HUNDREDS of passengers bound for the provinces flocked to the Araneta Center Bus Terminal in Cubao, Quezon City on Thursday, hoping to reunite with their loved ones in time for New Year’s Day.
But for Albert Mision and countless others, the lack of buses either made the wait too long or the entire trip uncertain.
Mision, a father of two, had been waiting for almost 24 hours at the terminal to catch a ride. He hopes to make it to Bicol by January 1 to be with his family.
“Okay lang kahit matulog na ako dito, basta makauwi lang ako sa pamilya ko (It’s okay for me to sleep here as long as I get home to my family),” he told The Manila Times as he sat on a cardboard that also served as a makeshift sleeping mat.
Mision, one of hundreds of passengers praying not to miss their scheduled trips, said his annual travel to the province was getting more difficult every year.
Many were still lining up in front of closed ticket booths, hoping that “Wala na pong bakante (No more seats available)” signs—which implied that trips were already fully booked—would be taken down soon.
“Nagbabakasali lang po kami. May narinig po kami baka magbukas daw po dito ng last minute (We’re taking our chances. We heard they might open here at the last minute),” Susan Soli, a chance passenger, said. She hopes to get two tickets to Legazpi, Albay.
Bus company JR Volante Lines’ ticket booth’s window, however, displayed a huge “Fully Booked” sign for trips to Albay province in Bicol until January 2.
Fully booked trips were mostly bound for the Bicol region, including Masbate, Sorsogon, Gubat, Bulan, and Naga, as well as the Visayas provinces, as of Thursday noon.
According to Chief Insp. Mario Manipon of Cubao Police Station, about 1,000 passengers have trooped to the bus station as of 12 p.m., and the number continued to swell because of delayed trips due to inclement weather and heavy traffic.
Manipon urged passengers to learn their lesson and book their seats in advance next year.
“Kung meron man silang petsa in mind, ibili na sana nila ng ticket ahead of time upang maiwasan natin ang pagkakagulo dahil marami na tayong chance passengers dito (If they already have a date in mind, they should buy tickets ahead of time to avoid trouble, because we have a lot of chance passengers),” Manipon said.