07 November 2008

Basta Driver, Sweet Lover

Roughly translated: "The mistresses of MGP Trans Employees are not allowed to ride."

Drivers and conductors are labeled as promiscuous or "macho". These labels are applied generously also by themselves to themselves.

And why would they not be ladies' men? Drivers could grow to be smooth-talkers, as they encounter busloads of women a day, are away from their wives for extended periods of time, know "the ways of the world", are toughened by the road.

What else might make them sought-after?

The daughter of someone I knew had an affair with a married driver, and her whole family benefited from the arrangement. Working in Manila, they were able to send money and goods to faraway Bicol regularly and free of charge. The kabit had unlimited free rides and unprecedented mobility, usually absent from those who migrate to Manila for low-paying jobs.

"As long as I'm with you."

This brought to mind stories I heard when I was in Cabanatuan, the "Tricycle Capital of the Philippines" (and quite possible The World). There we find a subculture of women who pry on tricycle drivers, and offer certain physical pleasures, in exchange for free rides, cellular phone credits ("Load Warriors"!), and thrills.

Not that I'm depicting this as prostitution-in-kind (there could be some truth to drivers' self-proclaimed "good lover" skills), but there is probably a very real economic dimension in play here. Getting around in a poorly-planned metropolis/country takes a lot of money (relative to your average wage). Owning a jeep (or the skill to drive one) increases the chance for relatively stable employment. And so on, and so forth.

Popular Posts