this bus could travel once wound up. Along the way the bus would pull over to the side of the road leaving some people to exit and others to hop on board including vendors mostly peanut sellers who would get on and off the bus in the middle of nowhere.
After about an hour the bus pulled over and the conductor announced Dau. This was my cue to get off so grabbing my rucksack from the overhead luggage rack I fell in line and exited the bus. I stepped of the bus and realized I was still on the main road. There was no sign of any town there was minimal light, it was beginning to drizzle, I was surrounded by Filipino’s jabbering away in Tagalog, and there I was stuck in the middle of nowhere without a friend or the slightest idea how I was going to find Angeles.