How do we get there?
Five of our staffers were brave enough to take on the challenge (despite a mountain of schoolwork) of racing around Metro Manila to find out which route to DLSU was faster: the España way or the EDSA way.
They started the journey at SM North Edsa after a heavy fast food meal. Full and ready, the staffers set out. The teams separated at the alarmingly shaky North EDSA MMDA footbridge to take on the challenges that the Metro has in store for them.
Team Abu’s first ride: No 1 kilometer line on Fridays
Team Abu, composed of two writers and one photographer, sees that the infamous 1-kilometer line for the MRT-3 North EDSA station is nowhere in sight. This was supposed to be their route, but not wanting a quick and comfortable train ride, Team Abu waits for a bus on the West Avenue platform and they find an air-conditioned one going to Buendia.
Team Michi, on the other hand, composed of only a writer and photographer (their other member backed out in the last minute), goes back to SM North EDSA after wandering around clueless. According to the friendly FX driver in the Trinoma Terminal, most Manila-bound shuttles are at the SM North EDSA terminal. The duo then crosses the overpass at the other side of Trinoma and sees the Philippine Medical Association.The team goes down to the terminal and instead of riding the FX to Taft, they board one going to España. The FX leaves at 10:13 am.
Team Abu: ABC easy as 1, 2, 3
After two vendors offered them peanuts, Team Abu pays the PHP 32 bus fare to Buendia, a fair fare considering the comfortable chairs, air-condition, and loud OPM music of the bus.
It suddenly stops in the middle of the road on Aurora Boulevard. A platform is literally beside the bus, but at least it fills up and gets more passengers. Isn’t that what traffic rules are for? After eight full minutes of waiting, the bus finally moves on to Annapolis.
Abu, the team leader, starts to feel a regret over riding an uneventful bus.
Team Michi: Smooth Sailing
The two staffers, Michi and Joyce, sit at the only available seats which are actually the farthest from the driver. The girls aren’t sure how much the fare is, so they pay PHP 50 for both of them. Not receiving change, they assume that the fare is PHP 25. The trip is comfortable, except for the sun rays hitting them through the back windshield. Also, the inside of the vehicle is extremely hot, either because the air-conditioning isn’t working as it should or the FX is just packed.
As they passalong Banawe Street, they see the iconic Chinese restaurant, Ma Mon Luk.
Team Abu: Anna-police
Tall walls welcome the group as they enter EDSA-Annapolis. Squeezing EDSA, where hundreds of suhol exchanges, are the homes of the men and women fighting for the country: the National Headquarters of the Philippine National Police (Camp Crame) and the General Headquarters of AFP (Camp Aguinaldo).
At this point of the trip, Team Abu’s photographer, Jan, starts to get comfortable in his seat.
Team Michi: Manila, Manila
Not too long after, the duo enters Manila at 10:32 am. The two feel uncertain since there were no clear signs and because the FX passes through unfamiliar streets. Michi then bases their location on the green street signs. Joyce continues to talk about her lack of experience in commuting and the basketball game that she has to cover later in the afternoon at the San Juan Arena.
At 10:35 am, the FX passes through España. As they cross Lacson Avenue, the staffers go down at the University of Santo Tomas because it seems like the safe thing to do since lots of jeepneys pass by the historic school.
Team Abu: Cars and Filipino pride
After passing the car heaven that is known as Greenhills, the group sees a familiar statue, the symbol of Filipino pride and faith: the EDSA Shrine. One of the members of the team, Keian, being a self-proclaimed commuting expert, proudly identifies Robinson’s Galleria, SM Megamall, Asian Development Bank, Saint Pedro Poveda College, Holiday Inn, and the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel. Abu and Jan feel very proud of his vast knowledge.
Team Michi: Growling Tigers (and tummies)
They board another FX that has ‘SM Fairview-Buendia’ painted on its side, as per the suggestion of Joyce, because its sign board says “Taft” on it. They sit on the seats farthest from the driver again, but Michi’s seat isn’t as comfortable, since there was only enough space for half of her on the seat. The other passengers did not move that much to give the girls some space (Thanks).
There was a bit of traffic along Quezon Boulevard and they passed by Far Eastern University with the air conditioning still showing no signs of improvement. The FX continues to move at a crawling pace and hunger begins to engulf the pair, especially Michi, who now thinks her breakfast wasn’t enough. Joyce now says that she still prefers riding the train.
Team Abu: EDSA theme park
“This ‘adventure’ is turning into just a normal commute to DLSU,” thought team leader Abu after almost 40 minutes in that comfortable bus ride. She pushes the other two to come down from the cold bus, hoping for a more eventful trip to La Salle. The team go on a non-air conditioned bus headed to Taft, and it looks like it’s as old as EDSA. They pay PHP 15 to the kind conductor.
Riding a new bus is a good decision. Luckily, the driver steers the bus as recklessly as possible, making the bus feel like a theme park ride. At one point, the bus goes faster than the MRT. This excites the trio as they finally feel the ‘real’ Manila caressing them with smoke from unkempt vehicles and the smoldering heat, the key ingredients for an outburst of very uncomfortable neck sweat.
“Ano, paparty ba tayo dito?!” an adrenaline-fueled Jan shouts while pumping his fist in the air as the three of them literally bounce off their seats.
Team Michi: Taft Neighbors
At 10:54 am, the pair pass by Lawton. After a few minutes, they pass by Manila City Hall near the National Museum, where the works of Luna, Hidalgo, Amorsolo, Rizal, and many other Filipino artists are housed. Taft is home to many important places such as the ever historic Rizal Park, the Supreme Court, Manila Science High School, Philippine General Hospital, and UP Manila.
Passing by Philippine Women’s University, they feel that they are now near La Salle.
They wait in anticipation to reach their target destination.
Team Abu: Pasig River
After passing by the many billboards of Boni, Team Abu arrives in Guadalupe. The smell of the air suddenly changes and so do their faces when they smell it. This only means one thing: Pasig River.
They pass Makati and Buendia, still bouncing in the bus without any safety handrails or seatbelts, slowly feeling more and more like urban daredevils.
Team Michi: Hail, hail, hail!
As they pass Quirino Avenue, they now feel a rush in their blood. This can be because first of all, they just rode past DLSU’s Br. Andrew Gonzalez Hall and because they haven’t had any updates from the other team. The chances of arriving first are high.
After passing North Gate, they encounter another issue. Where do they go down? Michi shouts, “Sa La Salle lang po.”, but the FX doesn’t stop. It’s not even on the rightmost lane near La Salle. Good thing the traffic light turns red and the FX stops in front of McDonald’s. Just like the previous ride, they leave swiftly.
At 11:08 am, the team arrives at South Gate. Sweet victory. They celebrate with a snack from the school cafeteria.
Team Abu: The last ride
Team Abu arrives at the MRT Taft station at exactly 11:11 am. They receive a text from Michi saying that they’re already in school. Team Abu couldn’t care less. “I’m sure OUR commute was much more exciting than theirs!” assures Abu.
Not feeling bitter, the team rides a typical jeepney to Vito Cruz, pays PHP 7 each (student fare) and embarks on the last leg of their adventure, consuming every last bit of detail that the Metro offers: the sweaty arms of a fellow passenger, the smell of the large palengke that is Libertad, and the scenes of people trying to get a bus in Buendia to take them home.
“It was well worth the commute,” the three say in the jeep, not caring about their loss.
And at last, “Welcome to La Salle!” they hear no one say, but they can feel it.