Saturday, July 20, 2013

Free Bus Ride from Ormoc to Tacloban!

If you have the “onion-skin”, that is!

Yes, there is a complimentary bus ride from the 2GO port in Ormoc all the way to Tacloban or Naval. It’s on a bus named JD. I have seen this bus a number of times before, but I never ever bothered to check it out. I heard it takes a bit longer than the usual V-Hires (vans for hire), that’s why. Call it loyalty to my readers or something else weird, but this time, I rode on this JD Bus! Not that it was anything to call home about, but, at least I did so, and can now tell how (the hell) it goes hahaha!

How did this happen? Well, while I was half-asleep and half-awake silently seated on my supercat seat, the friend called asking where I already was, and I said I was on the supercat in the middle of the sea. (yes folks, many people still call it “supercat” even if they have renamed it to “2Go”). And the friend revealed the bad news that initial meeting for the ‘livelihood tour’ will be in Tacloban. And that they left Calbayog City about an hour ago, just approaching Catbalogan City and should be in Tacloban City after about hours. And, and… well, cute! That meant I myself will also have to make my way to Tacloban. Argh!

So arrived my supercat in Ormoc and I was out walking towards the vans that ply the Ormoc-Tacloban route. These vans are parked at the big parking field just outside (or should we say front) of the terminal building. I saw Duptours and Van-vans vehicles with drivers calling out for passengers. No sight of Grand Tours, my favorite. Alas, the very first vehicle (rightfully?) parked where arriving passengers emerge was this JD Bus with driver and conductor calling out on top of their lungs that it was a free ride to Tacloban. I hopped in!

Whatever came to my pea of a brain, I took this free bus ride. And I no less got a front seat! Maybe I was a bit rebellious that the venue was changed from Ormoc to Tacloban (a 2-hour ride) and that I wanted my friends to get impatient waiting for me. Yeah yeah, if I had known at least yesterday, I could have taken the PAL Express early morning Cebu-Tacloban flight. Then again, maybe I just also wanted to experience this ‘free-ride’ so I cant tell you, my readers, about it! Anyway, there I was, seated front row of the JD bus. Not spanky clean but neither too dirty. Okay, fine. It got easily full and off we went.

As we ambled along, bus conductor started checking passengers’ Cebu-Ormoc 2GO tickets – that is the only basis why one can ride this bus free. It’s a complimentary ride c/o 2GO. Bus was gassing up at one station when Mr. Conductor reached my area up front to check tickets. I gave mine. Then he asked to check my pocket or wallet for the “onion-skin”. I was sure there was none so I told him that. Casually and without any hint of ‘pag-aalinlangan’ he said “aw bayad ka 160”. I protested saying my ticket indicates fully that I just got off the supercat together with all these passengers.

Conductor did not say anything. He instead went to another man (probably his boss or a checker, inspector whatever) standing outside the bus as we gassed up. This man approached me while still reading my ticket. His question was: “sir asa nimo gibutang ang duplicate ani”. Then I remembered that it was taken off over at the Cebu port by that guy who gives the seat numbers. Yeah, a thin sheet of paper that is a duplicate of the ticket information. So I said “probably dun sa Cebu gikuha sa nag-assign og seat number”. Then he murmured some things and kept reading my ticket. Finally, he asked “sir, kinahanglan ni nimo para sa refund, liquidation sa kompanya”? And I of course said “yes”. Almost immediately he said “aw bayad ka 160”.

I smelled something suspicious here, and my co-passengers were murmuring their own expressions of protestation. His questions were leading. Instinct told me I should get off this bus as I knew it was slow anyway. But, an idea occurred to me! While said man was still standing near my seat, I grabbed my ticket from his hand, took a photo of it, and gave it back to him saying “ayan, sayo na yan”. A woman passenger added her evidently irked comment saying “ipa-laminate nyo pa”! That man still answered the woman saying something like they need copies of the tickets to be presented as evidence to their office. Aha, the woman was not to be outwitted, and she said “kay-ano maaram imo office pira ka-tawo an sumakay? Ikaw an inspector, maaram ka diri nagbubuwa imo conductor kay may ticket man. Tama na ito!”

Da, sila na ang nag-debate just because of me hehe! Anyway…

Bus went ambling along. I think not too slow compared to the vans after all. But, when conductor asked me and my seatmate to let a woman sit between us, I flared my eyes with all ire and said a loud “NO”. My seatmate also protested that it was only for two people so why let someone else sit between us. Woman even tried putting her bag down where our feet were and I said again “diri puydi”! Da hehe! And is this bus allowed to pick up passengers along the way anyway? I still have to ask 2GO management about that. But I suspect not.

Okay, no more issues as we forded the zigzag roads along the mountains between Kananga and Lemon, but reaching that area, there was the driver picking up passengers again, and we could all see that the conductor was asking them to pay while he did not give tickets or receipts. Some of my co-passengers were very vocal at their protestations why we were picking up riders along the way, but driver acted as if he did not hear anything. I was surprisingly mum hehe!

Fast-forward, and I did arrive in Tacloban getting off in front of Robinson’s Place at about 10:40AM. So travel time from Ormoc was almost 3 hours since we left at 7:50AM.

Not a ride I will cherish to take again – even if free!

For a chronology of stories on this trip, please click the following:
01  02  03  04  05  06  07  08  09  10  11  12
13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24

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