Nine to Eleven



Thank God that July 2 was not so hot and humid. It did not rain as it would heavily do usually. It was just a fine cloudy day, just fine for a day long without electricity. On that afternoon, I was sipping Pepsi (which managed to stay cold) with a guy who my sister pestered to clean a room in the house, which serves as an attic. (He did some serious cleaning in there. I didn’t realize that it was that dirty.)After not going to school for around a year, he was glad to go back to face-to-face classes for his junior year in CBSUA. On the other hand, he worries of how much the fare would be if he’s going to take jeepneys from Canaman to Naga, and from Naga to Pili.


Oh, I almost forgot. A regular jeepney ride now costs P 11.00. I could still remember when it was P 1.00. Then it slowly crept up to 1.50, 2.00, and a 50 centavo or 1 peso more. Before the pandemic hit, it was P 8.00. Then, during the Covid crisis, it slightly climbed up to 9.00. Now, apparently the application for fare increase has been approved, pushing the charge to 11. I’m not sure if the scale from 9 to 11 is proportionate to the zooming prices of gasoline in the recent months.


Eighty percent of 11 is 8.80, which means the discounted fare for students, senior citizens and persons with disability should be P 8.80. Since it would be quite difficult to come up with 80 centavos with 25 centavo coins and with the other coins of smaller denominations, I guess the discounted fare could be rounded off to P 9.00, or some stingy senior citizen could insist in paying eight 1 peso coins, and three 25 centavo coins.


Either with the regular or discounted fare, my concern is that it would be difficult for passengers to prepare exact amount and for drivers to prepare change. We all better save up those 1 peso coins to come up with 11 or 9 pesos before riding a jeepney; or you could hand over your 20 or 50 peso bill, and you’d certainly get some 1 peso coins for change.


On the other hand, it seems that when the number of Covid-19 cases wnt down, the tricycle fare got pegged at P 15.00. Although you would hear murmurs of complaints, passengers are back at packing the three-wheel rides like the way we used to, before all this craziness started. At least, it’s easier to allot three 5 peso coins than to scrounge for a bunch of 1 peso coins to come up with 11 or 9 pesos. Hey, wait, doesn’t the 20% discount apply on the 15 peso tricycle fare? A person with disability should be paying P 12.00 for a three-wheel ride. Why isn’t anybody talking about this? It seems that the rest of society is inevitably going back to the old normal, but tricycles are stuck in the Covid-19 pandemic.


For the Class of 2020, and so with the class of 2019, sorry that the world got crazy for the past two years, and you did not get to march down the aisle with your classmates, after continuously murmuring about the latest gossip or humorous anecdote while in line, waiting for the file to move. Not only do the graduates do that, they have been doing it for numerous times in rehearsals. Months ago, congregations like this would have been controversial.


I guess this is a premonition that in a few months, classes would go back to the traditional in-person, face-to-face classes from 7:30 to 11, 1 to 4 or 5; not this limited to the morning only sessions with sets A and B. I guess, it’s safe now to go back to how it used to be. If pink or red shirts could stand close together for hours in political rallies, why couldn’t children stay close together in traditional classes? If passengers could crush each other inside a jeepney or tricycle, why couldn’t children crush it all together inside the classrooms? I told you before. There isn’t such a thing as “new normal”. The “old normal” would always seep through the cracks and push its way and explode in front of our faces.


But as children go back to going to school in the morning and afternoon for five to six days a week with the fare increase, would not parents wish classes remain on modular in which they wouldn’t have to provide for public transport?


“The heart of man plans his way”


Proverbs 16:9 but the LORD establishes his steps.