PNR train trip

Surviving PNR’s rush hour train trip

Its pushing and shoving and about making it to your destination from a Philippine National Railways rush hour train trip in one piece

Estan, PNR is a bad idea during rush hour.

Seated passengers are also pushed and sometimes have to shield themselves from the hoard. CLICK TO ENLARGE

I was warned. But I was already at the PNR Buendia Station with a P10 ticket to Sucat and some Pinoy Travel Bloggers were on their way for the Christmas party. Besides, I haven’t ridden the newer airconditioned coaches of the Philippine National Railways and I was looking forward to pass through its sliding doors.

The 1730H train arrived on the dot, a 25 minute gap from the last one and looking through the screened glass windows, it was packed. As in sardine can packed and a throng was already gathered at where the doors were supposed to open.

The Wonder Girls’s Nobody was playing but the pushing and shoving just started, a good accompaniment to what was unfolding. Imagine Japan’s high speed train jampacked with passengers with pushers on stand by. The PNR on rush hour is tamer but nevertheless quite an ordeal.

I was pushed to the side where the seats are with a student separating me from those ensconched. Because of the crowd, I was leaning with my pack and a bag of liquor courtesy of Flip while trying to hold on to the bars as my right arm was starting to get tired and numb. Joel was behind me and Marky was several persons away. We were pressed and tightly packed into the airconditioned tin can.

Arriving at the Sucat train station, our destination

But wonder of wonders or credit it to the Pinoy’s laughing out a tight situation. It was actually fun inside! The men were making light of the situation and cracking jokes. When the train comes to a stop and we were agitated like jelly on a plate being moved, woooos can be heard. Then someone shouts out a light banter and everybody laughs.

After Buendia station, more people still came in the succeeding train stops in Pasay Road, EDSA and Nichols as the songs switched from Nobody to Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. The pushing and shoving continued. Jokes cracked and I was still holding on to the bars and talking with the student.

It was only at FTI that it started to loosen up as passengers were reaching their destination. Then at Bicutan that when we arrived at Sucat, our final stop, it was already okay. No standing shoulder to shoulder or catching someone’s breath or smelling the other’s hair.

By this time, Fergie was singing Clumsy as we went out the train still in one piece. Overwhelmed with the experience but actually found it fun and something to try out even for once.

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.


  1. Marky
    December 13, 2010 @ 10:03

    Haha, funny post. It was my first time too riding the PNR that day. Hope the improvement of the PNR will cover sending more trains to lessen the interval to 5-7 minutes that will lessen the crowd inside…it was like attending Red Horse Musiklaban or Pulp Summer Slam, brings back a lot of memories of those mosh pit days hehe.

  2. estan
    December 13, 2010 @ 10:04

    @marky, pareho tayo pre pero ang saya saya di ba?

  3. Ada
    December 13, 2010 @ 10:10

    I think the song Nobody Nobody by Wonder girls adds a chillax mind to the passenger and instead of being hardheaded in this situation. Nakakatuwa talaga mga pinoy!!

  4. estan
    December 13, 2010 @ 10:13

    @ada, hahaha… masaya nga dun kahit siksikan 🙂

  5. Joel Aldor
    December 13, 2010 @ 10:28

    I swear nakaka-traumatize sya hahahaha!

  6. thepinaysolobackpacker
    December 13, 2010 @ 10:44

    gusto ko tlga makasakay jan khet 1 time lng! sayang d ko alam sasakay kau nina Nina!

  7. karlodl
    December 13, 2010 @ 10:44

    do i regret not joining you guys? haha.

    sana magawa na yung Manila to Bicol, tapos lets do a rail-trip 😀

  8. greg urbano
    December 13, 2010 @ 11:27

    looks really pcked for my taste!

  9. Ed
    December 13, 2010 @ 11:30

    Great work taking the picture, Estan. Alam kong mahirap yan! haha.

    During a business trip last year, I was reprimanded by security for taking pictures at the MRT.

  10. journeyingjames
    December 13, 2010 @ 11:45

    nadamay si fergie, lady gaga and wonder girls dito! hahaha

  11. Mark
    December 13, 2010 @ 11:47

    Whenever I visit Manila I always ride the trains , even though I know how crowded they will be ,being a foreigner people look at me as if I must be crazy subjecting myself to this . But it’s all part of the experience . Plus mass public transport helps cut down traffic congestion , and reduces the amount of pollution . You are right though , more frequent services would go a long way towards making the trip more comfortable . In the meantime , there’s room for one more ! lol .

  12. Lois
    December 13, 2010 @ 13:47

    Woah! Parang ang saya! Sana kasama kami ni Chichi. I’m sure mapapasayaw yun. Great seeing you last week Estan along with the PTB crew. It’s

  13. Lois
    December 13, 2010 @ 13:48

    Woah! Parang ang saya! Sana kasama kami ni Chichi. I’m sure mapapasayaw yun. Great seeing you last week Estan along with the PTB crew.

  14. Chris
    December 13, 2010 @ 15:47

    The Asian approach to train travel is, in my limited experience with Japanese and Korean trains, so much more aggressive than what we are used to in Australia. It really is every man for himself. Thankfully I’m a fairly big guy and the ajummas and ajoshis on Korean trains aren’t quite as intimidating as they might be, haha.

    It’s terrifying to know that the Wonder Girls are played ad nauseum outside of the land of soju and kimchi.

  15. estan
    December 13, 2010 @ 15:48

    @lois, yup, ang saya saya. nice to meet you too 🙂

    @mark, its really an experience and for tourists, doing what the locals do enriches your visit 🙂

    @ed, yup, very difficult since it was really so crowded

  16. Josiah
    December 13, 2010 @ 22:47

    Buti pa kayo nakasakay. Sa may EDSA ako naghintay pero hindi ko na kinayang pagkasyahin sarili ko sa loob ng PNR. dibali sa susunod. Nice funny post Estan and nice meeting you, the other travel bloggers and friends! 🙂

  17. flip
    December 13, 2010 @ 22:54

    congrats for surviving… bilib ako sa mga nahuli pang sinakay sa inyo, yung guard tinutulak pa yung isa para mag fit sa loob hehe

  18. Mark
    December 15, 2010 @ 10:22

    Estan , that’s the great thing about The Philippines , it’s easy for a traveller to engage in daily life with Filipino’s . I remember sailing from Manila to Cebu on a ferry , my cabin mates , all Filipino , just automatically included me in meals etc . Questioned me about my travel plans and gave me advice . That’s reason enough to return time after time .

  19. pusang-kalye
    December 16, 2010 @ 7:18

    never ko pang natry sumakay dito—at nasurprise ako kahit panu na maayus ayus naman pala ang tren nila. kasi pag sinabing PNRI—ang naiisip ko yung tren na halos di na makatakbo sa kapal ng kalawang eh.

  20. Marco
    December 20, 2010 @ 8:08

    Gusto ko rin makasakay sa PNR!! 🙂

  21. happysole
    February 6, 2011 @ 12:37

    wala bang risk on overloading sa mga ganito? wala lng.. naisip ko lng. 🙂

    ang gusto kong sakyan eh yung lumang PNR train papuntang bicol. meron pa ba nun?

  22. estan
    February 7, 2011 @ 10:31

    @happysole, overloading? hmmm… parang wala yan sa dictionary sa PNR. hehehe… re bicol, i’m not sure if it has returned since nasira kasi ang rails during one of the strong typhoons doon

  23. » Should you ride PNR’s Bicol Express? | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    November 24, 2011 @ 2:50

    […] the KCR in Hong Kong and my first PNR train ride was a something that I can’t forget during afternoon rush hour. And now this, a long journey that will take us 10 hours and I was […]

  24. jasper
    December 13, 2011 @ 14:18

    sobrnag enjoy sumakay ng PNR most especialy in rush hour time.. there you can see how girls more brutal to guys.. exciting..

  25. asdfgh
    June 11, 2014 @ 21:03

    iba ang pnr train pag di air con ang coach na nasakyan 🙁 experienced that already. Masikip siya, Mainit , maingay at kalamitan mabaho dahil nagpapawis na ang mga tao sa loob.

Tell me what you think