When I was much younger, there was this urban legend about drivers of Saulog buses. They would weave their contraptions through every road and overtake whenever convenient with wild abandon. The buses I took from our hometown in Laguna were definitely not of the Saulog variety, which had a monopoly of the Cavite to Manila route. We took old-fashioned BLTB, then under the management of German-Americans who settled in the country, or so my parents told me. Daredevils their drivers certainly were not.
When I learned how to drive, going to Tanza or further to Nasugbu and Matabungkay for a weekend swim with the barkada became frequent. That meant having to bear the traffic of the narrow national road between Dongalo in Paranaque and Zapote in Cavite, where I got first-hand encounter of what daredevils on the road of the Saulog variety meant. In wider Aguinaldo Highway, they were the absolute kings of the road. Stay aside, or get swiped by a speeding green and white Saulog rushing to Noveleta or beyond.
But last Tuesday, I got to see for myself how a Saulog driver could be both daredevil and a plain thug. It was about three in the afternoon, and we were cruising eastward along Quirino Avenue in Manila's fifth district, on our way to a meeting in Makati. Past the Manila Zoo, traffic slowed down because of those infernal pipe-laying dug-outs that Maynilad Water's contractors never could seem to finish. It's been going for months and months on end, making Alfredo Lim's City of Manila dug-out territory, with portions of major arteries closed to traffic.
But along President Quirino Avenue, from President Roxas Boulevard beside the sea to President Osmeña highway to the east, there are dug-outs to the left and dug-outs to the right, in helter-skelter fashion that makes driving a perennial headache. If you drive frequently enough in the Malate-Ermita-Paco area, you know what I mean. Even at night, you simply could not drive fast for fear of crashing into the fenced-off dug-outs.
So on this hot Tuesday afternoon, my driver went slow clip, as usual, on traffic that would intermittently flow and stop according to the lay of the dug-outs. Apparently, a Saulog bus impatiently dogged us at the back, its driver mad that my driver would not give way to his desire to speed off, even as perched high on his bus, he could see the obstacle course that all vehicles had to confront. I was talking on my cellphone at the time, and did not particularly notice what had happened. At one particular obstacle, when the Saulog bus driver thought he could pull off his overtaking stunt, my driver did not pull over to the side. Aba, Saulog hindi pinagbigyan? This particularly angered him, that when at a wider swath of road presented him with the opportunity, he suddenly opened his door, swung close to my vehicle, and shouted invectives at my driver.
"Kanina ka pa pinapatabi, hahara-hara ka!" To which my driver shouted in retort, "Bakit ka ba nagmamadali, e kita mong ang daming hukay!" then stopped the car. My driver even went down, and before I knew it, a running argument with the Saulog bus driver ensued.
As such arguments go, I heard my driver shout, "Gusto mo, bumaba ka dyan!" By which time, I was telling my driver to get back into the car. Then again, the Saulog driver pulled out a long pipe from the floor on the left side of his seat (or was it a rounded pole), and was about to come down, had he not been stopped by the bus conductor. I asked my driver to get the bus plate number, while the Saulog driver sped off. Hindi pala lumalaban ng mano-mano, kailangan may tubo pa, Kabitenyo pa naman sa punto ng dila.
It was Bus No. 798, with Plate Number DXS 583. It suddenly swerved to the right, northward towards Taft Avenue, at a clip that amazed the traffic aide in the center of the junction.
Always make way for the king of every road - a thug behind the wheel of a Saulog bus. Maybe Cavitenos have long learned to live with them, but heck, I'm a taxpayer, and I demand that the LTFRB under Thompson Lantion of Nueva Vizcaya and the LTO under Bert Suansing of Tarlac and Manila do something about thugs in their territory.
Reacting to our previous article entitled "Pay," August of Metro Manila wrote this classic: "If I were President Arroyo, I would resign if they don't give me a raise!"
Yes indeed. Why should she remain "overworked and underpaid"?
And speaking about the discriminatory philosophy behind securing the Senate building, which we also wrote about, reader Antonio Barrientos writes from as far as Canada:
"Minsan sinabi sa akin ng aming Director, the late Pacifico N. Aprieto of the UP Press at Textbook Board Secretariat na "kapag naka-amerikana ang bisita ay sasalubungin ng guwardiya ng po at sir at matinding pagalang, pero hindi mo alam iyan ang mga magnanakaw." (Loosely translated: When our security guards see men in suits, they greet these with utmost respect, little realizing that in truth, these are thieves.) "(At) Itinataboy natin ang mga 'gusgusin' na nagbabakasali na marinig man lang ang kanilang hinaing. (While we throw away the downtrodden who only wish to be heard.) We hate to admit it, but discrimination has become part and parcel of our culture as a people. And we need to go back to the times when we idolized men like Ramon Magsaysay and revered the writings of Apolinario Mabini,"
How very true.
As expected, nine of our Supreme Court justices finally wrote finis to the saga of truth versus obfuscation that is at the very heart of the issue of executive privilege invoked by Romulo Neri to slavishly protect his patroness in Malacañang.
Executive privilege is now legally enshrined, for what the Court says is part of the law of the land, as the "last refuge of scoundrels".
What a country!