A Certain Weekly Return Commute

It was a Thursday, but the day after it was a Muslim holiday, which also meant a long weekend.

Knowing that, I packed up my dirty clothes into the new traveling bag my maternal grandmother bought for me, a bag which, for convenience, I also brought to the sole class (Professional Writing, taught by a favorite storytelling professor of mine) I had on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Leaving the blue-green bag I used for most school days at the boarding house which I’ve been getting more used to, I also put the stuff I would bring with me to my family’s house into the pink bag I used for such return trips, including a book to read for my leisure in the provincial bus ride part of that expected long ride through the large yet tight roads of Metro Manila.

Though really, yet again, my earphones and the iPod Shuffle it was connected to took most of my leisure attention during said provincial bus ride segment during that day. It wasn’t like the airconditioned bus didn’t have its lights on as the night began covering the sky, nor did I find no fun in finding out more about how local pieces of fiction are doing lately, but I guess I was distracting myself a little too much about what I’ll be doing in the future, thinking about possible music cover projects and fanfiction ideas, stuff that felt easier to do with my favorite music filling my ears…but felt harder to do when I thought about how much stuff I had on my plate already.

Anyway, I still had to keep my attention up for the bus conductor, especially when he started asking for drop-off points, distributing tickets, and collecting fares.

And speaking of paying attention to the bus conductor, I paid him more attention than usual, as he was unable to give me a proper amount of change for a long while. Even if he managed to give me my change by the time the bus had gone past the tollgate to the city where my family and I lived, I don’t think I felt impatience at the level of exploding.

Now that sort of thing makes me think of how much all those long commutes through Metro Manila have made me more reflective. I mean, that time with the conductor wasn’t the first time I had to wait for a very long while for my change, and thinking about it some more now, I guess we’re in the same boat, being people with not enough smaller pieces of money for an easier transaction.

Still, I had more active distractions during that long wait, a wait which took around four hours, a length of time which was longer than the usual one-and-a-half to three hours I went through on one-way trips from my family’s house to my university and vice-versa. That sort of thing reminds me of my dad’s talk about how days like paydays and holidays usually had more traffic, so I guess I should have expected the longer wait, especially since a long weekend was coming.

Now, as for other ways in which I managed to get myself distracted, well, there was the TV, which I looked at while having to look over my shoulder because of how my seat had me facing the back, a part of the unusual seating arrangement of the low-floor bus I was riding. It did make ignoring the TV easier when the show started going boring for me, though. For example, there was a revenge drama at one point, but I did spend some time having my eyes on that, probably because a revenge-centered drama was something I found unusual in Philippine television. Said revenge drama I was watching was showing a confrontation between the deceptive and grudge-holding protagonist woman and the corrupt and crazed politician antagonist man the protagonist was driving crazy, and then there were the presences of the protagonist’s allies interfering with her plans, much to her irritation when they came to rescue her from the crazy politician’s attempts at violating her.

If you find yourself confused by the situation in that show because of my explanation there, well, I guess that’s to be expected from plots involving lots of liars, regardless of whether or not you consider those some of those liars as good people. And to be honest, plots like those are stuff that I want to make fun of through story-writing, because well-intentioned or not, lying is a pitfall that we often fall into.

Also, there was the evening news, but I’ve been paying less attention to news lately, especially when I’m not accompanied by other people who can process the stuff better than I can. Oftentimes, all I want to know are the headlines, as I think that I need to be in the loop somewhat, at least, especially at my age. Still, if it’s interesting enough, then I’ll go deeper past the headline of a news piece. That’s pretty much how I deal with news because most news pieces I encounter are stuff I find particularly draining, and/or stuff that are like hammers driving nails in too much. For example, I find people name-calling other people, and although I can understand why such things would happen and why it would even seem like a good thing, I’ve already found myself tired a lot of times by the hypocrisy of division attempts for the sake of unity, especially since I have noticed myself doing such things before…like those embarrassing comments I left on a bunch of political posts I shared on social media before.

Yes, I thank God very much for having my parents around to help me process such things better…

Oh, and on my commutes, I can’t really use gadgets bigger than my phone, so…yeah, I was also distracting myself with my phone during that Thursday evening. In particular, I was distracting myself with a game there, especially since I couldn’t access the Net much. It was a cat-themed high-score puzzle game, and it’s surprisingly entertaining despite my weak inclination towards high-score games…probably because it’s not fast-paced like infinite runners. That, and it has cats. I like cats very much, you know.

And so, with all those distractions, I managed to endure the pain building up in my rear from all those prolonged hours of sitting until the bus arrived at my stop. At least I hadn’t drank too much water before the trip, or else I would’ve ended up having an awkward time with wet pants again like I did once semesters ago. I had also gotten the proper amount of change from the conductor as well. Then, having enough money to spare and interest in buying some pizza from the recently set-up Papa John’s near where I lived…well, I decided to buy a promo set that consisted of three boxes of pizza, an order I made which ended up requiring me to wait for a shorter yet still considerable while again because of long preparation plus high demand.

Still, the pizza didn’t disappoint. I texted my parents about how I was buying pizza and going to arrive at a later time as well. But at the end of the day, something got me worrying very much, and it wasn’t the whole long commute back home. The problem, well…

I think I’ve been eating too much lately (Again, the pizza didn’t disappoint)…and I need a lot more sleep…which I deprived myself of during that night via extracurricular use of the computer (read: writing a month-end blog post I could’ve written the next day, because hey, months have two ends, and if there’s the end of the month, then there’s the start of the month).

Yup, I still have a long way to go, alright.

God Almighty keep on helping us all.


Rome: City of beauty, history and…#Pokemon?

CNS Blog

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Screenshot_20160714-162454 A Pokemon Go avatar in St. Peter’s Square.

ROME  — Pokemon Go, the location-based augmented reality game based on the popular animated cartoon, has swept across the United States and has made it here to Italy.

The most coveted Pokestop in Vatican City, however, is the least accessible one: the window of the papal apartment where Pope Francis delivers his Sunday Angelus address.

Using a mobile phone’s GPS and camera, players can catch and train virtual Pokemon as well as battle with other players at designated areas called Pokegyms.

As players walk around, they can reach designated areas in the maps called Pokestops where they can pick items, such as Pokeballs, unhatched Pokemon eggs, and other goodies.

The window of the papal apartments is one of the many Pokestops in Vatican City.

Given my schedule, I’m not one to indulge in mobile games as often as…

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The Overconfident Son, The Ugly-Voiced Mother, and Commuting

Author’s Note: Dear readers, I wonder how you felt when you first rode public transport alone?

During one blazingly hot summer noontime, the overconfident son strutted into his house.

“Hi, mother,” he said with a small smirk twitching out of his attempted pokerface as he stood on the doorway.

The mother was sweeping the living room floor when she heard her son. She gave him a very calm look with a very small smile, something that was a very familiar sing to their family.

“E red yur letest blug pust, sun,” she said as her broom sweeps became wider and blew more dust and dirt into various directions. “E dun’t thenk Ah nid tu tell yah whei weh’r trayeng tu titch yah, ‘cuz et sims lahk yah onderstend–Nuh, yah sim lahk yah nou bettah abaht perenting then os, sun.”

The son crossed his arms on his chest as he closed his eyes and fully showed his smirk. Before he could talk, though, a powerful broom sweep got dust into his face, causing him to cough and sneeze. He didn’t let that stop him from delivering his intended reply. “Ahem…no need for you to shout at me, mother, for I shall be leaving immediately. The suitcase over there,” and he pointed to the suitcase inside the house and beside the doorway, “contains all that I will need for living by myself. I was supposed to put the suitcase in a more convenient place, but I forgot to do that, so I had no choice but to go here and risk facing you. Besides, I prefer being direct and honest with people in order to prevent added problems. And I shall be–Cough! Cough! Agh!”

“EF YAH DUN’T WENNE FALLAH THA ROLZ HIR, THAN YAH’R FRI TU GIT ATTA HIR!” shouted the mother as she angrily swept the dust and dirt to her son’s face.

“Alright, alright!–Cough!–I was going–Cough!–to say goodbye already, mother!” The son quickly stretched his arm to his suitcase and tried to keep his balance as he stumbled away from his mother and her sweeps of dust and dirt.

“PROV AHT! PROV YAH SOPIREIARATY UVAH MI AN PERENTENG!” The mother continued shouting and sweeping, standing on the doorway as her son scuttled away from her and the bounds of the house.

“Yeah, I’m better, I’m better, I know better than what she knows…” whispered the son to himself as he walked on a sunlit street, tuning out the distant and continued ranting of his mother.

Suddenly, the son felt like his stomach was twisting and turning and making knots out of itself. That was a very familiar sign for the overconfident son.

As he stepped beyond the arched border between the quiet residential district and the wide road across it, the son stopped and stared at the roads ahead. He moved to a sidewalk as he kept on staring at the streams of motor vehicles and the lines of tricycles in front of him.

“Hey, you over there!”

The son turned to face a tricycle driver who stopped his vehicle right in front of the teenager. The nervous son replied with a silent stare at the driver who was looking at him from his seat.

“You going somewhere, boy?” asked the driver.

“…n-no…” the boy answered. It’s not like I was planning to go somewhere… the once overconfident boy thought. I was planning to make a surprise visit to a friend’s place…but I don’t know how to travel via public transportation by myself…I didn’t expect me needing to research how to do that…Damn it, of course I need to learn that! I always moved around via private transport or walking around with people like my family members! But moving around alone and via public transport…what if I get held up? Or robbed? Or mugged? Or kidnapped? Ugh, but I don’t know how to drive a car…and bugging people for petty stuff has gotten me into trouble so many times…

The tricycle driver, who was once in front of him, had already gotten a passenger and left the boy who had clutched his head with both hands, fell on his knees, and lightly banged his head on his suitcase repeatedly as he realized his weaknesses, his needs, his guides, other possibilities in living life, and other related stuff.

Meanwhile, with the strangely-voiced mother, who had calmed down quickly and finished cleaning the house…

“Hi’ll beh beck suun…” she said to herself. “…Hi dusen’t nou huw tu kumyut…Hi’ll nid tu bi tought kerfully suun…end hi’ll beh beck bay…nuw.”


The humbled son was already kneeling by the doorway, his usually messed-up hair even more messed up and drenched, along with the rest of his head, in sweat.

The mother smiled, turning her face into a somewhat wrinkled form of the face that once turned the heads of so many men who had never heard her voice before. She went to his son and hugged him again. “A’hm elsu surreh fur swipping dest un yah fez beck ther. Thet wez tu match. Eh, end yah lurnd yar lussuns nuw, sun?”

“Yeah, Mom…” the humbled son answered. “Please teach me to travel via public transport and all the related important stuff when we have time, too…”

“Wi well, sun, baht ferst, wash tha deshes ther en tha ketchen,” the mother said with a gentle smile as she let go of her son and stood up.

“Okay, Mom…” The son stood up and wore a gentle smile as well. “…and again, I love you, Mom…and thanks very much again for caring for me…”

“Yar walcum, sun,” the mother said as she watched her son march to the kitchen to wash the dishes. “Yar vereh walcum.”

The mother also chuckled as she saw her son still holding his suitcase while he moved to the kitchen.

And as usual, they went back to doing proper work.

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