An honest conversation about the MRT
The Metro Rail Transit recently suffered power glitches for two consecutive days due to lightning. Last Wednesday night, passengers were forced to exit from the unmoving train and find a way home amidst a heavy downpour.
Love it or hate it, the MRT is a huge part of as many as 500,000 Filipinos’ daily routine. A Facebook group called MRT: Mga kwento ng Realidad sa loob ng tren, created by writer Meg Siasoco, “aims to gather commuter stories from every Pinoy.”
Filled with pictures, news, rants, and interesting stories, MRT: Mga kwento ng Realidad sa loob ng tren deserves a spot on your newsfeed.
Pacifiqa talked to its creator Meg Siasoco.
When did you start this project? What is the reason behind it?
I started the Facebook page “MRT: Mga Kuwento ng Realidad sa loob ng Tren” last January 6, 2014. Since I started working in 2011, I ride the LRT and MRT everyday. This inspired me to start the page wherein commuters like me can share their experiences. As you can see, the page is categorized under “Book” because I want to write a book someday based from the real-life entries shared in the page.
I’m managing this page alone. This is my brainchild, so I feel like taking full responsibility of this page. I also do research sometimes to keep the page updated. I sometimes feel like an online news reporter on LRT/MRT news since I repost recent happenings.
The FB page’s description says “Ipaalam natin sa lahat ang tunay na realidad ng buhay.” How does the MRT reflect Philippine society?
The situation in the MRT depicts a lot about our country. The fact that train maintenance can’t be improved shows incompetence in management. With the current issue of officials engaging in illegal deals, this is becoming a national concern. As for the commuters, you see people from different walks of life: Class B, C, D. The diverse attitudes of Filipinos can be clearly seen with just a simple incident of cutting in line or starting a fight just because someone stepped on your foot.
Why is riding the MRT a pain in the ass? Why is it enjoyable?
I personally like riding the train because it brings me to work faster than taking the bus. From Pasay to Quezon City, the fastest travel time I’ve had to date is 35 minutes, LRT and MRT ride combined. Of course, this isn’t an everyday miracle. Lately, MRT train glitches often happen compared to two or three years ago. It’s a hassle when you have to line up for a long time because there’s a shortage of trains. I also find the “No Turn back policy” very helpful since it is so unfair to those who patiently wait in line just to get inside the train.
The MRT-3 has been under a lot of fire lately. What improvements do you think the MRT system should have?
Last Monday, June 2, the MRT dispatched 20 trains from 7-9am to accommodate more passengers due to the first day of classes. In my opinion, this system worked. No long lines and waiting time for the trains was reasonable. An added number of trains with proper traffic and coordination of trips can lessen the problems of passengers.
I also think there should be a unified stored value card for LRT 1, LRT 2 and MRT. Most lining up happens when buying tickets. If this will be done, I believe everything will be more systematic.
Commuters usually complain about the ‘lack of discipline’ of other commuters. What annoying behaviors do Filipinos exhibit during rush hour? What train etiquette should be observed?
Based on the entries that fellow commuters share on the page, common complaints are cutting in line, not letting passengers go out of the train before entering, pushing or paniniksik and stepping on their foot. This is where proper etiquette should come in.
Never cut in line. Let passengers go out of the train first before going in. Be sensitive to the people around you. Pushing shouldn’t happen if there is discipline.
How long have you been riding our local trains? Name some of your most memorable train experiences.
I’ve been riding the LRT since I was little but riding the LRT and MRT daily started in August 2011.
I remember accidentally reading a text message of the girl beside me inside the MRT. The conversation went:
Girl: “Asan ka?
(I assumed it’s the boyfriend): “Asa trabaho pa ko, babe.”
Girl: “Ah talaga? Wala ka sa office. Nakikita kita ngayon. Eh sino yang kasama mo?”
At this point, it is clear to me that the girl is just testing her boyfriend since we are inside a moving train. But the reply shocked me…
Boyfriend: “Asan ka? Sorry. I can explain. Sorry.”
Then the girl beside me started to cry. Apparently, the guy is really cheating on her.
Another incident was when I was going to ride the MRT from North Avenue. I have a DQ ice cream with me. The guard checked my bag and allowed me to enter then stopped me a few feet after. He approached me:
Guard: “Miss, bawal yan sa loob.”
Me: “Uubusin ko dito sa tabi, Kuya.”
Guard: “Eh bawal nga yan eh.”
Me: “Katabi ko Master Siomai, Waffle Time at Dunkin Donut. Bawal kumain dito?”
Then the guard just laughed at me. So pathetic.
What are your plans for this project? Do you intend to turn it into a book?
As mentioned above, yes. I want to write a book about this someday. That’s why I am enrolling myself this coming semester for a Masters degree in Development Communication so I may be able to write a book really well. Communication is changing fast. I know that with the Internet and other advanced gadgets, a hard copy as reading material is a bit off. But I am still going for it. It amazes me how the stories of train commuters and management of the train stations rapidly change overtime.
It feels good to manage a page wherein co-commuters share the same feelings and views as myself. It’s also fulfilling to be a medium of information.