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18 April 2007

TRAVEL TALES : Jeepney ride in Manila

The iconic, flamboyant “King of the Road”.

THE AFTERNOON was fading fast. We had a few more hours to spare after visiting Manila F.A.M.E. I decided to bring Bembem and Neha to Intramuros, where the city of Manila all began.

I let them savor their first-ever jeepney ride, which we took from Hyatt Hotel to Intramuros. They yelped happily inside the jeepney. “Take a picture of us,” Bembem asked the man seated in front of us. The man just glared back, perhaps seeing her action as rude. The woman next to him scolded him in Tagalog. “Kunan mo na sila at nakakahiya naman (Take their picture; it’s embarrassing not to do so).” The man did not budge, his Ray-Ban sunglasses shielding whatever look he had in his eyes.

To save ourselves from further discomfort, I took the picture and wondered whatever happened to the man’s sense of Filipino hospitality. I wanted to slap the man’s face for being cold, but I realized that the woman’s reprimand was good enough.

I sensed a pattern here. Last night at the Mall of Asia, Neha commented that I seemed to be the only one smiling so broadly. Taken aback, I realized that she was right. Filipinos generally reciprocate such smiling behavior; at the mall, only the security guards and the sales crews had happy, beaming faces.

Has the climate become too hot for the urban Manileño to beam and smile?

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