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Thursday, April 26, 2007

A car-less whisper

I always joke that if our car were a kid, he’d be an incoming fourth grader now.

Ten years.

That’s how long our car has been with us. *sigh*

Off Gumaca, Quezon, April 14. Last major roadtrip.I know it may sound elitist to be wistful about a luxury that many a Filipino commuter survives without. But replace the concept of the car with, say, a househelp (still elitist?), a favorite shirt, or migrating to the States for good- then you may somehow get a glimpse of the sinkhole I am in now.

He arrived when we I was in college, a suitable companion-and-soon-to-be replacement for our then 10-year old 1987 box-type Lancer. Part of the perks of my father’s employment in the pharmaceutical industry. I learned to drive using the Lancer but I learned to love to drive with our Honda.

I remember the first time my father allowed me to drive the Honda. It was I believe several months after I became really comfortable driving the Lancer. The latter is unquestionable replete with un-Honda characteristics- it’s steering will was tough to maneuver, the stick shift had a mind of its own, the pedals were equally rebellious. Despite these, Lancer- in fairness to it- planted in me the seeds of loving to drive.

Then came The Chance To Drive Honda. Pop and I took Honda out of our subdivision and drove into the national highway. Really now, Honda is the direct anti-thesis of our Lancer: the slightest nudge turned the wheel this way and that; the stick shift willfully allowed the gears to be changed with (too much) ease; the pedals were too obedient to the point that I had a hard time balancing the pressures to be exerted on the clutch and the gas as I started the car or changed gears. In short, that first trip left much to be desired, with my dad and I not being the best of pals for a day or two after that.

And so Lancer became my more constant companion, until it found a new home elsewhere. I eventually mastered driving Honda- within our village initially, usually because of errands and the Sunday mass drives.

Enduring the traffic jam in Meralco Avenue, en route the CFC Center in Ortigas.Honda did nurture my love for driving, especially when my dad eventually let me use it full time a little after med school ended. I’ve had so many (mis)adventures aboard that car that I hesitate to mention since this blog is accessible to my parents. (Don’t worry mom and pop, I am usually a careful driver hehe.) I love driving so much that I claim to be a taxi driver in my past life.

Looking back now, however, I actually spent more time in it as a passenger. From being fetched from, taken to, and visited by my parents in my boarding house in UP Village in Diliman, to being caught unintentionally beating the red light in Katipunan Avenue en route to my college graduation ceremonies. During med school, my parents were still fetching me from, taking me to, and visiting me in my med school dorm (with laundry and groceries and cleaning materials and a lot of patience in tow!)

In a way, it has helped nurture our faith as a family. From the simple trip of going to church 10 minutes away, to pilgrimages to Manaoag, Pink Sisters Convent in Tagaytay and the shrine of Mary Mediatrix in Lipa City- Honda’s taken us there.

From the accomplishment of common everyday tasks of buying groceries to the invaluable duties of taking my grandmother to her twice-weekly dialysis sessions and visiting Anne with supplies on hand when items among the latter would be lacking.

Honda has brought us to weddings, funerals, baptisms, reunions, graduations, oath-taking ceremonies. He brought back balikbayans from the NAIA and brought migrants to the airport. He gave rides to our neighbors, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, classmates, officemates, real friends, user-friendly friends, acquaintances, and strangers.

Snapshot of Makati Shangri-La as Milenyo hit the city- with me willingly driving through the typhoon.His windshield has so many stickers of various shapes and sizes and colors from various organizations, roadways, subdivision property managers, the LTO, compounds, and complexes that many security guards believe that their subdivision or building’s sticker has GOT to be there on that windshield which makes making the Honda halt unnecessary.

He’s been hit, bumped, scratched, honked at, cursed, pummeled by Milenyo, pelted by small stones falling from the back of a truck hauling gravel, splashed at, edged out. But the worse thing that happened to me while driving was a flat tire on the C5 - Bagong Ilog flyover in Pasig City.

My travel companions, so I don't have to travel alone says my sister.He has taken me to school- as a student before and as a teacher now. He has taken me to dates, endured my excessive perfume sprays, taken me home afterwards always by my lonesome, endured my rants, endured my singing, heard my prayers, if not prayed with me.

Over the past two years it has become an extension of Ian. When things are really toxic, Honda is where I eat, sleep/ nap, make my reports, read books, discuss work with officemates, hatch plans to save humanity, keep my trash, hide from the world as I drive as if I am invisible and invincible, walk, or rather, drive my faith.

Honda has taught me how to be more mature (don’t drink and drive!), responsible (insurance! 5k checkup!), considerate (give way whenever possible!), kind (thanks to GK and Lingkod!), humble (asking for directions is NOT unmanly!), prayerful (Manila traffic + Ian behind the wheel = need for increased prayer time!).

Too many words said for a 10-year old car, eh?

Yeah, words are all one has after parting with a gem of a car that Honda is or was. I just sold the car yesterday to a buy-and-sell businessman. It won’t be for family use he intimated. It’s a good thing for Honda, of course, since all bumps and bruises and scatches here and imperfections there will be healed in time for the next owner to bring him home. It’s a good thing for us as well. We might be getting a new car. But of course, Honda- he is irreplaceable.

The odometer read 205,765 kilometers. That’s the distance we’ve covered from the time Honda took my father into his driver’s seat in 1997 until I alighted from it for the last time yesterday morning in Park Square 1. Those digits could very well represent the number of memories with which the car is involved. Those digits arguably stand for the amount of blessings we’ve received by way of Honda. A number that may approximate the quantity of people he helped directly or indirectly as he went about his travels.

To me, 205,765 is probably the number of times I’d think of him over the next few weeks or so.

Thank you and God speed, Honda. May your next 205,765 kilometers on the road be as safe as the ones you’ve had with us. Bon voyage.

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