A Jeepney Tale: Sukli

The moment I was seated comfortably, I dug my right pocket to pay the jeepney fare. Sensing that I had no barya, I just opted to use the 20-peso bill.

“Bayad ho.”

And then I went on to stare outside the window and do some quality thinking.

I imagined what dinner was in store for me at home; remembered a soon-to-be publication aptly named “Cabæghyou” (pronounced: KA·BA·YO); and contemplatively wondered why I, a biological female, did not know of this commercial organization labeled, “Bearhuggs” when someone claimed that all girls in existence are aware of it (at least in the Philippines), among all others…

I was shaken from my reverie when I realized that I was near my stop.

And I haven’t gotten my change for the P20 yet.

“Manong, yung sukli ho sa bente. Cubao, galing UST.”


“MANONG, YUNG SUKLI HO SA BENTE? CUBAO, GALING UST PO.” (Any louder and I think they would have heard me in Russia)

“Nabigay ko na sukli mo! Kung gusto mo pa ng sukli, magbayad ka ulit!” the driver said spitefully.

Of course, I was offended. So I checked my pocket to at least prove to myself that I had not had my –


I think I forgot how to breathe for a second or two. I was so absorbed in my own thoughts that I was completely unmindful of my surroundings when he handed me my change. Or was that a lapse in memory? A Moment to Remember comes to mind.

I completely deserved the spiteful treatment. I was so ashamed of myself. My dignity and pride were in ruins. But I can still somehow mend my mistake. I sucked in a lungful of dust-infested air for courage.

“Manong. Sorry po."

That apology drained me empty of all the guts I had. I couldn’t open my mouth anymore.  I couldn’t open my mouth even when the jeepney passed my stop. I was already near Gateway when a group of people called “Para” and descended the jeep. I just exited along with them.

I walked to a nearby Mercury Drug, bought myself a cup of strawberry yoghurt, and hoped that it would redeem my honor.