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18 Km, 1 hour: a bus ride of exasperation

The ST Bus of Corominas bus company that I took from Tuburan was no fun at all. In fact, it was an exasperating ride that taxed my patience.

The ST Bus of Corominas bus company that I took from Tuburan was no fun at all. In fact, it was an exasperating ride that taxed my patience.

Speak of Cebu and images of the Sto. Niño , the province’s patron, come to mind. And so does the valiant Lapu-Lapu, sweet mangoes, the famous lechon, guitars and beaches. But it is more than that. Cebu is a special and beautiful place. It is also my home.

The ST bus of Corominas, a bus line that monopolize the Toledo – Tuburan stretch of land in western Cebu was taking it’s time, cruising the unpaved road like it had all the time in the world. Music is blaring deafeningly that if you want to talk with the conductor or another passenger, you have no option but to shout.

Overly decorated front

Overly decorated front

Its running at 20 kph or less that, at first, I was thinking that there might be a cortege in front, slowing us down at a snail’s pace. But the road was clear except for the sporadic passings of habalhabals, passenger motorcycles that got it’s name from the copulation like position of the driver and his passengers. I walk faster than this, I thought. Puzzled, I looked at the other passengers and all of them were calm, unmindful of the seeming slow pace whereas I was fidgety and losing my patience, glancing at my watch every few minutes.

I was in a hurry. It was almost 1600H and I still have to reach Sta. Lucia Parish in Asturias to take a shot of the church façade while the sun is still at a good angle infront of it. This was for a book project that I was commissioned to do. Time is running out for me and here, just a few few kilometers from Tuburan, the bus is crawling.

Curious, I asked my seatmate what is happening, and she answered that these buses usually do this especially as passengers are few and far and the next public transport is still a long way. It’s another way to buy time between buses. For the next 8 kilometers it was a leisurely cruise across the rough roads and I was resigned to such unfortunate fate. From time to time, the bus accelerates only to go back to its slow speed. After 30 minutes, it finally pulled ahead with speed and I was calmed and enjoyed the bucolic view of fields, low rolling hills and the beautiful west Cebu coastline, clean with white sandy beaches and uncommercialized.

Inside front of bus decorated with various quotes and names

Inside front of bus decorated with various quotes and names

A passenger waiting for the bus to head it's way at the terminal in Tuburan, Cebu.

A passenger waiting for the bus to head it's way at the terminal in Tuburan, Cebu.

After around 40 minutes and the bus again stopped. Just a few seconds to pick or unload a passenger, I mused. But then, the engine halted. The driver went down with his water container. What the…! Another delay and this time, it is at a standstill. No leisurely ride, nor blaring music. Just the sound of water being hosed on the underside of the bus.

10 minutes flew by and surprisingly, the passengers were still calm but I was already uneasy. After five minutes, the engine roared back again and the bus was on its way. It might have all been okay but to my utter disapointment, I was already at my destination after just a kilometer.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

12 Comments

  1. norahd56
    March 9, 2009 @ 19:39

    Hello Estan! Your Tuburan bus experience really made me laugh…. ha ha ha ha… if you could only see me now… ha ha ha.

    Oh my gosh… i felt your anxiety just reading the story.. parang ako ang sumakay sa bus. Ayy naku talaga naman… kunsumisyon!!!!

    Smile lang dong…

  2. dong ho
    March 9, 2009 @ 21:53

    mahirap nga ang ganyang byahe. specially if you’re having a tight trip time for that place.

  3. The Islander
    March 11, 2009 @ 11:55

    hahaha! dili sya tanto mahilig sa decorations ha.
    very pinoy!

  4. Sidney
    March 11, 2009 @ 22:18

    It is indeed a very strange behavior… most bus drivers are driving fast unmindful of the safety of their passengers…
    So, I guess it was bad luck !

  5. Christine
    March 20, 2009 @ 9:51

    I usually love bus rides but when it’s this slow, it drives me crazy!

    This was truly a test of patience.

  6. estan
    March 20, 2009 @ 20:50

    norahd, wala talaga ako magawa dun. nakakainis pero its the province and it is where life is just slow paced 🙂

    pero it would have been another thing if i was not in a hurry. that might have been tolerable 🙂

  7. Rugged but beautiful South Cebu | langyaw
    May 25, 2009 @ 17:07

    […] However, even if there are few vehicles, speed limits are not often observed and with many blind curves. Couple this with the people’s lax attitude in these parts and it can be disastrous. A few years ago, I was speeding near Oslob and suddenly, a child crossed the street. It sent me shaking with fear. Well, unless you are in Tuburan. […]

  8. » An enjoyable ride around north Cebu | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    July 13, 2009 @ 23:46

    […] big exaggeration. Just a small one. Well paved and a few bad roads are deserted with the occasional (and exasperating) Corominas Brothers, or the yellow Pesiao buses that ply the […]

  9. dckiks
    July 15, 2009 @ 2:41

    It is really a hard time for you. But you had an option, why it did not came to your mind to get off from the bus and took the habalhabal the passed your ride instead. You could be at your destination in no time instead of having a headache. Pinoy sab! mwa ha ha ha !

  10. estan
    July 15, 2009 @ 8:04

    @dckiks, good suggestion but you’re out in this side of Cebu where even habalhabals are few and far between. Whenever one passes, its full. If I will just get down on the bus and wait, it might take me 30 minutes or more of waiting. And when you finally get one, prepare to be charged an arm and a leg.

  11. dckiks
    July 24, 2009 @ 3:58

    fyi, i live in 2buran for 730 days/that’s 2 yrs fyi. before finally moving there, i stayed in sangi/st.lucia for a year. that’s how i know. i ride busses and habalhabal from asturias to 2buran and d other way around. 2buran was already crowded busses’tricycle;habalhabal;v-hire.for a long time. You have just to understand with these places that f u want to go each way faster, you have 2 pay more f 8 s very important. C?! what u got? you paid less and u did not got the exact point of time that u need. you both loss.

  12. estan
    July 24, 2009 @ 8:18

    Hi dckiks, that’s the difference, you have lived for two years whereas I was a visitor. How would I know that that was the case for buses? But I have learned my lesson. In succeeding trips, around 3 more, I took the habalhabal and/or van. On the bright side, it was an experience. 🙂

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