It was the morning of December 16, 2013. I was pissed off at my sister for not being quick enough and I felt like we were running late having not yet left the house at 6:15 am.
Living in the south of Metro Manila at the time, we relied on UV Express shuttles to get us quickly to Makati because they take the skyway. The queue of passengers waiting to get a ride to Makati can be very long and we have already estimated that if we wanted to get to work by 8:30 am, we had to have gotten a ride by 7:00 am.
From the gate of our subdivision, we took a tricycle ride to get to the jeepney loading points where one can ride to SM Bicutan. The UV Express shuttle terminal was at the back of the mall. Upon reaching the tricycle terminal however, there were no jeepneys in sight. Also, there was an eerie feeling that tells someone that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
We learned that a bus fell from the Skyway down to West Service Road where we pass to get to SM Bicutan. It fell where most jeepneys stop to get additional passengers before moving on the next subdivision. I do not know the exact time when the accident happened but I suddenly felt relieved that my sister took longer to get ready or we might have been injured too if the jeepney we would have taken happened to stop and wait for passengers right below where the bus fell off.
The road was completely blocked but work won’t consider it as an excuse to be late. We had no choice but to walk and pass by the scene of the accident. There were so many people gathered near the scene with their cellphones out, snapping pictures and videos instead of lending a helping hand. One of the rescuers was already shouting at them to just leave if they won’t be of any help since they were blocking the road for people who must go to work or school. No one listened.
Despite the thickness of the crowd around the scene, I still saw the bus that was upside down and completely wrecked. I also saw the dangling legs of the passengers who were still stuck inside. They were grey. Lifeless. A few meters away, there were seven bodies lined up on the road. Those were the bodies the rescuers were already able to retrieve—also grey. I do not remember seeing blood which made me think that all damages sustained were internal. Or maybe my mind blocked that from my memory already because I could not handle it anymore.
We managed to get a tricycle a few hundred meters from the accident scene that accepted rides to SM Bicutan. We managed not to be late for work. As soon as I got to my office though, I went to my friend from HR and cried. I could not get the images of the accident from my head and I was shaking and wanting to throw up. In my head, all I could think of was how their families were waiting for them at home that day, waiting to share stories and eat together. That was not going to happen anymore for the eighteen people who died.
I lived in a two-storey house with ten clocks. Six of them were on the first level. It seemed like everywhere we looked, a clock was looking back at us. My dad made it a point to make sure all ten clocks were working. Some of them were timed ahead of the actual time just to trigger us to move faster. He was very strict with punctuality and that was something he instilled in us. I grew up always looking at the clocks; always moving fast and always hurrying.
When I look back on that day, I realize that we can try to accomplish as much as we can in our lifetime but sometimes, it pays to slow down too. Regardless, we will probably end up wishing we spent a little more time on something or someone or a little less time with the things that do not seem as important anymore. After all, we cannot see the future to figure out how everything will turn out for us.
We cannot control time. It will keep on moving even if we do not want to and it will stop for us when it has to. It may be kind enough to give you warning signs but it is not obliged to give telltale signs. Time cannot be rushed but it cannot be delayed either. We can only try to live life the best way we know how. We can only hope to not have too many things to regret about when time is up.