Saturday, September 25, 2010

Barkers

Barkers... What is a barker? Barkers are those people who help jeepneys get passengers and who help people get taxi cabs for them. Are they helpful? NO! Are they neccesary? NO!

Let me tell you why NO is my answer. First of all everyone can take a jeepney without a help from barker. The jeepneys should just have a loading area and people should be aware on where they are. Plus jeepneys have signs on them with their route. Most people can read a simple ABC. Jeepneys are not using any Greek letter for us to read. People just need to practice reading the signs. You can ask the jeepney driver or other passenger if you have any doubt that that jeepney would go to where you are going or not. I just find it annoying that these people get money from unneccesary job where they are just contributing to the traffic by walking around the road just to get passengers and push people to ride a full jeepney. Without barkers, the road will be much cleaner. Just accept the fact that you dont need them. Just read and ask!

One of the thing that I really, really hate from them is when you are trying to get a taxi. Most of the average places here in Philippines have no waiting area for taxis and you can't just call for a taxi to pick you up or it will be double the price. So you just have to wait wherever. During peak hours while you are in a rush trying to get a taxi, these barkers would totally get in your way. How? They would ask you if you need taxi. Since I can get my taxi on my own then I would say NO. There are also other people who needs taxi and if they said YES to the barker they would have to give them coins. Most of the time they give five pesos. I know its just a small amount but here is what's annoying, there is only one taxi. And since he would pass my way first then he would stop for me. But then these barkers would totally take the taxi out from under you even though you already open the door of the taxi and you are just about to get inside. The taxi doesn't have a choice but to follow the barker. I am not sure why. The next person who have a barker will get my taxi. Take note that I got the taxi first but it will not matter once the other people have a barker.

Did I ever ask a barker to get me a taxi? YES, but only some of the time, because it is what it is here. I even asked the taxi why they are allowing these barkers to take over. And one taxi said that it is their area and you have to just follow or else you wouldnt be able to stop and get a passenger there. Their area??? I don't know who is to blame here. Maybe, just maybe, if there are more jobs in the Philippines then these barker would be more helpful to the country and to the environment.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Taxi is King

My flight from Canada was very long and tiring. It got worse when my plane landed in Manila. I couldn't find words to describe this airport. I am not sure why they don't use the new terminal.

I dont know if my friend is going to make it on time to pick me up or if even he is going to pick me up. So I decided to just take a taxi from the airport to send me where I am going to stay for a week. My taxi driver is really nice. He got me a SIM card so I can use my phone because I look like I need it. I really appreciate it. He never complained wherever we go which is his job anyways. Finally we found the place and he helped me with my luggage. I knew he is up to something, as taxi drivers can't be this nice in the Philippines. There are some that are really nice and really appreciate their job but that's like 1 out of 10. They'll make you grow gray hair in seconds. As I was trying to get cash out of my wallet he started pleading to add more so that he can have "merienda". It is a snack in the middle of lunch and dinner. Usually I tip 10 pesos but since he knew I came from somewhere I decided to be generous and gave him 5 times more than my usual tip.Unfortunately he doesn't appreciate the 50 pesos and asked if I can give him Canadian dollars. I told him that I already exchange all my Canadian dollars into pesos so I offered him my HK dollars. He didn't accept it and he brag about having lots of HK dollars already. I said I was sorry that I can't give him anything.. I was nice because I just got back and I didn't feel like arguing with anyone.
That is just one example of my taxi experiences here in Philippines. Before I went anywhere overseas I was constantly in a fight with taxi drivers. They usually have this "I dont know the place, just guide me" syndrome or they have the power to choose who they are going to take somewhere.  And if they see you with a foreigner they would charge you more since they see dollars on your forehead. Whoever is responsible for transportation should really give attention to these driver's attitude.

I can't count the times when I had a taxi driver bring me somewhere and then ask you to add more because there is traffic in that area you are going.  Even worse is when they have specific amount that you should add. Sometimes they would not take you because they said there is too much traffic. I am thinking that they would rather hang out somewhere to wait for the traffic to be gone and not have clients at all during that time than to sit in a traffic and earn cash.

One time I was with a friend and we are going just around 1.8 kilometer away from my place. We took a taxi because we are not familiar with that area in Makati. My friend have the exact address but she had changed one vowel in the street name (for example from A to an O). What this driver did and what they usually do is that  they would open up their window and ask civilians that walk by or, if they got lucky, a traffic enforcer.  He was getting frustrated and he was taking it on us by bitching about how he doesn't know it. He asked one guy and corrected him and he started bitching to us about how he could not find it because my friend said the wrong vowel. I never really have a patience dealing with these kind of people so I kind of told him nicely, but sarcasticly, that no matter how my friend pronounce the street name he still doesn't know it.  He got so mad at me and said something like "NOT ALL THE TAXI DRIVERS KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING!!" then I said "that's the whole idea for taking a taxi so you can bring us there since we don't really know it." When we got out of the taxi he yelled at me with "next time Miss don't be a snob!" I wanted to yell back, "you should quit your job so that you dont have to bitch when you dont know a place." I just want the taxi driver to disappear because he is pissing me off so much.

There was also a time when the taxi driver is complaining a lot because my friend is not giving him the right direction.. He complains a lot saying that we took a lot of wrong turns. Since I didn't have anymore patience I asked him to stop the taxi and we got out and I told him to quit whining because he had the meter on and we have money to pay whatever the fucking bill is. I slammed his door. He then yelled at me saying that I could never pay for his taxi if it gets broken. Are you hearing this??!!! Yes these are the taxi drivers in Philippines.

I could go on and on but my blog will be long and boring. So I leave you this recent one when I had anxiety after the event. I was with my boyfriend this time and and we took a taxi from the apartment. The driver told us that he is just going to buy something to eat. Nice! I knew this was going to be a fantastic ride. After he got his merienda he started the taxi and we moved about 3 blocks away from where we were. I then noticed that he didn't start the meter. I told him to start it and he said "Oh, I'll just add more later." I didn't talk because I really didn't want to deal with this again. It's so tiring. It was a stressful ride since there was traffic and he keeps changing lanes. He didn't keep his distance from the cars in front of him. Things like this in the Philippines are normal but should not be allowed. But the MMDA are so busy talking on the corner or watching a plane go by so they don't care to stop drivers like this. My boyfriend is actually shaking his head from getting frustrated with him but he is patient so he just sits there quietly. I am usually the aggresive one and I would basically be the one to tell you that you suck but I changed. This thing is such a major problem in this country, nobody cares about their passenger or client. To them they take control of everything because they are KING.  We got to the mall and I looked at the meter and it was 47.50 pesos. I told my driver to just take 60 pesos out of my 100 peso bill. 100 pesos is not a big money but I am not going to give him all since I value my money. It's basically like taking 5 US dollars from 10 Dollars. He told me he doesn't have change. I was so nice to him telling him that I really dont have change and that I only have two 100 pesos. His tone was a little higher, "Here's your 100 pesos go take it!" My understanding is that he would just let us leave without paying because he doesnt have change. He then yelled at me with "HEY!! DONT LEAVE WITHOUT PAYING! For all I know thats what you really want, to not pay!" Those are his actual words. I mean seriously? I am giving you 60 pesos because I dont want to pay?!! I yelled at him back "Don't yell at me! It's not my problem that you don't have fucking change for just 100 pesos!!"  He took the 100 pesos from me and waved it at all the jeepneys that passed by. So basically he wanted me to find a way to get change  We were just at the entrance of the mall and all you can see is the security guard waiting to check your bag. Seriously, where are you going to get change? I was so pissed! He finally gave me my 40 pesos change, and still took the tip that I originally was going to give him!! After that I had anxiety because of what happened. Before this happened, I was under a lot of stress because of everything around here. Good service is just too impossible to get unless you spend big money at expensive stores or what not.

I realize that values and gratitude here in the Philippines are long far gone.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Finally something positive

I was reading some international news today and came across this article about the MMDA cleaning up Manila in an effort to prevent Dengue.

MMDA Begins Fogging Operations vs. Dengue


I just got back from Manila and I got dengue fever and got fairly sick. I was not able to fly back to the US because I had a fever and felt like I would not make the 27 hour trip.

While I really appreciate what the MMDA is doing here, there were a couple quotes that I found funny :

"“This is a wake-up call for all of us here in Tatalon. While it is they (the MMDA) who pitch in from cleaning and clearing of sidewalks and easements to removing tires on our roofs where dengue-carrying mosquitoes usually breed and eventually repairing the roofs themselves, we are now learning the ropes on how to take proactive measures in the clean-up and anti-littering drives,” BeƱega said." - Why in the hell does the MMDA have to clean tires off the roofs of the citizens? How the fuck did the tire get up there in the first place? Clean your own mess. Don't you have any pride about your home? How does it feel when you have friends over or a party and you have shit all over your house? "Hey, check out my stagnant water filled tire collection on my roof!" They are learning the ropes? It takes a government agency to show you how to not throw garbage on your roof?

The other funny quote was : "The program also includes clearing the sidewalks and easements of all forms of obstruction, bundling up dangling wires and cables on the streets, repairing and desilting drainage facilities, and dredging waterways and creeks within sight of the main road." Bundling up danging wires? How about bundling and organizing them as they are being deployed?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

SM Hypermart sucks

Boyfriend here...

The last time I was in Manila we went out to get a bunch of furniture for the empty apartment.  Sure, *she* had all the important stuff like refrigerator for my beer, TV to play my Xbox on, and an AC to cool me down when I was all hot from working out in that humid weather.

One day we went to SM and bought a very nice cabinet for all of our clothes.  It was close to $200 and that included the delivery service to bring it to the apartment and assemble it.  It was great watching these guys put it together during the middle of a hot Manila day and sweat all over the place.  We weren't jerks though... they got some nice cold, filtered water and a cash tip.

A few days later we went to SM again to buy a table.  We had been eating on the bed since I got there and it was not very comfortable.  We picked out a nice kitchen bar type table that included two chairs.  Granted, the table and chairs were a bit small for me, but it was just for the two of us so it would work.  The total cost was 2995 PHP (about $75) but we would have to bring it home and assemble it ourselves.  I love putting furniture together and have been doing it since I was a kid so I was up for the challenge.

As we were leaving SM, I see this old white guy coming into the store and he's accompanied by his "date".  His date was at least 4 inches taller than him and it was so painful to see how poorly his date tried to look like a woman.  Wow... I just hope this guy knew what he was getting in that package when he got "her" home.

The good thing about SM and having a cart full of stuff is that they take you to the taxi line and stand there until you get a taxi.  We barely got the box in the taxi and made our way back home.

I cracked open the box and started to assemble the table.  The instructions were lacking but I was able to figure them out.  I got down to the last screw and it would not go in.  I looked inside the hole and saw that the welding was poor and they blocked the inside of the hole with the crossbeam.  It was impossible to finish the table.  Girlfriend immediately called the store and they said they would come out over the weekend and fix it.

Two days after they said they would be there, they were still a no-show.  She called again and they said that we needed to bring the table back to the store and get a replacement.  She told them that it was too expensive and would take too long for our trip.  Once again they said they would come out and repair or replace the table.  This was on August 24, 5 days after we purchased the table.  Two days later and we did not hear back from them and the store's phones were always busy when I tried to call them.. for days! 

I have been telling the girlfriend that she really needs to put things in writing there because it keeps a paper trail.  She had called PLDT about 60 times and they show that she only called once, but that is a different story that one of us will tell.  I went online and sent feedback to the corporate office on August 26.  This is what I wrote : On August 19 I purchased a DS24084M Breakfast Table for P2995. After bringing the table home and assembling, I was unable to put the final bolt in the table. There was a bad weld spot on the table and it blocked the screw hole. I called the store and spoke to Aries in the Furniture Dept and he said he would send someone to fix the table on Sunday. Nobody came to fix the table and nobody called. On Tuesday, August 24 we called the store again and spoke to Aries and now he told us we needed to disassemble the table and bring it back to the store. This is unacceptable and an inconvenience as it will take at least 2 hours of my day for the roundtrip there and I will be forced to take an expensive taxi ride since the box is too big for bus/jeepney/etc. I will also have to spend time to disassemble what I have done so far and then reassemble when I get back to my house. I don't understand why I was told one thing and then days later when nobody shows up, I'm told another thing. On top of that, I never receive any return calls to explain the situtaion. It's been 8 days and I still can't use my breakfast table.

Today I realized that they never replied to my inquiry so I replied to the autoresponse that I got when I submitted the original request.  MAILER-DAEMON!  The email address that they use for their general complaints/inquiries was not even a functioning email!  Damn them!  I really wanted them to read my message : Wow. I kind of half expected the service that I received from the employee at the store but I did not expect to have my email to the corporate office unanswered for 17 days. Should I just throw this table in the trash? I spent 2995 php at your store for a faulty piece of furniture and NOBODY cares. I have spent over 75,000 PHP at your stores to furnish my apartment since I got back to Manila in May. I would appreciate a reply. It's not fun to have a table sitting in my apartment that I can't use.

I will find an executive's email address to send this posting to and hope that we get an answer soon. Meanwhile the table is just sitting in the kitchen, worthless.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Traffic is one of the "major major" problem in the Philippines..

Quoting "major major" from the representative of Philippines to the 2010 Ms.Universe pageant when she was asked "What is one big mistake that you've made in your life and what did you do to make it right?" and she answered with "Thank you so much Sir for that wonderful question, good evening ladies and gentlemen!!! good evening Las Vegas!!" (smiling awkwardly while people cheering),and she continued with "You know what Sir, in my 22 years of existence I can say that there is nothing major major problem, I mean problem that I have done in my life because I am very confident with my family with the love that they are giving to me so, thank you so much that I am here. Thank you Thank you so much.." and then she gave kisses to the audiences this time 10% of the crowd cheering.. I was left with mouth open and thinking "What the fuck?!!" Anyways it has been a phrase here in the Philppines and they are using it to anyway they could.

"I'm in a major major traffic" while explaining to a friend why she is late.
"It's going to rain pretty major major later" no matter how the sentences would not make sense they would still use it just for the fun of it.

Anyways, I really dont like going out or do anything outside. I mentioned in my Facebook page that going outside the apartment is giving me negative energy. I will elaborate all this in my next blog just to make it more detailed. But this day is different, I am forced to go to the nearest "Bayad Center" to pay for the birth certificate I ordered from NSO.
Before I went out I called the hotline for NSO and asked for the nearest Bayad Center from my place. They told me that there is one less than 5 mins away IF there are just like 10 cars outside. But of course knowing the Philippines, that's impossible.

So as I start walking outside. People already bug me because they are so confused on where to walk or who's going to the right or who goes to the left, so that alone takes about 1-2 mins figuring out who goes first and who should get punch in the face for not giving way. I'm exagerating this. But it's still annoying that even those people that just walk are still confused with where they are going or who should give way. I took a jeepney to get to where I wanted to go.

I have a habit of looking out at different kinds of people and think of what they might be thinking while walking or getting a ride to go somewhere. For example, people that are alone and accidentally slip but manage to balance themselves. And then I go thinking what's really going on in their minds. Or those people that look at some girl walking with a fat white guy; I mean what is going on in their minds at that very moment? I dont know, it's boring to just sit in the jeepney so my brain just does this automatically.

I got to that mall where the NSO told me to go. I asked the first security guard that I saw in there and he said that he didn't know any Bayad Center in the mall. I walked inside anyways. My clock is ticking because the NSO told me that Bayad Center might close at 6PM. I got there at 5:15PM. I walked around and didn't see it. Found a another security guard and I asked him where to find this Bayad Center. He told me that I have to go outside and then I would see a big sign saying BAYAD CENTER. I was hurrying, because I'm sure some people take forever to do a simple transaction. There is nothing outside, all I see is a facial clinic and a clothes store that looks like they were selling clothes donated to typhoon victims. I was getting worried, because I need my birth certificate really soon. NSO told me that they will deliver my birth certificate four days after paying them. I don't wanna waste time. I asked the third guard I saw, he said that there are no Bayad Center in that mall. Now I really dont know where to go because its almost 5:30PM. To my right is a bank and I decided to ask the guard who were outside to check if I'm carrying prohibited things before going inside the bank. I am still in luck, he said they are handling NSO payment. I know that most of the guards are not knowledgable of the things that they should know so I asked another guard in the bank, and 'Hooray!!' he doesnt know the answer to my question but he is nice enough to tell me to ask one of the employees of that bank. The first employee is acting busy, so I went and asked the second employee. She said I can pay for my NSO and that I just need to fill out the orange slip and I could go to any counter. After filling out the orange slip I waited in one of the lines. Later I realized that I was in the line with multiple transactions and there are lines for single transaction. The line went crazy all of a sudden and there are more people now in single transaction. There are now 5 people in front of me and 3 cashiers that are assisting atleast 25 people.  I keep looking at the clock and its 5:35PM. I felt a little relief because I am already in the line before 6PM.  The bank cut off is at 6PM, so I would still be able to pay for my NSO.

At 5:45PM, there are three people in front of me. I was finally assisted at 5:55PM. The cashier got my 1000 pesos bill and gave me the change. So I took a nice, deep breath and tried to put a smile on my face. Then she told me that the company name that I put on the form is incorrect. So they checked it out in their system and changed it for me. Then she said that my reference number is wrong. OK, now that is weird. I showed them my message from NSO reminding me of my reference number and the amount I have to pay. They looked at it and still say that it was invalid and that they only do Census. Census?? The supervisor then said that NSO and Census are the same. She asked me if I am trying to get a birth certificate and I said YES. Then she really insist that it should be Census. Ok so maybe I misunderstood the agent at NSO. They start inputting my reference number. Again its invalid. Now what?! It's one minute before 6PM, FUCK!!! I walked out of the bank disappointed.

There are two thoughts in my head that time. Go home and do it in the morning or try to pay at the closest other mall. Since its just a walking distance, I chose the second option. This three minutes walk is already annoying. Again people dont know where they are going. And some people seem that they are rushing and once they passed you they would start walking like they are on the fucking moon!!! I'm pissed but I need to be patient. Finally I got inside the mall. Their customer service is on third floor. I wanna try there because I paid my bill there last time but I am not really sure if they handle NSO. I was in the escalator and there are three fat bitches in front of me talking. They are using both left and right of the escalator, basically blocking my fucking way. I wanna say excuse me but they are laughing loud. So I said its ok, they will not use the next escalator. I'm doomed! They are going to the next floor too. They are still blocking my way. I couldn't handle it anymore because I was under time pressure. I said Excuse me and they are like snails when you put salt on them. Yay! I'm on the third floor! Hurried myself to the customer service. When I got there there are 3 people. It's a good indication that they still accept bill payments. I asked if they handle NSO. YES! they do.

Going forward to the traffic. Sorry. Got out of the mall and about to take Jeepney to get to my aparment. There are too many cars already. I rode in front of jeepney beside the driver. After 1 minute there I realize I made a wrong decision. Not only that I would inhale all the smoke from the car in front and right side of me, the driver stinks like he doesn't know the word shower. I sat patiently but this stupid moron wants to join the front with me and sat beside me and made me get closer to the driver. We moved 10 meter every 3 mins. Things got better when we were in the small intersection. There are no traffic lights and no MMDA to assist with the traffic. My Jeepney driver is such a genius that he makes a generous move of curving into the right side of the intersection. He ended up blocking everybody. His route is just straight for some reason he took the kindness of curving out of the straight lane that he supposed to do and blocked everybody. I sat there for 20mins. Witnessing all this major major argument between all the vehicles, most of them jeepneys.. Some of the drivers got out of their vehicles to tell my driver how stupid he is for curving to the right. My driver reasoned that he curved to the right because one of the cars can't go straight because there's not much space for him to maneuver. I wish I could have taken a video or a picture, but I'm scared for my phone. It's a lil high tech for most people around there.  Not to be arrogant, but I was once in the posistion where I had to fight for my cellphone with 4 snatchers. I was shaking my head because my driver have the guts to get mad when he started all the problems. I mean the road already has heavy traffic and he made it worse. He was yelling at that one driver who keep telling him to back off. Ok, I dont know if I am explaining it well, but my jeepney should have gone straight. The intersection has drivers that go from right, left and straight (opposite side of my direction). My driver got cut off by one car going to the left passing him but can't go since my driver is half way in the intersection. What my driver did then is a right turn and curved it so he can still go straight but then ended up bloking the way for those cars who wants to go left and right and blocking those cars who just wants to go straight. My driver is in a major major trouble. Finally someone showed up and managed the traffic. Finally we are out there. It was time consuming. My driver is not happy with how others treat him but he still didn't learn a lesson. He kept stopping everywhere to get passengers and kept changing lanes so he could pass the heavy traffic but actually he is contributing to it. When I said everywhere, it's everywhere! Like every 5meters! So imagine it is like a roller coaster ride with some technical error and you got all excited but it stops every 1 min and your head would bang back and forth. That 5 mins drive took like 30-40mins. I got off the Jeepney and gave a big sigh.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Welcome to my new blog!

As a native Filipino, I will be blogging about my life here in the Philippines as I count down the days until I leave this place forever.  Over the years, Manila has become more populous, more polluted, and more corrupt.  Simple tasks like getting my passport, picking up packages at the post office, establishing services with the phone company, ISP, electric, etc. are not straightforward and easy like they should be.

I hope you enjoy my stories!

By the way, I love to play video games and can't wait for Halo Reach to come out!