Young Blood

The real world


It’s 9 p.m. and I’m on my way home from school. I’m standing on a sidewalk on Katipunan, waiting for a jeepney. It’s been 10 minutes and it feels like such a long time. All I want is to get home.

An empty Antipolo-bound jeepney comes, and I sigh with relief. I board it along with everyone else and take the seat nearest the exit. In no time it gets filled and starts moving away. And then about four men in jersey shorts and oversized T-shirts clutch at the rails and cling to the jeepney, covering the exit. This is strange; they’re not supposed to be allowed to do that. The driver doesn’t seem bothered, and proceeds at a relatively low speed.

I ignore my suspicion, confident that I will be safe. But the passenger next to me takes out his cell phone and begins texting, and one of the sabit  men grabs it. That’s when it sinks in: I’m not safe at all. I hold my backpack tightly, but that doesn’t stop the man from wresting it from me. I try pleading, telling him I’m a student over and over again, but it doesn’t do much. The sabit  men threaten the other passengers, who eventually hand over their stuff.

And then they’re gone, and I’m left stupefied. I think of the backpack and its contents: my cute pink and blue floral wallet with P150, my ATM card, and some high school pictures that never fail to make me smile; my pink Alcatel flip phone, which, while not exactly expensive, isn’t like any other phone because it looks like a makeup compact and it makes me unique; my black iPod classic, a hand-me-down from a dear friend, with all the Taylor Swift and One Direction and David Archuleta songs I love and don’t know how I can survive without.

There are also: my pink hardbound notebook, which I struggle to keep neat; my chemistry prelab notebook, which I just recently covered with newspaper and clear plastic; my dark blue planner, which I try so hard to update to keep my life organized; and my envelope of handouts, chemistry lab manual, yellow pad, water jug, extra T-shirt, retainers, blue personalized vanity kit, pink hankie, and pens. And then there’s the black backpack itself, which isn’t even mine (it’s my brother’s, and he lends it to me, and I’ve always had it with me during the best moments of my life—except this one).

It gets me mad because those things mean nothing to the sabit  guys. What will they get from a barely-written-on notebook, a planner with nothing but to-do lists, and a vanity kit with my name on it? They’ll probably sell whatever they can and just throw everything else away, whereas I’m left with no choice but to get on with my life without my beloved things.

One more thing I lost is my sense of security. The excitement I used to feel whenever I commute to and from school is gone. I used to leave home with a big smile, embracing my freedom, thrilled to finally be on my own. But it won’t be like that anymore. With fear and anxiety, I’m no longer happy commuting on my own.

I never thought such a thing would happen to me. But this traumatic experience is only a taste of what the real world is like. I used to think of the world as a big friendly place where one can be safe and secure as long as one knows what to do. Now I’ll have to deal with the fact that these things do happen, and there’s no way one can stop them no matter how careful one tries to be. It scares the hell out of me.

Taffy C. Salazar, 18, is a biology freshman at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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  • slicenziuten

    be grateful that you just lost your bag and your favorite pink (material) things. you’re lucky coz the other pink stuff are still intact – wink. welcome to the real world. be careful always.

  • josh_alexei

    In some real world, a pre-teen would be able to roam around with her iphone or ipad without the fear of being snatched from her and I have seen it in our subways and buses and malls even without the visible uniform police officers around. Because in real world, children our taught in their early years that envy and jealousy is not good for their health and will eventually led to the life of crime.

  • poutyperkiss

    I feel for all of you left there in my dear old Pinas. Safety in public transport it seems is not present there anymore. Take care of yourselves!

  • Chloroform

    did you report the incident to the police, baranggay or the school? what was their reaction? did you see an improvement in the area where the crime happened? did the police made a commitment to have a patrol car make a regular pass in the area? did the baranggay captain assigned a “tanod” to be on extra alert status? I do not know if the area is within your school…

  • Mamang Pulis

    …in the real world, how it will be?

  • Parigi

    This is an unfortunate event in metro Manila. It is the reality which was depicted in a foreign movie filmed here but vehemently denied by some people. Don’t despair that this is the “real world.” If its any consolation, in some other places in this world, you can be a lot safer. My family had just been victims of robbers masquerading as construction workers. We let them in to effect repairs but took advantage to steal some of our personal properties.

  • Islaslolo

    Welcome to the real world, my friend!

    It should not be as traumatic though, they were just material things. When I was a student at UP, we could be truly rob of our freedom by Marcos’s agents at the slightest suspicion of being against him.

  • perpetual7

    It mostly happens at night especially when approaching dimly lit areas whether walking or inside the jeepney. A “veteran” of evening classes walking thru V. Mapa street Sta. Mesa, then taking the next jeepney passing by Welfareville, arguably two of the most holdup prone areas in my time, i learned to develop the instincts and practicality to avoid it. This may be practical and may help as most of my co-students then had been victimized, some once, some twice and some thrice that they became “suki” to these holduppers. Short of demanding “O suki! Holdap to!”

    First, when walking and you feel that somebody is approaching from behind, stop at the nearest lighted post as if waiting for somebody or some taxi. If it’s between posts and somebody seems to close in from behind, fake a step forward by sidestepping and then step backwards that you’ll be the one chasing him disorienting him for a few seconds until the next lighted post comes. The sabit boys will not ride in dark areas thus you can still have some precious seconds to assess them, your instincts will tell you to alight or to proceed. Better yet, if they are two or more and their bearings and manner of dressing confuse you, go down from the jeep. It is better to loss a jeepney fare and to wait a few minutes more or an hour than be a hapless victim. Sabit boys may frequent the night but passengers in so many jeepneys are likely to time them once if not twice in a year. So when some puzzling pair or group join in the jeepney, as it doesn’t happen so often, donate the fare and say “Para!” before the darker turns of the route is reached. Or the sabit boys will shout “Pera!”

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