Stranded in Makati: a commuter’s nightmare


I was one of the unfortunate thousands who got home very late last night.

The monstrous traffic jams seemed to bring out the worst in people – loud honking of horns from motorists who cut, overtake, counterflow and try to get into every street shortcut they know just to get home.

Hundreds more were on the streets.  Walking, rather than sitting on their behinds for hours, seemed like a better option for them. Everyone was wet, cold, tired, hungry, and short on patience.

Chaos would have been a kind word to describe EDSA at 10 p.m. last night.

Our shuttle left the terminal at a little past 8:00 p.m. and I reached Concepcion, Marikina close to midnight. It turned out I was luckier than most people I know – some of them slept at their offices and just went home early this morning to change. Others got home past midnight or later. What was normally an hour-long ride home for me turned into a 3.5-hour commuter’s nightmare.

For those who have no idea, an FX or shuttle service packs in 14 to 18 passengers depending on the size of the vehicle. Most of the time, the air conditioning doesn’t work.

Last night, the shuttle smelled of onions and garlic from a passenger’s shawarma dinner. The driver was honking the horn incessantly and cursing at pedestrians who took over almost one lane of the road. He was driving like a madman because he still had to return to the terminal and ferry more passengers home.

When we left Makati, the queue of Marikina-bound passengers waiting for a ride was about two blocks long. There were equally long lines for those going to Pasig, Antipolo, Sucat, Taguig, and practically every other direction in the metropolis.

Traffic moved at a snail’s pace in Makati and eased up only a little in C-5. It slowed down to a crawl again near Pasig and Eastwood due to the volume of vehicles. All this time, passengers busied themselves with their mobile phones. I kept hearing Candy Crush music as I dozed off lightly during the trip.

What surprised me the most was that none of the passengers inside the shuttle was complaining. It was as if they have accepted getting stranded as a fact of life, part and parcel of their adventures on the road.  They will still get up in the morning, go to work, and line up for the shuttle again after putting in the required number of hours at the office. Rinse and repeat five days a week.

I don’t know how they do it but a fellow Mom had this to say, and I guess it sums up the whole experience of being stranded : nevermind that I am on the streets and cold, as long as my kid is safe and warm at home.

Photo: Morayta, Manila during yesterday’s flood by Amiel Victor Ariota

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