31 July 2010

Fare Rituals You See Ever so Often in Batangas


A man boards a jeepney and goes all the way to the end of the seat just behind the driver. He looks around at all the other passengers and immediately recognizes a friend.

The fare ritual instantly begins.

“May bayad ka na ga?” he says to the lady friend.

“Walâ pa,” she replies; and as though it has only just occurred to her that she has a fare to pay, she suddenly goes through the motion of digging into her clutch bag. “Dine na!” she tells the man lamely, labas na labas sa ilong…

“Ako na!” the man gallantly says, having already picked a twenty from his wallet. In truth, since the lady is a little farther down the seat, there is only going to be one person to win this race.

But the lady friend is spirited, and – still in that lame tone – says to the man, “Areh na! Barya areh!” She extends her arm forward with a collection of bagul in her palms.


But, of course, the man is closer to the driver and has already handed the twenty peso bill; and in so doing puts an end to the farce.

The two have a good laugh, and the man tells the lady a story of another jeepney encounter with a common lady friend. This time, it was the lady who asked the man, “May bayad ka na ga?”

“Wala pa!” the man had replied. Here, the fare ritual was supposed to begin; except that this one had a different twist. “Ay siya,” the lady told the man, “eh ‘di magbayad ka na!”

“Hiyang-hiyâ ako eh!” the man tells the current lady friend. He is grinning, though; his way of letting the current lady friend that he took it all in good humor.

And in another jeepney ride…

A lady wearing a navy blue uniform is seated just behind the driver. The jeepney is nearly full, with just two or three slots available.

The driver sees another lady in the same uniform getting ready to cross the street. So he stops for her at the kanto.

The first lady, likewise, sees the second lady. Her eyes momentarily light up in recognition. She opens her purse halfheartedly; then closes it after a quick peek. We will give her the benefit of the doubt and think wala s’yang barya instead of kuripot.

Instead of calling out to the second lady after she boards – or even just looking her way – the first lady does the convenient thing: she turns her head towards the windshield.

Meanwhile, the second lady seats herself and quickly scans the faces of the other passengers. The first lady’s head was averted away from her; but she recognizes her, nonetheless, and momentarily thinks of calling out to her.

Instead, she digs into her purse for her fare and pulls out some coins. There is no way for her to tell if the first lady has seen her, so she gently touches the arm of the gentleman next to her without even bothering to say, “Bayad pô!” We will all assume she is just wary that the first lady may recognize her voice.

As the first lady continues to keep her face averted towards the windshield, the second lady predictably averts hers towards the rear. The charade goes on as we all wonder who gets a stiff neck first.

As can be expected, both ladies wonder kung sinong papara. As the place of disembarkation nears, the second lady has no choice but to look nervously towards the front. The first lady is still keeping her head averted, but it is her who calls out, “Para pô!”

The jeepney jolts to a stop, and the first lady looks towards the rear for the first time since the second lady boarded. Their eyes meet. The first lady musters a lame smile and calls out to the second lady, “Uy! Nandito ka pala!”

They both leave the jeepney and us thinking, “Kasarap pagbuhulin…”

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