Of lowlifes and the corrupt, Divisoria-style.

Of lowlifes and the corrupt, Divisoria-style. 

FOR SEVERAL TIMES, I took that route to Divisoria for many personal and professional reasons. Once, I had to take that route to attend a relative's wake in the Tondo area.

At others times--and for several times--I had to pay my respects to my in-laws who are natives of Visaya and the Tondo area as well, all of them knowing both the good, old ways of survival a la Visaya and a la Tondo.

When I taught at the University of Santo Tomas prior to EDSA People Power I, I was raising a young family, and lived in an apartment in Tondo.

I had three ways to get there: (1) through the Manila Hotel-Luneta area, and therefore via Quiapo; (2) through the Binondo area by getting that jeepney that gets into the heart of Santa Cruz, cross Carriedo and the Blessing Sacrament church, and hop on a jeepney going to Dapitan; and (3) through the heart of Tondo: that ride from the end of the railroad tracks coming from Bicol, into the Tutuban area, and there get a jeepney to Morayta-FEU, and there cross España, get into the UST Main Entrance or P. Noval, and get into the heart of a medieval-cum-contemporary university, a royal and pontifical school of learning that predates the United States' Harvard University. 

From my perch in the boondocks far out into the eastern part of the blighted metropolis called Manila, I get the cab, the train, or the shuttle, each of these with its own possibilities, promises, and problems. 

If I took the train, I get off at Recto, the last station.

From there, I have two options: (1) get the Divisoria-bound jeepney usually coming from Cubao, Santa Mesa, or Morayta, and there, at the Canal de la Reina, hop into a pedicab that would bring me to the Santo Niño Shrine, or  (2) get a motorized trike akin to a tricycle, and there, with the suicidal driving skills of young trikes drivers, you can ask to be brought to the Santo Niño Shrine. 

Either way, taxi is seldom an option. No taxi cab driver would want to fight for street space in that area marked by a sea of people with dreams of leaving this place at first instance. 

I took the jeepney several times, and each time, I was mesmerized by some unwritten codes on the street. 

By the time the jeepney hits Avenida Rizal, the driver would come up with some codes, and gives out some bills to a man who looked like a pickpocket or smuggler or mugger, and in crisp, gutter Tagalog, the driver would say, 'Tell the boss I shall give the rest when I make another trip.' 

And then as soon as the jeepney hits the Abad Santos stop light, another one of those wordless ritual, and always handing out a paper bills to the man who looks like a robber. 

I mustered enough courage one day and I asked an middle-aged man, 'What is that for, sir?' 

The driver, with graying hair and worn clothing, said, 'You do not want to know, sir.' 

'What is it that I do not know?' 

'That's a collection for the boss, a policeman who has turf of this place. Teritoria niya ito. We drivers--all of us--do the same thing. 


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