Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Fat Commuter in the Philippines

Hi, my name is Aaron and I am fat or obese or whatever. I am 6'1'' tall and I weigh in at around 300 lbs. I am completely comfortable with my body regardless of the considerable mass and volume it may have. Sure, I do try to exercise through basketball and other things to improve my health. But my life expectancy is the only real driver for any attempt to get slim.

Unfortunately for me, my body's aesthetics always seem to be a cause for concern for others;I get teased by kids whenever I pass by streets in places I don't usually visit, my parents' friends always see me as "those two's fat son" and I'm sure looks have been thrown my way without me noticing them. But none of these things bother me. It may bother somebody else. But I see myself in too high regard to be bothered. But in the case of something like commuting, I can't help but be pissed off.

For my entire life, I've been a commuter. I know how to drive. But the gas prices and the damned toll prices from Alabang going north can really keep the car in the garage. And for my daily commute, I have to ride a bus, a jeepney and a tricycle. And of all of these, the bus has been the least discriminatory against me.

I've never experienced discrimination in a bus. Maybe it's because I always find a way to fit myself and two others on the seats on the driver's side. And the number of passenger always keeps the conductor preoccupied leaving no time to give a remark about me or any other passenger.

As for jeepneys, the barker and the driver sometimes insist I sit in front. I don't know why. But I always oblige. I always sit after another person sits next to the driver so that at least only one knee would be forced to suffer the pain of being squeezed onto the metal fabrication of the vehicle. This rarely happens. And letting it slide has always been my course of action.

As for the local tricycles in my neighborhood, they just piss me the hell off most of the time. Here, we have the option of special rides where the passenger pays for three passengers instead of one. Whenever I have to ride, they always ask me to pay for the special trip. I simply refuse and walk to the main road to catch a ride with one that already has a passenger or two. But there are just people who take things to a different level. Sometimes, they would pick me up from the neighborhood streets with the pretense of offering the non-special ride. If they are unable to pick up another passenger, they would harass me for the special fare. Being the hothead that I am, I would always impose my will and let out a profanity-laden tirade coupled with a swift turn away. I always get my way because of the disadvantageous position they have at my stop-over which don't allow tricycles to stay long. Other times, even when I am going to a specific house and willing to pay the special fair, I get passed around in the terminal because, according to them, their tricycles are incapable of carrying me around. And it's always the younger drivers who act this way. A lot of those young tricycle drivers are dicks.

Considering everything I've written so far though, the discrimination I face while commuting on a daily basis is manageable to me. I just hope that people who experience the same discrimination or harassment deal with them without having to resort to submitting to the harasser's will.

Us fatties need to get places too! And we'd appreciate some decency.


Things like discrimination are hard to manage. They are internal to an individual and may cost more than the benefits they may reap in some cases like having a discrimination case conducted by a problematic justice system (link); expect a ton of settlements being done instead of a lengthy trial which won't result in conditioning the offender's mind to be better. But has the government incentivized such discriminatory behavior?

In the case of the UV Express drivers/operators having stickers that discriminate against people of considerable size, there is one aspect of the issue not tackled by the reports presented by media groups that I feel is important: the front seat of those vehicles are designed for one person. You can't put the seat belts on if there are two of you there. And those seats that are supposedly "apatan", they're good for only three, as indicated by the curves in those Urvans' seats. I'm not sure about how UV Express handles its business in other places. But why is the LTFRB allowing these Nissan Urvans to load up on more passengers than their design accounts for here in our area?

It's not even limited to the issue of blatant overloading. For example, why has the local government of San Pedro, Laguna allowed a situation to arise where tricycle drivers in our area have the cushion to be picky?

I've ranted before about the traffic situation (link). And I understand there are a lot of stuff to be done that may be higher on the priorities of other people. But then again, we have a diverse group of agencies that have separate powers and expertise.

When Atty. Ariel Inton of LTFRB talked about commuter discrimination and focused solely on those stickers and set aside the fact that the shuttle buses are overloading their vehicles, he passed the guilt to us fat people. I guess the reason that a driver is not getting the most profit out of a trip is me and my fat ass, not the industrial design of his vehicle.


  1. I find it really hard to understand why some people seem to love to criticize others for their looks. I always say, you shouldn't comment on someone's height, weight, lack of child, and whatnot as you don't know the real story behind. What if they're struggling with their health or are suffering from depression or something?

    People can be so insensitive sometimes. If only we can learn to focus on the more important things rather than spend our time on trivial ones.

    1. I guess the environment really dictates how discriminatory behaviors develop. I grew up in an environment where you can tease friends about those stuff. I have no problem being called "Baboy" by my friends. I get irritated if strangers have the nerve to call me that. But it especially pisses me off when my size becomes a concern whenever I get called out when I do what every individual needs to do like tricycle drivers or UV Express calling out my size whenever they treat me unfairly. And the crazy thing is that whenever I tell these kinds of stories, some say it is a wake up call for me to lose weight. As if if I lose weight, the problem disappears. How about other fat guys? And why the hell am I the one that's supposed to be compromising when they're the ones breaking ordinances and industrial safety standards?

      This is the world we live in. As much as I would love for people to be non-discriminatory, if governing bodies don't dole out rational penalties for this type of behavior, there's no incentive for people to change.