Sunday, November 8, 2009

Metro Manila City Train Blues

Getting a south-bound Metrorail Transit (MRT) ride at 8am in the morning in Cubao seems to require both brains and brawns, doesn't it?

The crows of humanity at the MRT platform in Cubao. I risked my life to take this photo.

I reminisce the time when the MRT was so new. At that time almost everyone resisted it one way or the other. Riding the MRT then was as easy as drinking a cup of coffee. All you had to do was walk (and climb, which was the only hard part) to the station, buy a ticket, wait for the train and walk in!

In fact my wife and I were there the first day they opened the MRT to the public. The rides were FREE for a few days. After two years of suffering on the ground (traffic was horrible as they constructed the train), finally the entire two-hour harrowing procession of buses and cars on the ground below was reduced to a 24 minute sweet ride on the MRT Track from end-to-end, inclusive of stops!

It was experiencing the swift ride for the first time in years that was the source of great ecstacy, and that ecstacy lasted for months! Hallelujah!

That was then.

The pushing and the shoving at the MRT station is now part of the Metro Manila lifestyle.

Now, the swift ride is still there, but it's the waiting time at the platform, the pushing and shoving once the train arrives and the crowd inside that really test your wits. Now I have greater respect for tuna fish in sardine cans. But then all that in fact are just the easy parts!

The toughest parts of the experience are the excitement of seeing a new train arrive, and then the depression the next second of seeing the train full to the brim, and the loneliness as you see the train leave without you. Repeat that ten times in a row and then you get the idea of what the words "emotional roller coaster" mean.

By the time you get to Makati, a half day's energy is gone and you spend the rest of the day with what's left :) Some can tell you be grateful you still have some left!

Well, it doesn't have to be that way.

Thanks to all the self-mastery seminars and workshops I went to. I'm responsible for what I feel, not the train and the pushing and shoving. I take control of that by managing my thoughts.

This is not Jedi stuff. This is real everyday thing.

I think of funny and exciting things. Like, these guys are here because they don't want to be late for work in the companies that I own. Oh, that's exciting. That makes the pushing and the shoving more bearable.

Or, I tell myself to fully experience the blues so that I can effectively relate with a hundred thousand people who pay a fortune to hear me speak about how warm and loving Filipinos are, and how everyone will benefit by contributing a peso a day to buy more trains.

This is not escapism. This is about fully experiencing the moment, deciding which things you cannot control, deciding which ones you can and then deciding that all these won't matter in five years if you choose to.

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