Yup, you heard me right. He had a few seconds of shuteye while on the wheel.
25th of December in 2006, I along with my mom and sister, traveled from Tarlac to Manila via public bus. We spent Christmas eve the night before with my mom and dad's families in their hometown Victoria, Tarlac.
We arrived in Manila past midnight. From the bus terminal, we took a cab to get to our pad in Malate. The first fifteen minutes of the ride went fine. After that, we all noticed that the driver suddenly dropped his speed and slowly careened left and right. It didn't worry me though, I actually thought he was just testing his wheel alignment or his tires' air pressure. Besides, I was busy texting Christmas greetings to even care.
Only a few more kilometers to our destination, coming from Quiapo, the cab ascended Quezon Bridge. And upon our descent, that's when it happened. The driver in a deep slumber wasn't controlling his wheel anymore. My eyes were still on my mobile phone's screen, I didn't see it coming. Past the Manila Metropolitan Theater on Quezon Boulevard, our cab climbed up an island and smashed on an LRT post.
I was on the front seat and wasn't wearing a seatbelt.
I can clearly remember the sound and sight of the windshield shattering. I was caught so off-guard, my phone flew from my hand and got buried beneath the sea of broken glass on my feet. I didn't pass out but was indeed shocked.
Bystanders suddenly surrounded the vehicle. A man knocked on my window and pointed at my door lock. I assumed he was asking for me to unlock it, perhaps to help me out in case I was badly injured. I managed to give him a thumbs up sign but did not open my door. I had P10,000 stashed in my bag and in such crazy situation I was still
My mom and sister were okay, but also badly shaken by the accident. I remember my sister reaching for and touching my face when I didn't respond to her when she was calling , "Ate?". I assured her I was okay. She told me she'll never forgive herself if terrible something happened to me. It was one of those rare times she let me sit in front, instead of her.
I also remember mom, who's one of the loudest people I know, being silent for the first time. Poor mom must have been very worried.
Another man peered in my window and introduced himself as a policeman. He wasn't wearing his uniform though. I'm guessing he was supposedly off duty, but checked the commotion anyway. I stepped out of the cab, tightly clutching my bag.
Policeman: "Mam okay lang ho kayo?".
Me: "Manong di ko po mahanap battery ng phone ko."
Unbelievably, he commanded his boys to look for it then turned to me again.
Policeman: "Mam gusto nyo po ba magpadala sa ospital?"
Me: "Hindi na ho. Gusto ko mahanap battery ng camera ko para mag-picture."
It may seem funny, but I really wanted to have a photo of the cab that almost took my life to remind me of how I have been spared - and that I should make the most of the second life that's been given to me.
We never found my battery but sis was able to take a snapshot with her own celly. When we got home (we didn't file charges and shame on the driver who still wanted us to pay for the ride!), the first person I texted was Dexter. He's a segment writer of the defunct TV show I co-hosted. His reply? "Gay, sana hindi ka muna umalis. Sayang ang exposure. Si Aladin Bacolodan ang rumoronda sa Manila ngayon, sana hinintay mo." - not exactly the answer I expected, but it made me laugh a very very very long laugh.
I broadcasted the incident on Friendster. Posted the photo too. My friends were thankful I survived the accident unscathed (okay, I got a painful bump and a small cut on the head) and weren't surprised to find out that I was already holidaying at some beach just days after.
The memory never caused me tears, yet without a doubt, it's one of the highlights in my life. Today's the first time hubby and I are celebrating Christmas with our baby daughter, in our own home. I am loving every second of it and I am grateful I have cheated death to be here right now. In their arms.
This Christmas, I raise my shot of Caramel Mudslide to second lives! And yeah, mummyhood too.