June 20, 2024

Of course, we all have to go through with it: the pains and disappointments of our first real job. Mine was steering a jeepney and my route was Baguio-Camp Dangwa and vice versa (an old, spritely lady asked where vice versa was and I was nonplussed myself). Because I was new on the job, I should be familiar with the places round my route. I should, in fact, know every nook and cranny along the road I was traversing daily. My life depended on it.
Now, to stop a jeepney when one wishes to alight, a passenger can do any of the three ways: Hit a coin repeatedly against the metal handle bar by the ceiling. The tinkling sound can guarantee a stoppage; hit the ceiling with the bent finger knuckle, preferably with the middle finger of either hands or use a fist; or say para.
I had no problem at all with the former two. If you had strong ears like a dog’s or a bat’s, the noise from the diesel engine was curiously like a cat’s purr. You didn’t overshoot intended stops. If you had weak hearing, you will surely be a recipient of unkindly words from disgruntled passengers. But then again, you may not. A weak ear cancels most words anyway.
The third is pretty straightforward and popular. “Para ditoy”, “Manong, para” or simply, para. Some romantic guys (or drunks) will blurt “paradise”. But that was quite ok as the word para is incorporated.
The thing that bothered me most is when people tried to be dramatic. Instead of applying the tried and standard three ways, they make your life a little miserable. There was that guy who muttered, “Tabi lang ho”.
I kept driving and suddenly one passenger said, “Para kano!” The passenger went out with insolent stare. But, pray tell me, where the hell is that place? Tabangaoen was on the other side of Balili River and not accessible by road. Bahong didn’t belong to my route. The man may have been lost as Trancoville was up yonder in Baguio.
And to my deep consternation, why should some people insist on calling me mother? “Tabi lang ho, mama”. I can’t believe it. (ELMER APACWAY)