We would stand in line for hours, rain soaking our shoes. Others have embraced the cold, but I cannot. I must keep the papers of my students dry. And when you are finally seated inside the jeep, you will know what sardines inside their cans would feel, the only difference is that sardines are too dead to complain, we are merely too tired and calloused. The so-called 21 seating capacity including driver actually means just the minimum, this is understood by all. Even the phrase “children 3 years old and below should be afforded free seats” means nothing as parents are told to carry their children. Here we are the sardinas, cramped with wet bags, wet groceries and wet children, on the way home
Home to the traffic. The jeep will now fall in line as ridiculous road repairs force a one way scheme for an otherwise perfectly functioning road. So we bump, we get wet, we wait in line, we wait in traffic, we get late for our classes, we pay ever increasing bills, listen to news of more crime and corruption, then get up to work again.
I labored as a contractual for 3 years. We gave it our all, earning so-called academic and performance merits to no avail- only to be given notice of the end of the contract after six months. We teachers worked hard, some of us take the extra mile by reading more than the outdated syllabus and plagiarized official school textbooks given to us, by giving extra attention to students who need more academic guidance, checking the papers of 250 or more students, all unpaid. As you are paid only by the hour you spend inside the classroom, work done outside? Pro bono.
And I am not yet of the worst case.
I scratch the scar on my face. A red badge of courage or stupidity for trying to stop some gangsters beat up someone I barely knew. The police came too late and were powerless – afraid that they might violate someone’s “human rights”. A friend of mine actually used this line when he was so drunk that he pissed on a police officer’s breakfast. My friend was out drinking past midnight and before going home thought he might piss rom the overpass. He got away with his human rights intact- and the police officer’s meal?
The endless rain, the time spent standing in line under the rain, the poor transit conditions, the traffic, the stupid stupid unnecessary DPWH road repairs that take too long to complete, you look at the time, you will be late, at home, at work. Out of time.
Pag my time… there will be a time, I told myself, when the stress level of the people will finally exceed its threshold and something momentous will happen. I had no idea back then what it was, but I know it will shake and probably destroy the foundations of our sick city, our sick country.
We are ready.