Friday, July 19, 2002

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Katipunan

I never realized I'd have practical use for social skills until I entered college. Unlike my grade school and high school which was a walk away from home, Ateneo is actually quite a distance. Also, because I was too lazy to get a sticker for our car, I had to rely on carpools to get home from school.

The start of my freshman year was simple. I'd hitch along with my childhood friend, Fort, since we belonged to the same block and head identical schedules. This is due to the fact that we enrolled at the same time and even got late at the same time.

For the first few weeks, this arrangement was fine, despite the fact that I'd have to wake up really early to get to his house, and had to come home late since I was getting picked up from his house, which was in Pasig. Fort and I were together often, along with Therese, the girlfriend of John, a mutual friend.

And then, I stopped hitching with Fort. I could blame it on several reasons. For one thing, Therese was paying too much attention to Fort, and I was the person who introduced them. On one hand, I could say that Therese was starting to cheat on John. On another, I could say I was jealous of Fort. Then there's also the fact that I get home quite late because I hitch with Fort. I barely have two hours of free time left on my hands. But perhaps what did it was the fact that I was interested in accompanying Steph, my crush, to the bus stop and that happened an hour after Fort leaves Ateneo.

Everyday for three weeks, I'd be accompanying Steph to the bus stop, after which, I'd start worrying. How do I get home? For someone who's been sheltered most of his life, commuting was a concept known to me. The places where I should get down, however, were alien. I knew that to get home, I should take a jeep from Katipunan to Cubao and from Cubao to Ortigas. Of course I didn't know where Cubao so if I boarded a jeep, it might pass through Cubao several times and I would never know it. I postponed the idea of commuting while there are other alternatives.

The first thing I did when I got back to school was look for familiar faces. Since a lot of my batchmates got accepted into Ateneo and a number of them live near my place, that's where I started looking. This usually involved calling them up and asking for their schedule, but for most of my freshman year, it involved sitting and a lot of waiting at the parking lot.

My one consolation throughout all this is that I got to see a lot of people, met a lot of people, and befriended a lot of people.

Of course I don't always hitch with people to get home. I have dentist appointments on Thursday afternoons so I have my driver pick me up on those days. Of course since he doesn't have a car sticker, he parks at the street opposite Ateneo in one of the fast food outlets.

One day though, he forgot to pick me up. I was furiously mad and told him not to bother picking him up. I'd figure out a way to get home. Of course boasting was easier than actually doing. The time was 3:30 pm. I found a carpool but he was going home at 7:30 pm. I didn't care to wait those extra hours. At 5 pm, I left school and started to walk home.

At this point, some people would say why couldn't I just commute. As I said before, I didn't know where Cubao was. This walking experience proved to be an enlightening one. Some might argue that I should have taken a taxi. Taxis cost a lot of money. They're a last resort and it wasn't exactly raining at the time so I didn't need last resorts.

It should have been an easy walk if it weren't for the fact that I turned at P. Tuazon instead of Boni Serrano. I was walking straight for forty five minutes although it seemed like hours. Halfway through, I got a call from my friend asking me if I still wanted to hitch since he got off early. The time was 5:45 pm. I was halfway to my house. I told him my current location.

I continued walking until I reached EDSA. I should have turned right so that I could board the MRT but instead, I headed left, towards the direction of my house. Ten minutes away from my home, mom starts to call asking where I am. I told her I was near. By 6:20 pm, I got home. I decided that that event would never happen again.

Suffice to say, I learned where Cubao was, along with Ali Mall and SM. Since I did accompany Steph to the bus stops, I knew where I could get a ride. In the event that I couldn't find a carpool early enough for me, I started commuting home. There was also those trips to Cubao and back when I was scavenging for a book for Steph and I suspected that it was available in the Cubao branch of National Bookstore.

The second semester of my first year had a less "spontaneous" feel to my carpooling. Instead of waiting by the parking lot, not knowing who and when my ride will pass by, I started hounding for people's schedules. I was able to arrange carpools ahead of time so I didn't run the risk of having to commute or walk home. One interesting account was Ambrosio. I'd hang out outside his classroom just before he got dismissed. Because of that, I'd meet some of his classmates. Of course by this time, I already knew a lot of people.

My second year proved to be quite difficult in finding a carpool, mainly because I got dismissed later and quite a number of my former schoolmates went abroad. My most reliable carpool, Ambrosio, was one of them. However, it was this year that I acquired a gaming group and my GM (Game Master) happened to drive a car and passed by EDSA. What happened was that most of his players would be hitching with him going home, me included.

At this point, I was too dependent on carpooling and stopped commuting altogether. I found out how out of place I was when last summer, I had to commute home from Ateneo. The destination was supposedly Cubao but I ended up in SM Centerpoint. At that point, I took a taxi.

Right now, I'm back to hitching a ride with Fort going home. And strangely enough, I occasionally get to accompany Steph to the bus stop on Wednesdays. It's really strange at how it all ended up like this. Makes me wonder if God's playing a cruel joke on me.

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