It’s always a fun trivia to my family and friends, “Hey, guess how much my fare was getting to the airport?” and they’d guess, “300?”, “500”?, “700?”, assuming I took a taxi, then I’d answer “30” or “50”  (less than a dollar!), because I took the jeep instead.

It was 3 am and my alarm just rang in time to prepare for my 6 am flight. I don’t know how your parents taught you about time estimates of getting to the airport, but mine was, being at the airport 3 hours before your flight. Although, this time, I just woke up 3 hours before my morning flight. 

At my usual morning routine pace, I took a shower, did my skin care, and everything else. I managed to leave Tita’s House at 4:15 am. So I told myself, “It’s probably still early. I can still walk to the highway, instead of booking a Grab”. After 5 minutes of walking, I reached the highway.

This time, I was thinking if I should take a taxi or just ride public transportation. Then I left it to chance and decided the first vehicle that passes by, whether a taxi, bus, or jeep, is what I will hop on. The first one that passed by was a jeep, so with my overly full 35L backpack, I rode the jeep. The jeep ride was smooth. There was nothing to worry about, it was still early. The driver can still drop off all the 20 other passengers one by one, and I can still reach my flight.

At around 5 am, I dropped off from the jeep at Baclaran. There was an Angkas rider and taxis passing by. Being the carefree person that I am, I calculated, “So the boarding time is at 5:45 am. If I get on a jeep or a bus, and it takes 30 minutes, I can still reach the airport in time.”

I got on a jeep and was on the EDSA highway at 5:15 am, and to my surprise, there was little traffic (or was it not little, I don’t want to say). I was thinking by then, if I spend 20 minutes on this highway, there’s still 10 to 15 minutes to reach the airport.

It took only 10 minutes at EDSA and the jeep turned right to the airport road. It was a relief, until there was another traffic a few minutes later. This time, at around 5:25 am, 20 minutes before the 5:45 am boarding time, I remained calm.

Five minutes later, at 5:30 am, we were still stuck in traffic. I got anxious by then so I double checked my boarding pass to see the boarding time was at 5:35 am and not 5:45. From that point, everything in my mind went crazy.

I kept looking at Google Maps. “Should I just get off and ask a passing motorcycle to get me to the airport?”. The thought stayed with me for a few minutes, because booking an Angkas is a bigger risk than getting off the jeep, I just needed the courage to drop off the jeep and ask anyone if I could hitch a ride. But I didn’t have the courage, so I asked, “Are we near the airport, yet?”. A lady working near the airport said, “Yes, really near.” Few minutes passed, I don’t wanna say the time anymore. I kept asking, “Are we near yet?” and the lady answered, “Yes, really near,”.

I was really anxious, the most anxious I have ever been in my entire life, (more anxious than when I had an exam at 8 am and I woke up at 10 am) and the driver still had to make stops to pick-up passengers. By that time, I was thinking, I should probably accept my fate, I will spend 5,000 pesos on another ticket to the next flight within the day or tomorrow. Getting back to Tita’s House saying I missed my flight is not an option, and I still had my hopes up.

At 5:50 am, we reached the airport, and I ran for my life, or should I say, for the sake of my 5,000 pesos, carrying a 35L backpack – which had a laptop, gimbal, and camera that made it really heavy. I made entrance at the departure exit gates, which was on the ground floor. Good thing, I already know NAIA 3 like the back of my hand. I ran up the escalators, past the check-in counters, and to the domestic departure gates, where they check the baggage for the last time. I was in such a hurry, I was still walking when the guard was checking my ID and boarding pass, and his gaze was following my phone’s motion moving forward.

Skipped the queue by choosing the counter for the airport staff and miraculously reached the boarding gate just in time when everybody already boarded the plane. Confused where exactly the gate was without a queue of people to follow, I showed my boarding pass to an airline crew. She said, word for word,  “Ano ‘yan ma’am?” It was really funny, I was breathing hard because of all the running with my mask on, so I barely said any word before showing her the boarding pass on my phone. So she asked, confused, what it was. I asked where the boarding gate was for my flight, and they led me to the gate nearest to us.

Two airline crews were at the boarding gate and I know they had second thoughts of letting me board the plane. The other Kuya who was having difficulties calling for another bus for me, disappointedly asks, “Did you confirm her boarding pass?”. The other answered. “Yes, bro.” and it went something like, “Why did you still confirm her boarding pass?” “No, We’re safe, bro, We’re good.” “Nothing’s gonna happen to us.”.

By the time a bus was called, two other passengers who had the same flight also arrived and the three of us rode the bus to board the plane together. What a happy ending!

Days later, the trivia happened, I asked my mom, “Guess how much I spent on transportation from Las Pinas to the airport?” She guesses, “200?” and I answered. “45 lang”. The experience was definitely not worth it but the story is worth telling a hundred more times.

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