Monday, February 7

a train story

an annoying thing happened on the train monday morning...

most of my friends know that i have avoided any form of employment south of aurora blvd.  so when i learned i had to attend a 2-week workshop in manila, i cringed inwardly.

so, for the past several days, i've been attending a workshop which is held at pedro gil in ermita.  normally, i hate the idea of having to commute to up manila everyday, but the lrt line 1 has been extended all the way to congressional corner edsa (roosevelt station) and it has made my commute so much more convenient. congressional ave. to pedro gil in 30 minutes! it was unbelievable.  for me to drive at 730am to manila would mean a 2 hour drive (possibly more), to take the bus or an fx would take almost as much time.  taking the mrt line 2 from katipunan then changing trains at d. jose to lrt 1 would be shorter than an hour, but would have me changing transport 4 times (2 jeeps, 2 trains), not to mention longer walks between jeepney stops/train stations.

i've actually been enjoying my commute... enjoying the scenery from quezon city to manila froma different point of view, above street level.  the balintawak cloverleaf, the monumento, the chinese temple, the chinese, north and la loma cemeteries, avenida rizal, the pasig river, rizal park, the national museum, the department of justice, the philippine general hospital... these are sights i don't see very often, since i do live and work (and entertain myself) in quezon city. i find myself mesmerized by the urban sprawl of downtown manila.

after a week of commuting, i fell into routine, leaving my house a few minutes later, knowing that i would still make it in around an hour.  but last monday was a different story.  as the train pulled up to the monumento station and the doors opened, a throng of people forced themselves to fit in the cars.  Pushing and shoving was accompanied by angry shouts.  I was thankful that adri and i gotten seats, the standing commuters were packed like sardines.  The doors closed and as the train started to pull away, it suddenly ground to halt after less than a meter!

"pakiusap lang po, wag hawakan ang mga emergency button, hindi tayo makakaalis dito!" the driver announced.  aaargh.  somebody had turned the emergency button located above the doors! the security guards and technicians ran back and forth outside the trains frantically looking for the culprit. everyone in the packed train groaned.  after around fifteen minutes they announced that the passengers had to be unloaded and the train brought back to the reversing area to be serviced.

"paano kami lalabas eh puno ng tao! saan kami dadaan?" the people inside the train complained angrily.  outside, the crowd stood unmoving on the platform.  the impasse lasted for almost 20 minutes when people on the platform finally began leaving.  the train on the opposite direction was at a standstill as well, probably, all the trains in all the stations stopped.  eventually, there were just a few of us left in the car.  the crowd outside had thinned slightly, but was still formidable. adri kept telling me "wag tayong bababa, gagawan nila ng paraan yan!". the other passengers, mostly those who had caught the train in the earlier stations, roosevelt and balintawak refused to leave as well.  (it was definitely a case of patigasan ng ulo, myself wone of the matitigas ang ulo!) eventually, the doors closed and it was announced over the sound system that the train was reversing, and we would be assisted on to another train. so the doors opened, we jumped down to the tracks, walked back towards the direction of the station, and went back into one of the forward cars on our train.  because the monumento station was previously the last station, there was a reversing section where there were three sets of tracks.  we waited for another train to come in from balintawak, stopping beside our train. They were planning for us to "jump" trains, but it took three trains before they finally got the doors between the 2 aligned, and we could cross over to the new train!

getting down the train onto the tracks, getting into the next car & jumping to the next train

all in all, i was about 45 minutes late for my class, not so bad, i'm glad we didn't get down at monumento to take the bus all the way to taft which would have probably taken hours at that time. when i got to class, i found out that one of my workshop-mates, who got on the train at tayuman, was late as well, and that they had announced that they had a problem at the monumento station.  yes, i told her.  it was MY train!  imagine how much trouble that guy who had (hopefully accidentaly, at least) pulled the emergency button had caused!  How many people he had hassled, on a monday morning at that! while it was an interesting experience (what are the chances i'd experience it in the space of a week of riding the train!), i'm glad its not something i might experience often.  of course i feel that it completes my train experience, and i'm thankful that's the worst i've experienced.

i'm on the last few days of my workshop, and my daily commute to manila.  soon i'll be back to my 15 minute drive to work!

perhaps i'll be using the train again soon, maybe to explore more of manila on foot.


  1. i would love to try. connected ba yun sa mrt na north?

  2. Arrrrgh! Hassle! Would you know how often that happens?

  3. trinket! there's so much more to experience on a train ride :) i hope to see you and adri soon.

  4. Sometimes things do happen to break a routine noh? (in this case, it has been a routine in a week's time). Glad you're safe Trinket and nothing much worse happened!

  5. Thank you Trinket . Your story is a living reminder why I moved back to the country. If anything breaks down where I am - its most probably my slippers!

  6. hindi pa. for now last station ang roosevelt (muñoz). pero eventually pag natapos na, dapat may pedestrian crossing to north edsa station of MRT-1.

  7. i don't think it happens a lot. i was just... lucky? unlucky?

  8. and that's something you have control over!!! :-)

  9. yup. even in a week, a routine can be established!!! (so much for doing something 20 times) and breaks in the routine can be welcome changes... depending on how you view them!