Friday, January 15, 2016

Meet The World Famous Bus Driver from Manila.

I remember it was a weekend in winter and the weather was freezing cold. All I want in a crazy cold winter is doing nothing except lied on the bed watching any good program on TV. As I browsed the SKY TV channels, a reality TV programme called "A ToughesT Place To Be.." in UKTV caught my attention. 

Rogelio and Josh West in the series 1 of a "Toughest Place To Be A Bus Driver". Picture taken from

The programme took a different man from the UK with a different profession such as bus driver, binman, fireman, nurse, fisherman and other professions to do their job in a developing country under some of the toughest conditions in the world. It also showed what life is like for really poor people that many of whom exist on less than 2 dollars a day. 

Back then, I was planning for my Southeast Asia trip and when a series shows about the bus driver in Manila, Philippines and a binman in Jakarta, Indonesia. I made a plan to meet this two great guys. 

As  time passed and the date to my trip was getting closer, I dropped out the plan meeting the bin man in Jakarta, Indonesia and continue with the plan to meet the bus driver in Manila, Philippines. I try to picture myself meeting with him and snapped a photos and post in face book, "Hey look who I met". But, to accomplish that almost impossible because thousands of bus driver in Manila in the population of 20 millions. Actually I don't put a big hope in that.

Edwin Nombre far from left with a great smile.

The hostel where I stayed very often has an activity called True Manila, a project that allows foreigners and Filipinos alike to see the daily grind in impoverished areas in Manila. Edwin Nombre, the founder said the main idea for this project is sharing culture, kindness, and friendship.

Edwin Nombre took us to the slump where he grew up, San Andres. I asked him if he knows about Mr. Rogelio, the Jeepney driver from the BBC programme and it happens that he is Edwin friend. Mr. Rogelio lives in the same place where we had our project but he was at work. I thought that I have no luck meeting him since that the next day will be my last day in Manila.

I finally met Mr. Rogelio, the world famous bus driver from Manila.
When we was about to finish the project, Edwin stopped and talked to someone. At first, I did not take note with whom he was talking to because I would like to take this opportunity to have a good look of the surrounded buildings. When Edwin said he is the man that I asked about, I was shocked that he was in front of me and straight away I told him that I watched that programme and I admired his hard work. Of course I said that I'm his big fan.

Mr. Rogelio's Jeepney, this picture was from his Face Book.
Preparing the meals for the kids.
Later on that day, Mr. Rogelio had an initiative to find me in Face Book through our mutual friend, a lady who was a regular volunteer for True Manila. I felt so honoured that he wants to keep in touch with me and become a long distance friendship. Until recently, from time to time I had a short chat with him.
"Umupo dito," I heard this words many times by Edwin, asking the children to sit. It means something like sit here.
The building like this was built from the donations fund. By the look at it from outside, you can imagine how packed is inside the house with xis families members or more.

We stopped by at soon to be Edwin house to lend a hand for a couple of hours. His home and some others family was burned in a fire. Donations money were used to build up new home for them.
Some considered the slum like this in San Andres is a luxury slum or not as extreme compared to other slum in Manila. I don't do comparison because I never live like in this conditions and even it is a luxury slum, it is still not a proper home.

Had lunch at one of the restaurant in San Andres with the other guys from the same batch.
If you are visiting Manila, put this activity in your list. True Manila and if you have a chance you can have a Jeepney ride driven by Mr. Rogelio. Don't forget beside pay him the fare, tipping him as well. I wish this project all the best and to Mr. Rogelio, "You Are The Man!"

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