How to Get Yourself Out Of Quiapo In Five Minutes, Give or Take

True story: I did not mean to fall asleep that day. Really.

I was just clueless, you see, since the jeepney had gone past Espana and I couldn’t see the University of Santo Tomas anywhere. Then the barker started calling out for Pier 15, which I should have taken as a sign that Something Was Wrong.

So of course I had to ask where I was, and the person next to me said that I was, indeed, in Quiapo.

Cue the alarms and claxons in my head: Oh, no! I just missed my stop, and now I’m carrying a laptop bag in Quiapo! Whatsoever must I do now? 

So I did what anyone in my position would do: Get off the jeepney, put on the Intense Face, and hold on to my laptop bag for dear life so I won’t turn into another casualty at the hands of pickpockets.

The rest just kicked in:

  • Walk as fast as possible. You are not taking a leisurely seaside stroll on Waikiki, and neither is everyone else. Do not smile. Do not make eye contact. Do not even let anyone touch you. 
  • You can, of course, ask for directions, but do not blame yourself for getting confused if where you need to go is right in front of you. 
  • If the person you’re talking to asks you if you’re blind – because the jeepney stop is right in front of you, and you have no idea – do not answer politely. Just be frank: “No, I’m just new to this neighborhood. Now will you tell me how exactly I’m supposed to chase down that jeepney?”
  • It’s OK to chase after a jeepney here. It’s also OK to ask the driver if he’s going where you need to go, and get off ASAP if he’s not. That’s called “logic.” 
  • Nobody cares if the jeepney that you need to take is at the very entrance of the underpass. And neither should you.  

Lesson learned: Don’t fall asleep on a jeepney ever again. Ever.

    Love, Stella

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    Stella Torres

    is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

    In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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