You must be so excited, my officemate teased as I was preparing to leave the office at exactly 5 pm. I ignored his remark and thought to myself that four hours should be enough for me to reach the airport which is just 21 kilometers away. You see, I have a 10 pm flight going to Singapore (I needed to be there an hour before the flight).
I opted to take the P2P buses in Quezon City to reach Makati City and just take a cab from there going to NAIA Terminal 3. Yes, I took the no-stopover bus instead of the train because I didn’t want to open my luggage for inspection anymore. And yes, I thought also that I had so much time on my hands. I was wrong. Dead wrong.
It was already 7pm, two hours since I rode the bus and I was still in Ortigas. That is just like 11 kilometers which would usually take 50 minutes to reach when coming from the office. My friend in Singapore who was excited to see me sent me a message asking where I was already. My mother also sent me an SMS with the same question. I started getting a bit nervous and so I didn’t reply to them to avoid entertaining thoughts that I will miss my flight. (They might panic and I might do the same).
I thought of other options – Will I hop out of the bus and drag my luggage to the nearest train station? If I do that, I think it will eat more time given the number of people rushing to get home on a Friday night. And so I decided to keep calm and just read the book I bought earlier. You guys have no idea how many times I stopped myself from fretting! haha!
It was already 8:30 pm when I reached Makati. Calmly and nicely, I approached the Grab Taxi kiosk there to ask for a cab. I still managed to crack a joke to the lady to ease myself. hahaha! Too bad, their system was down and so I just waited, no a cab passed by and caught my eye.
The driver asked what time my flight was. I said 10 pm and he assured me I will make it. But this was not until a heavy traffic welcomed us somewhere in Makati. I still kept it cool. We talked about politics, traffic and cars. I opened my Waze to check the traffic ahead. When I mentioned to the driver that someone from Waze warned not to take Skyway, we rushed right away to the other way.
At 9:20 pm, I reached NAIA. Still not panicking, I managed to queue in coming inside and in paying the travel tax. Since I already checked-in online, I asked an airline staff to just help me check in my baggage…immediately. My blood was already rushing in my veins because the airline staff said that my flight has already announced its last call. Wah!!
I queued in the Foreign Passport holder immigration kiosk where the line was shorter. I filled out the immigration card while on queue. The immigration officer saw me and asked sharply, ‘Are you a foreign passport holder??’ I said no and mentioned that my flight was almost done boarding the passengers.
When I went passed through immigration, I queued again for bag inspection. After that, I raaannn like mad to reach the gate which happens to be on the farther side!!! Wah!
Finally, I reached the gate, run through the tube to reach the plane doors. I was sweaty, gasping for breath, stopping the urge to pee and hungry when I was met by… (TADAH!) a queue in the tube going inside the plane.
There’s still a line? I said to the three ladies in front of me.
Yeah, after we ran and rushed, there’s still a line, they said in between laughs.
But I was not complaining. It didn’t matter. What matter is that I did not miss my flight.
Six days after, I recalled this story to my friends in Singapore over dinner at Marche (Yes, I need to mention this because food was great. hehe). They laughed at my very animated storytelling. And we started discussing how to find solutions to EDSA’s traffic and to all the other social problems of the Philippines.
Saan mo sisimulan? [Where do we begin?], my friend asked, when problems seem to be connected to each other in an endless seam.
As a government employee myself, I will spare you the litany of problems we have in our country (Not that we know better, but yeah, probably we know things that ordinary people don’t see). But allow me to share the only way I know on how to solve the problems little by little, not in six months, not over the course of a night.
The only solution I see is to begin with one person – me. You can start with one person too – you.
I will do what is right from the simple no littering rule to some of the complex rules like following the red and green traffic lights. I will queue properly even if I don’t deserve such hassle. I will be polite even if others are not. I will respect the people in authority. I will throw my garbage properly and if possible, recycle things that can still be used. I will not whine about what a mess our place is but will strive to look for positive things and speak about it. I will support local products/industries to empower small enterprises. And during elections, I will choose a leader according to his/her ability to lead and integrity.
These are not grandiose things. But I know that if I keep on doing these things, a child may learn from my example, a hopeless citizen may spark a new hope in him/her or a single person may get affected by my simple, tiny effort.
The change I long to see begins in me.
I hope you also long to see the change that you deserve and begin it with you.