SQUISHED LEGS! IN JEEPNEYS, TRIKES, AND YES IN INTERCITY BUSES. THEY WERE DEFINITELY NOT MADE FOR US FOREIGNERS (or “For- En-Gers” as some Filipinos would say in their broken English). The fact of the matter is that none of the aforementioned vehicles were designed for those over 5 feet or those who are obese like me.
Lately, I have been traveling with my family to the Island of Mindoro, in the Philippines, where my in-laws live. It is a beautiful Island and yes even the trikes are built slightly bigger to accommodate foreigners. As I was traveling, from Capas Tarlac, Luzon Philippines to San Teodoro, Mindoro, Philippines I relearned very quickly that I either have to adjust Physically and in my attitude, or I will be very very miserable. First off, We got to Capas Tarlac, from our Barangay, and were waiting for a bus. 2 HOURS. It wasn’t that there weren’t buses coming frequently going to where we were going to but rather, that they were all full. we waited for approx 2 hours before being able to catch a bus that had empty seats. (as opposed to standing all 4 hours until Cubao). You would think that I would be grateful that I had a seat, (And I was especially after waiting 2 hours) but the seats available had no leg room at all. I mean it was worse than the leg room available on an airplane (which is pretty bad). On the bus, it wasn’t piles of personal and vegetable bags (although there were some) but piles of people crammed onto a bus. I’m guessing on that bus there was probably a seating capacity on that bus of perhaps 72, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were 85 or 90 on there. The mindset of the Average Canadian is that we like to have personal space rather than being crammed in like sardines into a sardine tin. However, the Mindset apparently of Asians is that they are used to being in very tight and confined spaces and almost seem to enjoy it. (Just my perception). As for me, I find myself being a little bit on the clusterphobic side, needing some basic space.
The second bus was a little better but later in Mindoro, would find my legs falling asleep from having them pushed at odd angles in the jeepney going from Calapan to San Teodoro. Piles of personal bags, bags of vegetables and others things all were piled in the middle where our feet should have been. I know I should not complain but this was ridiculous. My feet were just between the tingling/pain stage and falling asleep stage. My ankles, (as I would later discover) were swollen up to the size of large oranges.
So why do I write this? Do I write just to complain and whine? (well, perhaps a little). Really I write this because I want to express some of the life lessons I learned. There are many things in life that are inconvenient, cause pain, suffering, and hardship. If you travel to third world countries, you will likely see it quite frequently as I do. In North America, we get so caught up in the “nice life mentality” where things are always, or frequently comfortable, and there are few inconveniences. We have sufficient leg room on buses, trains, and other vehicles, food is (relatively) fast food where we can within 5 minutes have our food ready for us. Buses arrive frequently and on time, Customer service is good (or sometimes anyhow), Government and other agencies are more or less free of corruption (or at least it is not as noticeable); basically, many of the things that we take for granted in North America, cater to our mentality of meeting our needs in the here and now. It Caters to our mentality that We want things quick, efficient and without problems. We want things fast and on time. I have been to the Philippines a number of times now, for a total of about 4 years. I love the Philippines and in
I love the Philippines and in fact, there are things in the Philippines that I prefer over Canadian culture and practices. But despite my numerous trips here, I still find that there are things that I have to yet adapt to in terms of my way of thinking. I still have to a large degree this “nice life mentality” and largely expect that to some degree I will be catered to. I expect a level of customer service that is equal to that of North America, I expect that bus lines, Jeepney, and trike drivers will want to please their customers and give decent leg room. I expect that there will be a level of respect and courtesy gave that is equal to that of North America.Perhaps this to some degree is true. In North America, we live in countries that are so heavy on the rights people have demanded rights but often have forgotten responsibilities.
This blog might seem a bit heavy for some, But I myself am finding myself (sitting in my home in the Philippines) being very contemplative, wondering if perhaps I am being too demanding. Are my expectations of the country, and the people in it too high? Why do I have the right to inist all theses things despite being a “guest” in the country? Yes there are expectations that people have (and should have) that are based on an expectation of goodness, what is right, fair and honest. But often we mix up however our rights and what is “owing us” or “what is rightly due”, with what is good right fair and honest. It is amazing how being in another country can make one very contemplative, and thinking about things such as this.
This is not to say that there are not good reasons to be critical or demanding at times such as defending human rights and dignities, or having a righteous anger when one sees that so called “followers of Christ (aka believers) are falling for the lies of the devil, or that Governments or others are purposely contravening God’s laws purposely perverting truth and making it lies; and putting in policies into place that are clearly against God and his Word. In cases such as these there is little we can do except pray and give it into God’s hands; letting Him deal with it.
It is much easier to complain, criticize, and be demanding, then it is to be quiet, humble, and accepting those things that one can’t change. Not to make excuses but I think that when one goes into a place where everything is different culturally, it is extremely hot, and there are many things that are backward and seem to be nonsense, (especially when one is a no-nonsense type of person) one is quick to jump to having these bad attitudes. I know that I am very quick to jump to conclusions, complain, criticize, and am demanding at times and that it is something I need to work on. I apologize to all those that I am quick to get angry with, or be demanding of. I realize more than ever that the Lord still has a lot of work to do in me, and my life is witness to all that he has done and yet has to do so i am more like Him in every way.