I was in a bus, Lippad Trans, according to my ticket, commuting home to Makati. As my usual routine in a bus goes, look as bad-ass as possible. From experience, it's much better to be thought of as a bad guy rather than a good guy, especially in the public transport vehicles here in the Philippines.
The bus was a typical public bus; three-seaters on the left, and two-seaters on the right, divided by an off-center aisle. It had two entrance/exit points. My first seat that night was a little behind, on a three-seater. Someone was beside me, but we didn't really pay attention to each other. I changed seats later on, a decision that probably contributed to my being the only one who escaped the robbery.
Somewhere along the route (I forgot where, but I believe the bus was already very near Dasmarinas Village, Makati), many people went out of the bus. Total passengers at this point was definitely less than 20 people. Seeing an empty two-seater right behind the second entrance/exit door (near the back), I moved to it, so I could stretch my legs a little better. I was about 15 minutes away from reaching my drop-off point where I would take a cab. To my left, on the three-seater on the aisle seat, sat a man. He was sleeping, and had a messenger bag very similar to mine. Let us call him Sleeping Man (SM).
Two men were sitting behind him, and the one on the aisle seat - Robber 1 (R1) stood up and proceeded to sit beside SM to my left. In order to sit beside him, he had to step over the man, thus placing himself at the window-side of the three-seater. The sleeping man woke up. At this point, the accomplice behind the two of them - Robber 2 (R2) held the now-awake SM's shoulders. R1 proceeded to unzip SM's messenger bag, and methodically took out all his valuables, placing them in a worn backpack. He also patted down SM and took his mobile phone and wallet.
At this point, about one minute has passed since R1 sat beside SM. R1 and I were looking at each other. It was in that moment when I thought that, "Holy sh*t Jay, this is a true-blue hold up. Get the f*ck out of this bus, man." It wasn't easy as well. I looked for the conductor of the bus, and he was sitting beside the driver, napping. I was certain that there were only two robbers, until of course, Robber 3 (R3) proceeded to sit behind me.
R3 leaned forward, and I leaned forward as well, just in case he had something sharp that wouldn't be too healthy for me. His intentions weren't very healthy as well, obviously. At this point, I could see Magallanes MRT Station (I think it was Magallanes) coming up ahead. I know a lot of cabbies hung out around the stairs going up the station. I had to get out. When I leaned forward, R2 stood up and proceeded to open the bag of the person in front of SM. R1 was the "behind the victim backup" now. I had R3 behind me already; it doesn't take a genius to realize that I am supposed to be victim number three. Well screw that. The last time someone forcibly took something from me was in Grade 5; it wasn't happening again.
The bus had to slow down to approach the MRT station; it was a downhill slope coming from the highway. Expecting passengers, buses always open their doors prematurely when coasting to a stop, so that passengers can hop in and the bus wouldn't have lost much momentum. I decided that there's absolutely no way I could win a fight with three possibly armed and definitely ill-intentioned criminals. The point I decided I would escape the bus came about 5 minutes into the robbery. It was also when SM looked at me. That look of helplessness and cry for help will haunt me for some time, simply because I cannot do anything that would help him and help me as well. R3's hands held the back of my seat. I stood up. R1 and R2 looked at me, and I felt scared. The bus was coasting now, second entrance/exit point opening. MRT station was coming up. Two steps down to the door. I jumped.
The landing wasn't too bad; I stayed on my feet. For about two seconds, then the speed hit me. "It was still going fast, you idiot. I tripped, but something kicked in I guess, and I caught myself. The cabbies and a lady selling drinks and cigarettes shouted at me, asking if I was alright. I was shaking. Anger plus terror, and at that point? Mostly terror. But I was safe.
I was safe.
I was safe when many others in the bus were being woken up, only to find themselves being robbed blind. Life is hard enough as it is; we don't need others coveting and taking away our hard-earned or much-deserved earnings and/or items. I was safe, my instincts and quick decisions saving me my stuff, while someone like Sleeping Man will go home with nothing but an empty bag and the clothes on his back.
It felt good to have outwitted the three robbers. For about five minutes. Then the guilt of having not helped in any way sunk in. I didn't help SM. I could have. Maybe the three robbers weren't armed. Maybe I was stronger. Maybe. Maybe.
I guess I followed up what Coach JP at Elorde Boxing and I talked about during training:
Coach: Why do you box?
Me: Self-defense, Coach.
Coach: What is your first weapon?
Me: The mind.
Coach: Second weapon?
Me:: Running shoes.
Coach: What about boxing?
Me:: Last option.
Coach: Very good.
Yes, I'm trying to make myself feel better about it.