Thursday, April 23, 2015

Getting a Driver's License: A Comedy of Errors

It's been four months since hubby bought me a car but I haven't really 'owned' it yet. You see, even with driving school education plus extra hours of driving lessons with my driver, I couldn't use it yet because I didn't have a driver's license.

I've heard of horror stories in getting a driver's license and know of countless people who have taken the 'easier way out' because of LTO's reported dismal licensing process. Here's an account of my experience:

1. Arrived at the LTO at 8:00 in the morning. Even before I could get out of the car, fixers were already 'greeting' me, like a pack of hungry wolves eager to attack their next prey. Caution: Do not let them bite you. 

2. I asked the guard stationed at the entrance as to the first step. He told me to get a medical exam and drug test first. Not knowing where the testing was, I asked him for directions. He called one of the fixers, a drab-looking, old woman, to take me to the testing center, which was right across the LTO.  I wondered whether the security guard was only trying to help me or is in cahoots with the fixer. That didn't seem right. 

3. The old woman led me to a small, dingy space with a tiny signboard that read 'LTO accredited physician'. There sat the doctor, who looked rather uncomfortable in her seat due to poor ventilation. It was still the old woman who measured my height and facilitated my Snellen eye test. How lovely. After paying Php100, the doctor accomplished the medical exam form without even asking me about my health issues or my medical history. A few scribbles, and then she handed me the form with the official receipt. On the form, the doctor indicated I was 54 kg. Well that was my weight before I got pregnant. Haha

3a. There, another woman whom I had mistaken for the doctor's secretary talked to me about getting a 'seamless transaction'. All I had to do was pay Php2800, which she secretly scribbled on a piece of paper. 'Ayaw kaguol ug sayop imo tubag sa written exam maam. Luto na na siya. Kaila man nako ang lecturer'. Oh wait, but I did study for the exam. Surely she didn't think I looked dumb and thought I was ill-prepared, did I? 

4. Adjacent to where I had my medical exam was the drug testing center, where I paid Php300. After submitting my urine sample and fingerprints, it took me about two hours to get my results. 

5. I went back to LTO to get my priority number. Transacting from one window to the next was relatively fast. After paying Php167.63 (application and computer fees), I was led to the lecture room cramped with examinees. The AC, which looked older than Bette Davis, was not even helping to cool the room at all. The written exams followed right after the lecture. Frankly, the  exam was too hard - too hard not to pass because the answers were just shown right in front of you. Haha!

6. I finished the exam just in time for lunch, after which we would come back for the results. After a quick bite at a nearby mall, I returned and waited for my name to be called for the practical exam. The ladies were first called in and led to a bus station right beside LTO. Because we didn't bring our own cars, we paid Php250 (with official receipt). After the LTO rep (whom I saw earlier transacting with the lady at the medical exam center) issued my receipt, I was told to go back to LTO for payment and releasing of my driver's license. The practical exam? It practically never happened. Haha again! 

7. After paying Php417.63 (license and computer fees), I waited a little more for my card to be released. Voila, I finally got my driver's license in shiny plastic. It took me about 6 hours to get everything done, and paid a total of Php1235.26 in standard fees. While waiting for my driver to pick me up, I thought to myself that if I had taken up on the lady's bribe, I would have paid four thousand bucks, and would only end up hurting not just my wallet, but my intelligence as well. 

Realization: Sadly, getting a driver's license here is a joke. You pay for something that's hardly ever there or even none at all. (think medical and practical exams). The process leans more towards granting you a driver's license just because you need it, and not because you earned it. (think medical, written and practical exams). The stark presence of fixers and their blatant ways, coupled by the seemingly embraced condonation and apathy purport a microcosm of something far worse than what is being observed. (think again medical, written, practical exams - the entire process, actually). 

I hurriedly left the LTO as soon as my driver arrived. Out of nowhere, a man approached me and asked 'Maam, magkuha ka non-prof? Tabangan tika maam, dili jud ka maglisod sa exam.'

Sighs. Tomorrow will be another day for that man.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Here comes the rain again

I come home from work - tired, soaked in cold rain. I wanted to get home. I had to get home. The place I was waiting to get a ride home to was not too familiar and too cold to stay longer even. I had been shivering throughout the 2km ride, the driver braving the hard pour just to earn for the night. I am amused as to how he could drive still, although very carefully, with drops of rain hitting his eyes and never even rubbing them so he could see. I felt my eyes flush in pain, how could his not? 

He stopped one house before mine. He thanked me for giving him 20 bucks more. No, thank you for driving me home safely. 

I reached for the towel and texted him the usual Im-home-love (insert rain-was-mad-i-got-drenched), winding up like a needy cat. I washed the rain that might cause me the flu and made myself hot tea. There was no more water in the dispenser. Shoot. That burden of lifting that heavy 5-liter gallon onto the dispenser, and still not mastering the art of refilling it perfectly. About a gallon of water went slushing all over my kitchen. Change clothes, I was soaking wet again.   

At least the tea made me feel better. Looking at those swirls of hot air rising up into nothingness as i cupped the mug with my hands and sipping it's hot orange goodness made me feel warm, like having him to run hot bath for me, or him handing me that towel and cloak me warm, or him cuddling me cozy to sleep throughout this cold evening.

But he is far away. And he probably feels cold as I do now too. 

Sighs, rain. Why do you have to make lonely nights colder? 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Love in the time of disaster

Nanay and Tatay

Their house badly damaged, my grandparents moved to safer ground camping out in a makeshift tent in a remote barrio in Maribojoc. My grandmother has never left my 92 year-old grandfather's side, who is still recovering from a stroke. She has been sleeping on a wooden plank for several nights now; and when the rain would pour in the night, she would curl up her knees to keep her feet from getting wet.

When I visited them for the first time since the earthquake, I found they were not given their relief goods because 'they could no longer vote'. 

I'm casting aside my outrage at this utter disrespect to my grandparents, senior citizens who deserve to be given utmost attention and courtesy especially at this time of need. 

 But if there's one thing I realized, it is that true love will always stand the test of time that not even the most terrible of tremors can shake, much less destroy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Remembering Mama

There's a lady in the mirror whose reflection makes her caught up in a reverie of years long past; in bittersweet musings of what could have been if she were here. That lady is a spitting image of that one great woman - her mother.

Her nostalgia of that woman who has touched hearts because she loved them all, who was there for them when they needed her and gave what she had and her best, even if she didn't have much.

She, even to this day, has seen how people still remember her mother and have so many good words to say about her.

"I knew your mother. She was a good person."

"I was once a student of your mother. She was my favorite teacher. She was very good to her students."

"Your mother was so funny. We all loved her."

"I will never forget your mother. She helped me a lot".

It fills her still with so much joy that people's thoughts of her mother didn't just stop at her passing but have become fond memories, forever etchings of gratefulness for the things that she did and made them feel.

Thirteen years since she left and yet the longing still remains. Many a time she yearns to feel the warmth of her mother's embrace; to smell her familiar scent; to hear her infectious laughter; to listen and learn from her words of wisdom. 

The strong pining for a mother's love sometimes brings back the pain of losing her too soon. But when she looks at herself in the mirror, she smiles because she knows that even when she may be physically gone, she is with her. She has never left her side. 

She smiles because she knows that even when she is no longer around, her mother's love resonates through the people who love her and the person she has become.

I love you, Mama. I will forever miss you. And for all that I am and everything I will become, I hope I make you proud.

You will always live in me.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Officially engaged!

He asked, and I said Yes! :)

There’s always that one special moment when a man really sweeps you off your feet. It would be your most beautiful, most unforgettable. It happened one beautiful Sunday and I am still on cloud nine. 

I never would have thought that after all that we have been through and having come quite this far, we’d find ourselves to a place worth going further to – to a love that has not only been nurtured on halcyon days, but has worked through tough times. This is where we truly are.  

How could I not forget this? How could you not make me cry? How couldn’t you have taken me by the most beautiful surprise more when you proposed to me in front of the altar at the Basilica de Sto. Nino, took a beautiful ring out of the box, slipped it into my finger, and then said these words “I love you. With God as my witness, will you marry me?” 

How could you not touch my soul?

It was surreal. Beautiful. Perfect. We talked about settling down, yes, but he waited for the right time and he picked the best place to propose. The love that we have for each other wouldn’t be what and where it is now without God in it. Every day I thank God for giving him to me. 

You. My lover, my bestfriend. You, who, have been my pillar of strength, my joy, and my pain even. You, who, continue to fight for me even when I am facing my own demons; even when you have your own battles to deal with. We find ourselves knowing there is more to go, and I do not expect the road we are taking is easy. There was never a doubt in my mind what might lurk for us.  The thorns always come with the rose and that’s what makes it beautiful.

After all that we’ve been through, I know I have found myself to where I truly belong – with you. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012


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1. Ladies, if you suspect or catch your partner cheating on you, never confront the other woman.  Yes, I've been cheated on twice in my past relationships and yes, it hurt big time. And if you ask me if I’ve been in that spot when the other woman was willing to play second fiddle to me, believe me, you have no idea. 

How I had reacted when I found out I‘d been cheated on was a far cry from what is commonly depicted in movies and teledramas where :  (1) two ladies meet face to face, exchange civil pleasantries, talk about the same man and then emotions spiral out of control during the course of the meeting.  Or there’s the more entertaining scene where (2) the lady meets the other woman face to face, engage in cheap talk, slap each other's faces and a cat fight ensues for more drama.

You get angry of course. You get angrier at your man and the other woman even. Sure you may find her to be at fault too; after all, it takes two tango. But no, you don’t confront HER. Firstly, the relationship is between you and your man. Not you and her. You don’t talk to her and ask about the score between them. You will never find the real answers to your questions. You put your trust in your man and he broke that, so why pin your anger on her?

Confront the other woman? And what, waste my time?

Besides, if your man really loved you, he wouldn’t have bitten the bait. If he really loved you, he would be strong enough not to give in to the seemingly bewitching but dangerous sorcery of an affair outside of your relationship. If he really loved you, he would have long called off and cut ties with her. But he didn’t, did he? Think about it.

Unless you’re willing to fight for him all the way, you can  drop your trust issues, take him back and forget about it or stand by him and remain suspicious. Whatever makes you happy. In my case, I cried a river, dumped the jerk, licked my wounds and got back on track. I've never been happier now.

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2. You can be happy with Mr. Right, and still get attracted to someone else. Reality check, even if you find the right person, there will always be someone who is better than him/her – more good looking, more intelligent, funnier, more sensible. There is nothing wrong if you find yourself getting attracted to someone else. It is instinctive and you can’t always control that. What you can do about it, though, is how you deal with it. The ball is totally in your court, you are not forced to act on it anyway. 

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3. A person's confidence is based on experience. So don't be afraid to experiment. While it pays to try to do good and be good, it makes sense to be bad sometimes. That's why you need those juvenile, sl***y, fuzzy moments to find out what you like, experiment and get it out of your system. In the words of Mark Twain, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." He couldn't have hit the nail more right on the head. Let loose a little but never forget to pray.

Monday, April 2, 2012

When I was little...

with my sister 

1. I'd borrow my mama's chalk and eraser, write shilly-shallies on walls and play little teacher with my sister as the student. Then we would switch roles. 

2. I'd treat my wounds by myself. I didn't like mama telling me the "I told you" tirade because I loved playing out and about a lot. 

3. I'd sit up straight on a table holding a newspaper and read out loud like I was a news anchor.

4. I'd direct a play using small, empty bottles as characters. I did the arrangements, script, voice-overs, the works. It was fun and a lot better than having a dollhouse! 

5. I'd make my own chocolate recipes - pudding, cookie fudge, cake - using soil. :)

6. I'd stop whatever I was doing whenever mama came home from work. She always brought something I really liked. 

7. I'd make coffee for my papa & serve it to him whenever he got home from work. I still remember putting too much sugar in it, but he'd drink it anyway. :)

8. Powdered milk was my favorite snack. Mama would keep the milk jar out of my reach and close the lid so tight because she knew why it was easily consumed. :)

9. I'd ask a lot of questions, it tested my mama's patience and intelligence. Haha

10. I loved to read: children's stories, textbooks, Ibon facts and figures, mama's Economics books, novels that had racy covers, descriptions on product labels, even my papa's electronics references (haha).  I carry on this love for reading until now. 

Oh my happy childhood.