Close encounter with a Dura-Dura gang.
It was only this year that I had started to take jeepney rides to work (I used to take a cab, which was why I had so many cabbie stories to tell before). Jeep rides are economical, though I must admit they are not very friendly to your skin.
There’s another reason to beware when riding jeeps. Last Saturday, I had to submit grades at the Asia Pacific College in Magallanes. This is a very tricky area, actually. I’ve had co-faculty members who had been victimized by notorious Dura Dura gangs so I’m always on high alert whenever I’m in Magallanes.
Anyway, as I was riding the jeep yesterday, there was this annoying guy who climbed aboard. He was rather clean-looking, light-skinned and seemingly carefree. He insisted on sitting near the exit even though the people in that area did not want to budge. There was a family sitting together on that side and the mother complained, “Kuya, anluwag luwag dun sa kabila, wag mo ipitin yung bata!” (“Brother, it’s more spacious on the other side, don’t squish our boy!”)
I was annoyed because he seemed to be very inconsiderate and I felt my forehead and eyebrows form a scowl. He sat down beside me and my thought bubble went, “Oh, great. I will kick this guy if he even so much as make the wrong move.”
A few seconds later, the girl who used to sit beside me (the annoying guy now sat between us) pulled out her iPhone. Another source of annoyance for me, because I think it’s the height of stupidity to bring out any expensive-looking gadget inside public utility vehicles (PUVs). Then the man started saying something that made the alarm bells in my head go crazy:
“Miss, ano yang nasa balikat mo? Bubblegum? Parang kadiri ata.”
(“Miss, is that bubblegum on your shoulder? That’s gross!”)
I remembered my co-faculty’s story and I knew right there and then that the guy beside me was a member of a Dura-Dura gang and he was just about to rob the girl on cue. The girl suddenly went into a panicked frenzy and touched her hair repeatedly while trying to hold her iPhone. She was also allowing this stranger to touch her hair as well. I wanted to scream, “You stupidiot woman, what the heck are you doing!??”
There were three other men that started to make some ruckus about the bubblegum in her hair and I figured that they were in cahoots. I could not tell who among them was trying to steal from the girl while she was distracted. The guy beside me brought out some tissue and looked like he was going to apply it to her hair. I wasn’t quite sure if he was going to pretend to clean her hair or he was actually putting bubblegum on it. The scowl in my forehead went deeper and I was watching everyone else’s reaction. Everyone was just so…apathetic.
At that moment, I did something that I should not have done: I made it obvious that I knew what the Dura Dura gang was doing by asking the driver to stop and I tried to go down before he even had a chance to stop. The mother of the family in front of me started screaming, “Ay, malalaglag ka, miss!” (“You’re going to fall, miss!”)
And I walked as fast as I could, looking back twice and also scowling deeper. I saw the guy alight the jeep; I’m guessing he knew that I knew and it ruined their style. An old man sitting under the Magallanes bridge said that I must be in a hurry for walking too fast (usual pick-up line), but I was too pissed that I screamed and pointed, “May holdaper doon!” (“There’s a goon over there!”)
I walked all the way to the APC shuttle with my heart threatening to run out of my chest. I took a cab home and will not be taking a jeep ride to APC anytime soon. That gang could know my face. I had the misfortune of having no sunglasses that day.
Anyway, here’s a video I found under dheiAngelo’s YouTube channel, for your reference.
Some suggestions for commuters out there who know how to read and have landed on my blog:
- Always be aware of your surroundings when riding PUVs.
- Do not sleep. I am rather guilty of this sometimes, when I’m very tired.
- For the love of all that’s intelligent, DO NOT BRING OUT YOUR GADGETS. I’ve seen a guy who flaunted his Samsung Galaxy Note II while riding a jeep and all I can think about is, “Stupid poser asking to be mugged.”
- If somebody tells you that you have bubblegum or spit on your clothes (there were even instances of actual vomit, ugh), completely ignore the person and hold on to your things, like what the girl in the video did. Notice that she was holding her bag very tightly because she knew they were trying to rob her.
- It’s extremely helpful to have your kikay stuff and cleaning materials (alcohol, alcogel, tissue, wet wipes) in a separate compartment outside your bag, preferably your bag’s outer pockets. That way, you need only open the part that does not contain any valuables.
- DO NOT DO WHAT I DID. What I did was let my disgust (at what was going on and at everyone’s apathy) and annoyance (at the girl’s idiocy) get the better of me. When sitting beside members of a gang, pretend you do not know what they’re doing. They can follow you and they may be armed. At this point, I am now avoiding that area and will go back to taking cabs to Magallanes.
- Do not talk to strangers. Not even old ladies. Not even street kids. Many old ladies are members of the Salisi and Budol-Budol gangs and many street kids have been trained by syndicates to maim and murder.
- My default look when being talked to in public is a perma-scowl. Or the “I am not taking any of your nonsense” look.