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The Old Tiger Still Has Some Juice: the Batangueño Jeepney Driver Seemed Anxious to Meet the Creator

“Mama, bayad daw pô!” [Sir, here is the lady’s fare.]
“Ilan dine sa baynte?” [For how many passengers is this twenty?]
“Isa pô!” [One only, Sir!]
“Dal’wa?” [Two?]
“Isa pô!” [One only, Sir!]
“Ahh… Dal’wa!” [Ahh… Two!]

I’m sure Tatang, the driver of the jeepney I took on the way home, must have been in his seventies. He was frail, his cheeks were sunk in his face and he wore thick spectacles.

Betel nut and leaves, a.k.a. as nganga.

And he chewed ngangâ [betel nut and leaves] incessantly… I mean, everyone I used to know who chewed ngangâ had long ago passed into the afterlife…

But never mind the hearing deficiency, the old tiger still had a bit of fire in him behind the wheel! He tried overtaking another jeepney on the service road round a bend, only to run out of space and brake abruptly…

All arms inside the jeepney shot up simultaneously to grab the overhead rails…

But Tatang was unapologetic… When a van tried to overtake, he stepped on the gas to prevent it from getting ahead – only to step on the brake abruptly again when the van cut inside ahead of us!

The old man tried to prevent a van from overtaking.

Unfazed by either incident, Tatang showed no signs of either anxiety or anger, all the while continuing to chew his ngangâ

My guess is he has either seen it all or has got to the point where he simply does not care which way the Almighty decides to come calling…

My only problem with this is that I would have much preferred that he did not try to take anyone of us inside the jeepney along with him, the silly sod!!!

And because I sometimes try to visualize what I would be like when I get to his age, I tried to be a good citizen by sitting just behind him and repeating every passenger’s call of para – loudly, if I may add!

Three female passengers ride all the way to Batangas City… I wish them luck and pray they reach their destination…

[This story was first published on Facebook on 12 February 2008.]

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