I first encountered this hostage drama in MindyTV's Facebook status yesterday morning, dismissed it as another forgettable episode and went to bed to dream of happy dreams.

Before I dashed for work, I overheard TV anchor Ted Failon interviewing the hostage-taker. He repeatedly asked the latter what exactly would cease this all then the line went dead. I had no time to probe what's going on because, as always, I was running late. I had a bus to catch.

Photo from Laarni.

Little did I know the gravity of this hostage drama when I finally saw the TV coverage on the bus around 19:30. No other news was as newsworthy: there was no split screen, no commercial breaks, no other news segment. I felt the whole nation stopped dead on their tracks to tune in. Us passengers were completely silent, horrified, frustrated and, thanks to Mike Enriquez when he called Mel Tiangco as "Weng", momentarily humored.

So Rolando Mendoza was a dismissed police officer who wants to get reinstated by taking a bunch of innocent tourists from Hong Kong as hostages. Wow. Wait, isn't his case being reviewed already by the Ombudsman?

It was disappointing to witness the joined forces of the police and SWAT (now mockingly dubbed as Sobrang Wala Akong Training, Sugod. Wait. Atras. Tago!., among others) display incompetence (ex. overlooking the emergency exit) and cowardice (ex. taking 45 minutes, as per CNN, to get rid of the entrance door) to gun down one of their kind.

Photo source here.

When I landed in Libertad, I was doubly alert for and eager to hail the first LRT-Ayala bus to pass by. It's almost not about punctuality at work anymore; please let me know what's going on. Fortunately, the next bus was also tuned in but, due to the heavy rainfall, we initially had poor reception. I missed the part where the bus driver miraculously managed to break free and declared all passengers were already lifeless. Soon enough, the exchange of bullets took place, resulting to the actual demise of the poor victims. Apparently, the hostage-taker was also tuned in to the news, patiently waiting for the next clues.

By this time, I've reached my bus stop and braved the downpour. However, some stupid taxi driver sped by in front of me, throwing a huge amount of possibly dirty water on my tube dress and doll shoes. The long parade of vehicles made me ran back for cover. When the coast was clear, I ran as rapid as I could. I was grateful I didn't slip and fall headfirst or something. The sooner I reach the office, the better. It was getting too cold.

When I had my turn to log in, the biometrics won't even take my fingerprint. I didn't have any dry fabric to press on - my clothes, bag, handkerchief were like sponges. After a couple more attempts to log in, it went through. It was 20:38. So I was soaking wet, dehydrated, impatient for my turn for the dryer and aching to see the happy ending of this drama for the next 30 long minutes.

When I emerged from the comfort room around 21:10, the pantry was filled with equally concerned employees, tuned in to the coverage. To my shock, there was no mineral water available from both water dispensers that time. To my relief, this hair-raising incident was history.

It's about being condemned by the whole world in the present.

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For the nth time, this newbie was running late. The nerve, no?

The series of unfortunate events started when a fellow bus passenger from behind did an outcry upon the realization that her former seatmate stole her mobile phone. I didn't exactly hear her recollection of what happened but she mentioned the tall guy told her something and she reacted, "Bahala ka sa buhay mo!". The bus conductor was rather insensitive to this woman's issue; he'd just say "Di nga nagbayad yung tatlong iyon eh!" each time he'd go near the victim. Either that or his statement that the robbers' faces didn't register on his mind. We were rather impressed how smooth it was. He managed to fish for this well-hidden phone without even slashing the bag.

I was immediately possessed with paranoia. See, my shoulder bag's zipper was completely broken then, making my bag invitingly open for hold uppers. I was even carrying a huge amount of money that time for a major transaction the following day. Luckily, I survived the trip to my office without being harassed again or having cardiac arrest from extreme worry.

As influenced by what happened in the previous entry, I decided to take a long, brisk walk to the office. To my shock and consternation, a handful of commuters were climbing to the gate across the street. Wasn't that supposed to be unlocked as early as 20:00? It was already 20:25!

Scared of another injury, torn clothes and embarrassment that results after that, I opted to take the underpass. We all know that I'm no fast runner, especially when I was wearing a chic outfit (my batchmates said so). I was even carrying 2 bags that time, adding load to my consistently slow sprint. When I was half-way through, I caught sight of an college friend with his friends. I had no time for pleasantries, dude. Nod, nod, bye.

Then the heavens conspired to give me a heartbreaking encounter in the office. Actually, it was initially heart-racing then everything just fell apart. Sorry, kids, but I'm not yet ready to divulge what happened. Clue: crushie-related.

The ending? I logged in at 20:32. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!

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I was running late again. By 20:00, I already accepted the fact that it's another case of tardiness. Believe me, I tried to take a cab when I reached Libertad but the absence of such prompted me to take a bus instead. I heard a tiny voice that said I just might get lucky.

So the bus was already one block away from my bus stop in Paseo. I was still hopeful I can make it. All of a sudden, the loud uproar between the People of the Philippines vs. the bus conductor knocked me out of my supposedly undivided viewing of the deceased FPJ taking a plunge to the falls wearing his signature leather jacket and denim jeans. What the hell is going on?

A large number of passengers were trying to alight in this area. The bus conductor said it's a loading area to which the passengers countered they get to get off in this area every single night. But, as far as I know, the bus stops are in Crispa (sometimes they don't allow unloading in front of RCBC) then Paseo. So I found this dispute as unreasonable, just ignored the commotion and watched how FPJ outwitted the group of goons leaded by Max Alvarado. The silence didn't last long and the passengers were clamoring for a chance to exit again. I heard one of them pinpoint that it was taking them forever to move forward, trying to sweep passengers that were not there. I fished for my phone in my shoulder bag to check the time and realized I was really late for work. Oh, well.

Much to my relief, I managed to log in by 20:28. When I went to the comfort room to rinse and moisturize my face, I recognized the angry passengers as my tenured officemates. So they actually prefer to take a walk one block away to our building instead of a shorter walk from the next bus stop? It was initially weird for me, but the succeeding turn of events made me realize I was wasting about 5 minutes for bus drivers who insist to linger and take in too many passengers. But that probably deserves another blog entry.

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An innocent-looking high school kid interrupted my usual Monday reveries, inquiring what's our exact location. The name of the baranggay we were in momentarily escaped me and, forgive me for saying this, I blurted out, "Nalimutan ko ang title ng lugar na ito,". When my memory finally made a comeback, I told him we're then in Aniban. His follow-up question went, "Dadaan ba tayo ng Kalinisan Road?" I said yes, we're just a couple of minutes away.

When I can already see the popular establishments in Zapote Kalinisan like Jollibee and 7-Eleven, I called his attention and pointed to Zapote Kalinisan. He was immediately thankful. Then, he asked for Zapote Kabila. I explained he can take a jeep on the right side to reach Zapote Kabila. When he name-dropped Sogo and asked for the road that leads to Las Piñas, I got confused. Sogo is in Zapote Kalinisan, it's behind 7-Eleven. The road that leads to Las Piñas, however, is Zapote Kabila. He attempted to name more establishments but he seemed to be fixated with Sogo. This, in my opinion, is quite alarming to hear from a high school kid.

Photo credit: Chicken Mafia

Anyway, he took my advice and took a jeep to Alabang to go to Zapote Kabila. When I passed by Sogo (en route to Talaba), I can't help but wonder if there were any Sogo in Zapote Kabila. I'm not really in the know when it comes to motels, you know.

For the first-timers in the south, trying to locate Zapote Kabila may get confusing. If you're in the Kalinisan area, Zapote Kabila calls for a crawl along the public market to the overpass; it is the road that leads to both sides of Las Piñas (1. Bamboo Organ to Kabihasnan & 2. Pamplona to SouthMall to Alabang). Now, if you're in THAT area, Zapote Kabila is on the other side; the one that leads to Cavite. Weird, I know.




I just had a last-minute brisk walking episode with a few of my batchmates yesterday morning when I received a phone call from a former colleague, urging me to meet him. He needed my company while waiting for a nearby establishment to open and he wanted to pay me for this shampoo (yep, I'm a dealer). Walking 2 blocks from Paseo Avenue to Herrera immediately registered as a major hassle, considering my poor feet had just endured 45 minutes of action. When I realized I could use some change for my commute home and when I remembered the buses tend to speed by Stock Exchange, I shook my head and took another long walk.

Before I could enter North Park to meet him, I noticed the continuous appearances of Erjohn & Almark buses along Ayala Avenue with the signboard that reads DASMARIñAS. I suddenly remembered that sole Erjohn & Almark bus I saw the previous night whose signboard showed AYALA instead of the usual BUENDIA. I didn't take that bus, fearful of any optical illusion-related tragedies. I've had enough instances of tardiness already.

I reported the good news to Chad who echoed he saw the same Ayala-bound bus the previous night. It must be for real! We were all the more convinced it was true when we experienced the ride ourselves and got charged for only P25 for the ride. Yes, I had a pleasant smile before I fell asleep.

I normally take a bus from Ayala Ave. to Baclaran for P11, then a jeepney to Talaba (fare ranges from P13-18, depending on the driver and your willingness to argue with them) or airconditioned bus to Talaba for P25. Finally, a jeepney ride to my baranggay that amounts to P7. Sometimes, when I'm too lazy to have a 5-minute walk to my place or the sun gets too unbearable, I take a pedicab for P5. You do the math.

At the risk of sounding like an endorser, I encourage fellow Caviteños working in Makati to avail of this and save P11 daily! At this time of financial drought, news of the upcoming privatization of MRT and LRT and its proposed fare increase to P50-55, this discovery of a cheaper and sleep-conducive route is truly timely. I just hope that bus operators won't change their mind about this. Ever!

Needless to say, we Caviteños have a new favorite bus line. Hurrah to Jasper and Erjohn & Almark!