It all started when the conductor asked me if I was comfortably seated on a step near the door. I was sitting there because I offered my seat to a passenger who rode the bus on the way during my trip to Baguio for the Pilipinas Akyathlon. “Dibali sir, pagdating natin sa susunod na bayan may bababa, makaka-upo na kayo.” The truth is, I liked that seat more than my original seat because it gave me a different perspective of the road on night buses and it gave way for me to know the driver and the conductor.
“9PM na pala. TLC na.” Kuya Bryan, the conductor, then checked the passengers, “May nanonood pa, tapusin muna natin ang palabas bago natin buksan ang radyo.” and went back to his position near the door. I asked what TLC means, “True Love Conversations” a radio show on Love Radio that was hosted by Papa Jack. Apparently, Papa Jack was a hit for night shift buses because it keeps both the driver and the conductor awake by giving entertaining and true thoughts about love and life.
“Kuya, pansin ko lang na ang dami ng mga tao sa labas ang pumapara sa inyo pero hindi kayo tumitigil?” Kuya William, the driver, answered “Nakakahiya po kasi sa mga pasaherong naka-upo kapag may nakatayo dahil nakaka-abala po. Pati ayaw po namin na pagod ang isang pasahero habang nakatayong lumalakbay, maslalo na sa mga ganito kahabang biyahe.“
As soon as the credits of the movie showed, Kuya Bryan quickly turned the TV off and the radio on. The signal for Love Radio was a bit chappy, luckily Papa Jack was not yet on air. “Paano ba yan kuya, hindi maganda ang signal.” “Ayos lang yan sir, medyo may kalayuan na kasi tayo sa signal ng Maynila, maya-maya ililipat natin ng frequency magiging malinaw yan.” Since they’ve been going back and forth the same route for countless times, they managed to memorize the different frequencies of radio stations in the different provinces en route.
I asked them if there were other unique and good destinations that I could visit, but unfortunately Kuya Bryan and Kuya William only said about the Isdaan Restaurant in Tarlac and the Our Lady of Manaoag Church in Pangasinan. Fortunately, I got other interesting informations like the Manaoag Church was famous for miracles that the company made a special trip schedule for the regular attenders of the mass every Sunday back and forth. And sometimes the people going there were too many for a single bus that they had to make another trip on the same schedule.
We talked lots and lots about life and I also shared some of my stories and ideas. I had a great time knowing the crew of Victory Liner Bus #1214. They were friendly and courteous.
And when one of the passengers alighted, unfortunately, I had to return back to my sit to wait for Papa Jack to be on-air. And when he did, Kuya William and Bryan listened and commented on the situation of the caller and agreed to Papa Jack’s hurtful true and practical advises.
Throughout our conversations here’s a list of what I found out about the strict Safety and Comfort Standards of Victory Liner Buses
- They prevent standing passengers, that’s why they do not pick up possible passengers when the bus is full. They only pick up when they know that some of the passengers will go down on a nearby town. The reason for this is that they do not want sleeping passengers to be disturbed by standing passengers. Also they do not want the passengers to be tired from standing during a trip.
- All buses are equipped and tracked via GPS. If they enter an Express Way their main office will be alarmed when the bus goes over 100 kms/hr. An alarm will mean a suspension for the driver, no more second chances.
- Buses are cleaned every trip.
- Baguio-Manila drivers and conductors only has one trip a day to ensure that they are well rested during the trip.
- All buses have CCTV cameras and microphones to monitor the bus, passengers, driver and conductor’s situation during the trip.
When the bus arrived at Baguio City, I could not stop myself from shaking their hands and thanking them for the safe, comfortable and enjoyable ride. Knowing them will let you know that they should be recognized by the passengers for their service unlike the usual unacknowledged persons they are.
I’d like to extend my thanks to the following for the pictures (in order of appearance)
- Paraiso Philippines (http://www.paraisophilippines.com/2009/03/07/)
- karloscamilius (http://www.flickr.com/photos/camilius/3209595402/)