Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cebu City's Youngest Conductor

As you could see from the picture, I of course do not mean an orchestra or band conductor hehe. It’s a profession in some poor countries like ours where the “conductor” collects fares of commuters. I was standing on the side of a road at Ayala Cebu and saw that the driver of a multicab in front of me was making funny faces to someone just front of his vehicle. First I thought that was ridiculous for a driver to be making such funny faces, but when I looked, he was teasing this boy. Yes the conductor of the vehicle in front.

I got curious and hopped into the vacant front-seat of the multicab. I knew there was going to be more of their making faces at each other. So I rode, not even knowing where these jeeps were going. Hah, I asked my driver and learned that his route was from Lahug to SM. I asked where the kid’s jeep was going and he told me it was the same route as both his and that kid’s jeeps are ‘04L’ – yep, if you don’t know just yet, jeeps in Cebu use those codes to signify their routes.

Aside from collecting fares, giving change and coaxing teasing my driver, that boy had the other role of banging the wall of the vehicle to signal to his driver to stop when someone was getting off and calling out for passengers. There were times his jeep would already start to run and he’d just follow and jump in. Hmm, dangerous. There was also a time he was counting money for change and was not holding on to anything. Whew! I asked my driver how old was the kid. So driver put out his head to a little bit outside and hollered for that question. The boy replied “doce” (12 years old). Golly!

Not that the scene is uncommon in Cebu or elsewhere – though they’re not too many. But this scene raised many questions in my head. Like? Is it really allowed? Doesn’t anyone in this city tell the social work department? How much does he earn? Ah, I asked my driver exactly that and the reply was “depende sa ilang sabot” (depends how much the driver and the boy have agreed at).

I could not help but reflect… in Cebu these days, I see a lot of boys who hop into jeeps and sing Christmas carols hip-hop or beatbox style to get alms from passengers. And many of them would usually start with telling passengers they are not thieves nor muggers. Why the explanation? Because they look like so, as they are healthy strong AND usually almost twice the age of our conductor above. I think, if at all, these boys (men) should be the one’s working harder at being conductor.

Ka mga baga’g nawong! (No translation hehe)

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