The SLEX: Hell On Earth

"Next station, Ayala station," the MRT’s incomprehensible PA system would blurt out, as if people understand the words. The doors open and I battle my way out of the train. I fall in line in the concourse area, where you insert your ticket to pass through to the free — the unpaid area of the MRT station. A click, and my ticket comes back to me. Finally I make my way to the bus stop, where the buses are like meat and the waiting commuters are piranhas inside an aquarium: once the meat comes anywhere close, the piranhas swoop in all at the same time. To get in the bus, pushing and shoving are required. I may be kind of a gentleman in normal situations, but in times like these, it’s every man for himself.

I’m inside, seated — uncomfortably, as always.

I look out the window. "Wow, the traffic looks pretty bad," I think to myself. Manong driver steps on the gas and releases the clutch, and the bus starts moving. Going slow, but it’s still manageable, nothing to worry about. 

So I go about the journey listening to my cellphone’s radio (yes, it’s high-tech like that). Hundreds of meters ahead, I can see red lights, brake lights, all turned on. And their not moving. Okay maybe a few inches or less per second (but come on, does that really count?). And the Skyway on-ramp — the ramp used to get to the Skyway — is still not within sight. "Oh shit," I concede. This will be bad. No, horrible. Oh wait, deathly.

Ten to fifteen minutes later, after agonizingly inching our way through the start of the dreaded SLEX traffic jam, we made it to the Skyway, and the first two or three hundred meters of Skyway were pretty good. Then once again, the stationary red (brake) lights came into view. It’s the line for the toll. "Okay fine. Toll naman ‘yan e. Pila talaga," my optimistic side butted in. After another maybe seven to 10 minutes queued, we got past it, and, again, the ride was smooth. For a few hundred meters.

And then another jam. This one was longer. This was the grandmother, the queen, the ringleader of the traffic jam. It stretched all the way from Nichols to the middle of Sucat exit and Alabang exit. I never saw that coming. When the traffic jam came into view, I thought it would only be until the Sucat off-ramp, because Skyway was very poorly made that from at least three lanes, it would shrink to an anorexic one lane, a terrible bottleneck. Don’t get me wrong, this is common occurrence, where after clearing the off-ramp, it will be a smooth ride again. But this time it was Bad. No, a capital B wouldn’t do it justice: IT WAS BAD.

I was losing it. My phone’s battery was draining, the radio programs were getting boring, and the traffic condition was in no way getting lighter. Adding salt to the wound, my seat was uncomfortable, and my back and neck were aching up, plus I was getting sleepy. Not a good combination, huh?

It was 6:20pm when I texted my mom that I was on my way home, and by that time, I’ve waited for a jeep plus been in a jeep for about 5 minutes already, meaning I left UP at around 6:15pm. I got to Alabang exit at around 8:35pm (sa exit lang mismo, ha). TWO HOURS AND TWENTY MINUTES, roughly an hour and thirty minutes spent on SLEX ALONE. Unacceptable, unnecessary bullcrap.

Eventually, I got home at around 9:00pm, by far the longest travel I’ve undertaken.

I am sick of this. Ever since the second semester started, SLEX’s traffic conditions just got worse: going to UP took the same time because I left the house earlier this sem, but going home, oh dear lord. It now took two hours AT THE VERY LEAST to get home, when it took an AVERAGE of two hours to get home during the first sem, same time of departure from UP.

Tonight, I realized the full potential of the South Luzon "Express"way. Well, actually not just the Alabang-and-northwards part of  SL"E"x, but including EDSA, the two traffic cesspools of Metro Manila: they may serve as the biggest parking lot in the Philippines, maybe even the world. It’s a stretch which can park thousands upon thousands of vehicles: sedans, SUVs, AUVs, trucks, buses, jeepneys, taxis, anything.
To whoever’s managing the Skyway’s construction, hurry the f*ck up and finish it already. You have caused headaches to us the public, who use the SLEX and the functional parts of the Skyway itself in the hope that these would make travelling faster and more convenient. Because of the slow construction, the exact opposite has happened: travel has turned slow and downright inconvenient, especially to us commuters.

Tonight, everywhere I passed was traffic. I hope this day never repeats itself again. To November 26, 2010, courtesy of Stone Cold Steve Austin (I don’t really wanna post this, but this just encapsulates all I wanna say and do right now):

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Somnambulism

I went to sleep wearing a pair of bottoms I always use when at home, a red, white, and blue pair which resembles basketball shorts. When I woke up, however, I had worn a pair of shorts I frequently use when going out; the only thing missing, however, was underwear. I never go out without underwear.

Upon waking up, I never really noticed it, but it just felt so different. Thinking about this strange event more, a thought came to mind: "Buti na lang hindi naipit yung ulo."

That’s when I realized that maybe I do sleepwalk.

We all know what happens during sleepwalking. Obviously, during sleep, you walk. This characterizes sleepwalking or somnambulism. But not only that, of course. During this stage (if we can call it that) of sleep, a person also does activities like cooking, talking, driving, changing clothes (in my case), or writing songs (in a particular singer’s case. I forgot who. I think it was Michelle Branch?).

Prior to the shorts-changing incident/craziness I underwent, I actually was having a dream. In my fantasy, I was in my room looking through my pile of casual shorts in the leftmost cabinet. I was about to leave for something. I settled with my brown shorts with red and blue stripes. That was all I can remember from the dream and it was a bit hazy. I don’t think even my brain didn’t have recollection what that dream exactly was all about until I woke up.

This, however, might not really be my first sleep walking experience I had. One time, sleeping in my parents’ room (because it’s air-conditioned). The only thing turned on at this time was the air conditioner in the room. I slept tightly and comfortably. But when i woke up, Mom asked me why I switched on the electric fan in the room. I never knew about it. I never even remembered whether I turned it on or not. I never thought it was sleep walking in my part, I thought maybe one of them (my bro and my mom) turned the fan on.

Until I had this latest experience. I never expected it, but I sleepwalk.

I’m planning to install a CCTV camera in my bedroom to monitor my actions when I’m asleep. But Paranormal Activity 2 came to mind. I might see myself floating in the air or being visited by entities.

So never mind.

To The Kingdom, I Come

 When my sembreak officially started, I looked at it as what it is: a BREAK. I went about it like what it’s supposed to be. After all the hours upon hours I spent travelling to and from UP, I decided to just stop, take a break, stay home and not leave the comforts of our house.

And every night during this well-deserved break of mine, I never failed to listen to The Disenchanted Kingdom, 99.5 RT’s PRIMETIME(!) radio show. Seriously. Every night, I would listen to it, even if I don’t get to listen to the entire show.

So I thought, "Since every night of my sembreak was spent tuned in to the DK — which means practically my sembreak has been all about the DK — why not cap off my sembreak by being IN the DK?" Lo and behold, this opportunity presented itself, all thanks to the power of the technology we call Twitter.

I follow one of the Disenchanted Kingdom’s DJs on Twitter. One night, they were playing this game called "Are You Smarter Than A Lasalista?", with the Lasalista referred to being the DJ I follow. He lost big time, and so I tweeted him regarding his defeat. I told him, in a light-hearted fashion, "Nakakahiya ka sa mga Lasalista! HAHAHAHAHA =))". I was shocked when he responded, "Are you telling me you can answer those questions without Google?" to which I asked him if he was challenging me. He gave a positive response and told me to drop by in the station.

BOOM! That’s what I was waiting for! Now I already have a reason to go to the show! Opportunity knocked on the door and I entertained it. In Sky Flakes’ words, kinagat ko.

Going to Paragon Plaza, I was kinda worried that maybe he was just fooling around with me, pinapaasa lang ako. All the time I was really hoping he remembers the challenge. Fortunately, when we got to the station (Keisha and I), King DJ Logan welcomed us, and I immediately introduced myself to Marf as the challenger. "Enzo?" he asked. All right, I thought to myself. He’s expecting me!

I thought I would just be playing the game for all of 5 to 10 minutes. It turned out I would spend about 5-10 minutes on-air once the show started. They were interviewing me. On-air. I cannot believe the day would come when I’d be literally heard by thousands of people. And that was just the beginning of it.

The game proper which I expected to be 5-10 minutes long actually took 25-plus minutes. Midway through, I kind of started shivering, a combination of some nerves getting to me and the cold temperature in the booth. There was even an instance where the rubbing of my hands was heard through the microphone.

In the end, I managed to win the game (even though I failed to answer the difference between an amphibian and a reptile). I scored myself 2 tickets to the advanced screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 on Monday in the SM Megamall. The DK crew also decided to give Keisha 2 tickets of her own. We haven’t claimed the tickets yet, though.

All in all, this was an experience of a lifetime. Because of this show, I’m now starting to want to become a DJ in the future. And after I visited, I became even more interested in becoming a DJ, or at least trying it out. And to get to speak and be heard by thousands without really seeing them, it felt really good.

This won’t be the last time I’ll be hanging around inside the royal ruckus, The Disenchanted Kingdom. I’ll come back to the castle soon.