It was CHAOS as I excitedly wound my way to the lounge area of the Philtranco bus terminal in Pasay City on the evening of my trip. But what greeted me was the throng of people in various states and disposition as they were awaiting for their bus to arrive. Unfortunately, because it was 30 December and the height of the passenger season, all buses were late for as much as 2 hours.
Philtranco services southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao routes with their main terminal in Pasay City along EDSA.
+63 2 832 2456
+63 2 833 1369
+63 2 833 5061
(These are their posted numbers and I can’t always assure that they answer)
With all the things going around, I can’t help but observe:
- all available seats were filled not only with people but with baggages as well
- children running and playing around
- leftover food like Jollibee hamburger wrappers and plastics with some soda spilled on the floor
- people watching TV patiently trying to make out the sounds above the din while others were animatedly gesticulating, conversing with their companions
- many were standing, at the sides, while others, seated silently clutching their bags or texting at their cellphones or impatiently checking the time
- the guard doubling as bus announcer complaining to the people not to blame him for the delay but raise it with the dispatcher
- various tongues: Bicol, Waray, Tagalog, Cebuano mixed with the laughter, TV, vehicle’s horns and buses’ brakes
- a bored female passenger amusing herself with self portraits using her cellphone’s camera
This trip was rather expensive. When I went to get my ticket the day before, I was left with no option but to get a Legazpi bound bus for 2000H. The regular aircon bus was already full that I just had no choice but to buy the pricey, P900, super deluxe.
Seeing the chaos around, I was sort of comforted that having a first class ticket, I would be spared all these but when I reached the supposed exclusive lounge, it was nothing but a cramped corner and separated from the rest with a 5 foot partition. But just the same, it was crowded and littered with food wrappers. Curiously, many passengers were already bundled up with their jackets even if the room was not so cold. Were they already anticipating the aircon bus trip?
Outside the terminal, passengers spilled into the steps as the lobby was crowded. While some got their tickets, many were hopeful that a seat would be available at the last minute and be able to go as a chance passenger. While Philtranco buses loads and unloads passengers and cargo inside, an Amihan Bus, probably an affiliate as they have their ticket office inside, loads them just at the front of the terminal.
My disappointment was not only with the first class lounge. When I was able to get on the bus two hours after the scheduled departure, and I was even a chance passenger because bus 795 did not arrive yet, I was not really happy with what I saw. Instead of the original 27 seats, they changed the configuration of the seating arrangement so that they can cram in a total of 40! Now, isn’t that greedy? The deluxe buses of Victory Liner bound for Cagayan is much much better.
When I found my seat, I was in the last and I already cringed at the thought of a sleepless journey especially upon passing the newer Tagkawayan – Naga route. While it is much faster by skipping Camarines Norte, I have known this highway to be perennially unfinished, riddled with potholes, dusty and just bad. What aggravated my situation more was at my right is the imposing door of the comfort room (left). Yikes! But despite all these, I was still comforted with ample leg room and was able to stand the constant opening and shutting of the rest room door with its accompanying sweet scent of deodorizer riddled with hints of ammonia.
Well, the travails of taking the bus on this journey during a passenger season. But come to think of it, it adds spice to the experience of travel.
NOTE: Check out the rest of the articles of this series at theLOOP.