MANILA, Philippines – Generally peaceful.
This was how Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Chief Colonel Ronnie Montejo said the situation was at the bus terminals around Cubao on the eve of Undas, which saw relatively less congestion than anticipated.
Most Quezon City residents seemed to get a head start on Undas, as 20,101 people were recorded at cemeteries and columbaria in the city as of 12 am on November 1.
Meanwhile, only 7,355 people were counted across all bus terminals in Quezon City during the same time, QCPD told Rappler.
As of 8 pm on Thursday, October 31, there were barely long lines at majority of the bus terminals. At Araneta bus terminal, for example, there were only an estimated number of 120 people. The terminal peaked at 4 pm with a number of 200 passengers. Meanwhile, the Victory Liner bus terminal only had an estimated 500 people.
Montejo said that people living in the southern provinces, such as in the Bicol region, Visayas, and Mindanao, may have opted not to travel this weekend in favor of going home during longer holidays like Christmas.
The largest passenger influx was seen at the Five Star bus terminal, which had an estimate of 1,500 passengers up until 9:30 pm.
LOOK: On the eve of Undas, the Five Star bus terminal in Cubao holds an estimated number of 1,500 passengers as of 8pm, according to the Quezon City Police District. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/ryAijoQ9Uy — Loreben Tuquero (@reetuquero) October 31, 2019
Officers on the ground say that more people were present at Five Star around 5 to 6 pm, so a lot of people were able to get home early. They also said that there was more congestion during those hours because buses got held up at the North Luzon Expressway. The situation improved, however, during the later hours as it was easier to go in and out of the bus terminal.
One of the people waiting for a bus ride at the terminal was Diane. She was pregnant, and had been waiting at Five Star terminal since 5 pm.
Her trip to Dasol, Pangasinan was scheduled at 11 pm. She explained that she was able to book online, but since the only two schedules available for pre-booking were in the morning and late evening, she went for the late evening schedule because she still had work during the day. However, the conductors said she can get onboard an earlier bus if space permits.
She was also accompanied by a senior citizen and a baby. "'Yun din ang advantage nung ayun, online, waiting ka na lang 'pag online kasi 'di ka na kailangang pumila eh," she said.
(That's the advantage of online booking, you'll just have to wait for your trip if you book online and you won't have to line up anymore.)
Officers at Araneta bus terminal said that passengers now know how to avoid the congestion anticipated during major holidays like Undas. They take advantage of online booking systems, look for alternate bus lines or terminals, and even leave ahead of the peak traffic hours.
Early preparations, suspensions
Montejo assured that no irregularities or incidents were reported on the eve of Undas.
Transport agencies started preparations for Undas earlier, conducting random drug testing for bus drivers and conductors. According to an officer, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agencies cleared all drivers and conductors.
Malacañang also declared a half-day for government offices on October 31, giving government employees more time to travel to their destinations.
Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.