Quijano: I went to Baguio and hugged a tree

Aileen Quijano

Bottoms up

IT WAS 45 minutes past midnight and we were still circling above Metro Manila, waiting for the captain to announce our final descent. Flight 2P801 from Singapore was already an hour delayed and we still have a bus to catch. No, not just any bus but The Bus – Victory Liner’s relatively new Deluxe Bus to Baguio City featuring an in-built lavatory, comfortable seats, free snacks, and most of all, free wifi! We have got to be in that bus. Not just because of the novelty of its cool features, but also – still high on Wicked The Musical, we couldn’t wait to defy gravity in Baguio City. Land the plane, land the plane now, I chanted like a witch. Our bus leaves at – I sneaked a glance at my pre-ordered Victory Liner ticket – OMG, in exactly 30 minutes. To avoid forfeiting our seats, we were instructed to check in already at, gulp, right that moment.

As soon as the airplane doors opened, my friend Jan and I hit the ground running,

raced through the mocking white halls of NAIA 3, glowered at the slow-moving lines at Immigration and grabbed our bags. We took the first car for hire – never mind the bloated surcharge – and urged the driver to catch the Victory Liner Deluxe Bus at Pasay Terminal. How could it be, that even at midnight, Manila’s roads are still beset with heavy traffic? Good thing the young driver was sympathetic to our plight – he wasted no time cutting through it all. Or, if I was thinking clearly at that moment, I could just say the driver was mad.

We reached the terminal just as the only remaining yellow bus was shutting its doors and crawling through the curve. I shouted and waved our tickets in the air, “Stop the bus, stop the bus!” Responding to the siren of distress, the terminal suddenly came alive. A car near the bus started honking for it to stop, someone helped us with our luggage and ran with us, one man shouted for another to pound on the bus, clueless passersby started shouting as well. For a brief moment there, I wondered, this must be the Pinoy bayanihan spirit at work. It was awesome experiencing it firsthand… if only we weren’t so stressed. The bus finally stopped. The stewardess (yes, the bus has one!) patiently opened the door only to tell us that, sorry, they were already full. I couldn’t believe it. After all the running, we still missed it. Worse, that was the last trip till morning – a sentence of frustration to the highest level. Thank you very much, Flight 2P801.

(To be continued next week...)

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