If you’re the regular city commuter in the Philippines, it’s common to see, and be in a jeep, with passengers who ride the it from outside. In Filipino, they are what we call “sabit”.
Roughly translated to “hangers”, these passengers, most of the time, have no choice but to ride this way because of the limited number of seats inside the jeep. Although the jeep is probably the most abundant of public transportation in the country, the traffic due to rush hour takes them quite a long time to come by. Given that morning rush hour makes people fidgety because they don’t want to be late and night rush hour makes people more impatient because of the tiredness from a long day of work, some do not have the patience to wait for a jeep home that can accommodate them properly. In these cases, some passengers opt for being a “sabit” just to get to where they have to be.
However, just to note, being a “sabit” is unfavored by the law. I can’t strongly state that it’s illegal everywhere because there are some areas which the driver allows passengers to do it; in some, drivers angrily shout at any man who tries to ride their jeep this way.
Mind you, these sabits pay for their ride despite the danger that entails their choice. Not to mention, you’re not paying for the comfort and safety a transportation should give. Nonetheless, I think it’s also right for them to pay anyway since they do get to their destinations like everybody else inside, while others have to wait patiently for the next jeep to accommodate them.
In lieu of this, I had a realization this morning on the way to work when two sabit-men (pardon the term) paved way for me for a free seat when a passenger got off the jeep, instead of them, who were passengers ahead of me, taking it to finally be comfortable! It wasn’t the first time this has happened, but I guess it has happened so many times I’m finally acknowledging it with delight.
Of course, I know that I don’t ride the jeep in the right terminal on the way to work. I’m one of those taking a chance every morning that a jeep would stop my way so I can get to work, even if it’s not the right place to be loaded to a public vehicle. So whenever I am given a priority by the sabit-men, I am very thankful. It’s difficult commuting to work in the morning, so being given this kind favor at the start of your day strengthens my faith that gentlemen still exist, and that being a woman has wonderful advantages.
On the other hand, I also feel sorry for the sabit-men who give up their seats for me, and just because I’m a woman. Women are never allowed to be a sabit; not because we can’t (because we can, gender issues are no more in the country, proud to say that), but it’s in the Filipino culture to give priority of comfort to women and children. Even if I want to take my place as the true sabit at times, it’s either they haul me inside by force or other passengers will yell at me to get off.
So as a woman who sits comfortably inside a jeep after being given the favor by a sabit-man, I can only whisper a silent prayer of safety and blessings to the kind soul.
Thank you. 🙂