In was in April, 2007 that I first wrote about the ubiquitous tricycle in Dumaguete. Other than an increase in fare, very little has changed in that regard during these past seven years.
As I wrote in that earlier post, it would be an exaggeration to say that no one drives a car in Dumaguete, but Henry Ford's dream of the Everyman owning his own automobile, has not come to fruition in Philippines.
For those who own their own personal vehicle, the motorcycle is the vehicle of choice. With gasoline priced at nearly 5 USD a gallon, that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
Not everyone owns a motorcycle, however, and for these folks there are two main forms of transportation when one wishes to get out and about, either within the city or to and from the surrounding communities.
When going from point A to point B within the city of Dumaguete, generally, the preferred method is via the tricycle - a motorcycle with sidecar attached. Looking at the seats of the sidecar, one would suppose that it was designed to carry 3 or 4 passengers; I have seen as many as 7 passengers aboard, with 2 or 3 seating on the motorcycle seat behind the driver.
The standard fare for the tricycle is 10 pesos per passenger (about 26 cents American) - provided, of course, you stay within the city limits. Traveling from Dumaguete to Sibulan, for instance, increases the fare substantially; upwards of 100 pesos (not per person but per trip).
The more economical way of going from Sibulan to Dumaguete and back would be by way of a van ironically referred to as an "easy ride". The easy ride has a fixed route and catching a ride between Terminal A and Terminal B is just 10 pesos.
The easy ride isn't very large; it's smaller than the old VW van popular in the 60's and 70's. Still, you'd be surprised just how many folks can squeeze in, sitting on one of the two benches that run along the inside.
Unlike the bus driver in the U.S., should the easy ride driver see you and believes you might be a customer, he will wait until you catch up. He wants as many passengers as possible. When you're having to pay 55 pesos per liter of gasoline, every 10 peso coin helps.
If you wish to exit before coming to the terminal, you tap your coin on the hand rail of the easy ride. It works much better than trying to explain to a tricycle driver where you want to go. More than one tricycle driver has had a problem understanding such simple directions from me as "Lee Plaza" or "St. Pauls"; My accent is too slang, they say.
In 2007 I wrote:
Because I don't live here year round, I can look on all of this as a romantic,exotic adventure. I don't know if I'd have the same high regard for this sort of transportation if Dumaguete was my permanent address.
Well, now Dumaguete- or rather it's "suburb" Sibulan- is my permanent address. I can say that today I still have a high regard for this form of transportation. Mainly, I'd say, because I certainly wouldn't want to drive in this city.