My Philippines Adventure Continues
Initiated in the unique experiences of public transportation in the Philippines
Initially on our Philippines adventure, we got around in a cab. They are plentiful in the city as are Jeepneys and pedi-cabs. To anyone whoever complains about drivers in any North American cities I will ask, “You have never been to the Philippines have you?”
These guys are something else; I think they even outdo the Italians. Most cross-streets have neither lights nor stop nor yield signs. It is every Cab, Jeepney, pedi-cab car, truck and pedestrian for himself. I am learning the art of ultimate jay walking. No one flinches. No one gives way. Some trucks display signs such as ‘Keep your distance.’ What they mean by that is “No getting any closer than 3”. By any normal reality the streets should be littered with broken vehicles and dead people – perhaps even including us – but no. This is all normal.
The streets are filled with sound. The Jeepney is the Cebu bus. It’s a Jeep frontage with a modified long axle base carrying a passenger cabin. Most are painted in outrageous colors, no two the same, and many have, in place of a destination sign in front, a legend such as ‘Sweet Girl,’ ‘St Anthony,’ ‘Mary Lou,’ or some such. Nearly all carry a religious message somewhere on the bodywork. The passenger cab is the height, more or less, as for a large SUV +/-. The body structure may be found in new, silver, chromium plated versions or, more commonly, glued, tied and hammered together with varying sizes of sheet metal and rusty pipe, the thickness of which serves to separate you from the vehicles traveling at break neck speed an inch or two apart either side of you. While there are window frames there is no glass so the A/C is whatever the temp is around you. And when it rains in a tropical storm, well…. To climb aboard you double over in half and do your best to avoid crunching your head and scraping your back until you attain an empty inch or two on one of the two bench seats that run the length of the vehicle either side facing each other. Filipinos pack tight so no being shy.
The Jeepney holds about twenty eight snuggled people – normally – and there are never less than twenty, when it doesn’t have people hanging off the sides standing on the rear step or riding the roof. The closeness may be illustrated when I describe having my arms around Daisy’s back and giving her a little tickle around the hip. Turned out I was working the wrong girl and got glared at for my efforts – and frowned at by Daisy as a result of the afore- mentioned’s squeal.
I had hoped we could fly to Dumaguete from Cebu as “it is only a 35 minute flight away,” I had learned from ‘International Living’. But when I tried to book a flight using ‘Travelocity,’ ‘Cheap Tickets’ and other on-line airline booking agencies while in Canada it became evident that as far as the web crawlers or at least the travel sites were concerned, there was no such flight. I could get there by plane only via Manila and $350.00 for a one way ticket. (I since learned there is in fact a direct, daily flight between Cebu and Dumaguete, unknown to web crawlers apparently, on Cebu Pacific Air at a cost of +/- US$50.00) and have personally witnessed it.
In Cebu we learned of a high speed ferry to Dumaguete leaves at 8AM and 10PM. Neither times suited so we were left with the option of the bus that leaves, every couple of hours, from Cebu’s south side bus terminal. The journey is south to Bato and the Tampi Bato ‘landing craft’ aka ferry, across a narrow stretch of water to Tandayag Wharf, north of Dumaguete on the Western Nautical Highway. The boat is not a landing craft in the military sense but looks a bit like one with its rear superstructure and high sides when it steams up to the dock, drops its ramp and the vehicles roar off as though hell bent for the front lines. The bus then continues on into Dumaguete. Allow +/- 6 hours from Cebu. I have quickly learned that public transportation is a Philippines adventure all in itself