It's no coincidence that I tuned in to Oprah Primetime at Star World Asia last night. Last week, the show was a replay of when Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and J-Lo had been promoting their movie Shall We Dance

Having vaguely heard Oprah say that it was supposed to come out sometime in early November (I think), my first thought was "Robert was a guest on the November 23 show!" (I knew about that thanks to my co-egroup members in Last Party, a Robert Downey Jr. fans mailing list). Yep, I'm talking about last year. We still get reruns and replays of a lot of US shows here in Asia and I'm thankful that I get to see what I missed the first time they were shown.

I call it woman's intuition. When I gauged it time for Oprah to start, I switched channels and waited for the opening footages. Lo and behold, my guess was right! RDJ was present in last night's rerun! Finally, I got to see the whole show from start to finish (saw it twice before but only halfway) and it made me so glad to see him well and happy. Such a talented actor. He has found the love of his life and I wish him and Susan Levin a lot of happiness. They're getting married at the end of the month and I sure wish I could be there. Hah! Here's to keep on dreaming!

To Robert Downey Jr., may your personal life stay wonderful and may your career soar higher. Here's looking forward to more great movies with your inspired characters this year and beyond …

Is this the world we created
We made it on our own
Is this the world we devastated
Right to the bone
If there's a God in the sky looking down
What can He think of what we've done
To the world that He created

Those words came from a song I first heard sung by The Corrs although I just found out that it’s not one of their original compositions :p

Anyway, what I want to say is, it’s so depressing how some people treat the earth shabbily. Just this afternoon, as I was on my way home from buying groceries, I had this fellow passenger in the jeepney who was eating a hamburger and drinking something from a plastic cup.

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I was deep in reverie, thinking of my upcoming interview for an article I am writing, when there was this awful clatter that had me snapping my head towards the sound. It turned out that the woman who was eating a while ago threw her food wrappings outside the jeep’s open door and the loud sound came from the plastic cup falling on the middle of the street.

I was so enraged at the blatant disregard for the environment that I almost shouted “You’re such a pig!” to the woman. Not wanting to appear crazy, I had to be content with eyeing her malevolently for a few seconds.

My husband and I are advocates of recycling and waste segregation, which we really apply at home. Our kids are trained to hold on to wrappers when inside a public utility vehicle or anywhere outside the house if they can’t find a trash can immediately. They know enough to directly throw their scratch papers at the sack we designated for paper products or their fruit peelings at the compost bin.

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Once when I fetched the kids at school, I saw Joshua walking around with a candy wrapper in his hand. I broke off my conversation with some moms to ask him why he seems to be walking aimlessly around the playground. He answered me with “Cause I’m looking for a trash can Mommy.” And I saw amazement in the other parent’s faces. That moment sure made me proud.

So imagine my disgust at seeing a grown woman acting more immaturely than my kids. Sometimes I despair of not ever seeing clean streets in my country. Oh, but I loved Davao City when I went there before (circa 1992) because that is one clean place, with citizens disciplined enough to throw their trash in the proper places. I hope it’s still that way there now and I just wish there are more Filipinos who care for the environment.

While driving on the highway, we often see windows of fancy cars like luxury sedans or SUVs opening and a hand would pop out to throw away something. *sigh* Even rich people just don’t care enough.

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And that is such a sad thing. I wonder how else I can educate these people aside from ranting about them in my blog and writing magazine articles on the subject? Hmmm, any ideas?

Sharing Music

For so long, I’ve been bemoaning the fact that prices of audio CDs are exorbitant. Thus, it is impossible for a person like me (a mom who has to prioritize her family’s needs to her own) to purchase music I really love listening to. So I just ask friends to send me mp3s or wav files they have of our favorite songs.

Recently though, I’ve discovered Limewire which a friend helped me install in my computer. It’s a kind of program that, when connected to the net, enables you to download audio (and even video) files that others have on their computer. They call it peer-to-peer sharing. And since Limewire only accesses folders you want to share, I find it pretty secure.

I’ve already found several hard-to-find songs that I’ve been looking for, for a long time now. Granted that my dial-up network is so much slower than DSL, I’m still able to download music albeit patiently because some do take a few days (depends if your host shuts down his/her computer prematurely and you have to wait for another chance of being simultaneously online again to finish your download).

Anyway, you music lovers out there might want to try it out too.

A Complaint Letter

I just hope the LTFRB people would really read my letter and take some actions. If not, well I'm posting it here so a lot of you would know that there are still citizens like me who simply don't take things as they come and forget about them. Otherwise, there really would be no changes for the better for this beloved country of ours.

LTFRB Chairman
Ma. Elena Bautista

Dear Ma’am,

Last Saturday, July 30, I rode an airconditioned RRCG bus with plate # TWR 314 from SM North Edsa to Alabang around 12 noon to 1:30 pm.

I would like to inform you of what happened because I feel that my fellow passengers and I have been unjustly obliged to pay fares that shouldn’t have been collected. I’m sure your agency is the right one to report this to.

I was traveling with my six-year old son who just had his music lessons in UP Diliman. When we boarded the bus, the conductress came near and I told her I’ll be getting off at Alabang. She asked me “Ilan?” [How many?] and I answered “Isa” [One] because I plan to have my little son sit on my lap if ever the bus gets crowded. She gave me tickets for P72.00. Not knowing how much really are the fares from that area since it’s been quite a while that I traveled from there to Alabang, I paid the amount. But I had a niggling feeling that something is not right because I usually pay P35.00 from Alabang to Philcoa which is not really that far from SM North.

When the conductress passed me by, I asked her, “Ale, magkano ho ang bayad galing [Ma'am, how much is the fare from] SM North pa-Alabang?” She told me “P36.00 isa [each].” So I inquired “Eh bakit ho dalawa ang siningil nyo sa akin?" [Then why did you collect fares for two people?] Without any warning, she shouted at me “Aba, may bayad na yan! Alam ko dahil inspector din ako!" [That kid should already be charged! I know because I'm also an inspector!]” I was taken aback by her defensive tone of voice. “Eh di sana ho ang kinuha n’yong bayad pang-estudyante man lang,” [Then you should have charged him for student fare.] I replied. Again she shouted at me “Walang pasok ngayon! Nagtitiket lang ako ng pang-estudyante pag may pasok!” [There are no classes today! I only give student discounts when there are classes!] And she walked away in a huff. Would she have listened if I told her that my son came from a class? I doubt.

I opted not to continue the discussion. I didn’t want to stretch the argument with a person who apparently does not see reason. On my part, if she had only stated outright when she collected my fares that she’s also charging my son because that is their policy, then I wouldn’t have argued even if I had felt taken advantage of. In the first place, she shouldn’t have asked me “Ilan” [How much?] if she has already decided to charge my preschooler’s fare.

May I ask, why in the world did you guys in LTFRB mandated that student fares are not applicable during weekends??? Does the status of kids change during Saturdays and Sundays? How come nobody even thought about make-up classes or extra-curricular school activities like Scouting or CAT, and in my son’s case his music lessons, that are sometimes held on weekends?

Also, what are your rules about fares for children? Isn’t it understood that preschoolers can be carried on parents’ laps and should not be charged for fares? Last Saturday was the very first time I experienced paying for my youngest son’s right to ride a public vehicle. We have traveled every weekend since summer from Laguna to Manila and some of the provincial bus conductors even ask politely "Mam, ibabayad ho ba yung bata o kakalungin?" [Ma'am, are you paying for the child's fare or would you be carrying him?] At least they inform people that they have a choice. But most of the time, conductors take little kids for granted and ask only the adults to pay fares.

Before I got off the bus, another mom who has two little kids with her (around ages 5 and 6) sat down behind me. I couldn’t help but ask if she was also forced to pay for her kids’ fares. She confirmed my suspicions adding that she had argued too with the conductress to no avail.

I know P36.00 is just a small amount and I can simply let it go with the fatalism that most Pinoys [Filipinos] nowadays believe “Ipasa-Diyos na lang.” [Let God handle it.] But I can’t help thinking of other commuters who can barely afford to ride busses and those people who will be future victims of the unscrupulous conductress and others like her thus this complaint.

I repeat, it was an RRCG bus with plate number TWR 314. On the driver’s sun shield, there’s a red sticker of the name “Alex”. The conductress con inspector has short hair, may be in her late 40’s or 50’s and has moles on the top and bottom part of her lips on the right side of her face. She was wearing a military beret, has a brown Seiko watch and wore “Sketchers” shoes.

I would also like to add that I have ridden RRCG busses before who cut trips. They have Fairview signs when they start off from Metropolis in Alabang, but would tell the passengers to get off in Cubao and transfer to another bus because they’re changing destination to Monumento. Even my aging mother who once accompanied my son to Diliman, and whom I specifically instructed to ask the driver first before boarding the bus if it’s going directly to Philcoa, was asked to get off in the middle of EDSA. It is so inconvenient especially when you have a kid with you!

I am reporting this because I know a lot of these things happen and nobody seems to be doing anything about it. I hope that you would take action and investigate the matter. Please have pity on common citizens whose desire is to be treated fairly in spite of all the shortcomings and bad happenings in our country today.
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