Friday night. Payday weekend.
I made plans to have dinner with a friend, uncharacteristically. On Friday nights, I would normally be found at home, watching Netflix, guzzling chips, and beckoning my cat to sit beside me (she doesn’t, that tart). I was coming from my office in Makati and decided to take a car service going to Bonifacio Global City instead of testing my luck trying to hail a cab. Since it was almost 6:00 in the evening on a Friday payday night, Uber’s surge rates were ridiculous. I turned to Grab for the first time and found the fixed fare to be more reasonable. Within five minutes, I had a driver. Excellent. Let’s call him Fred (not his real name).
When I got inside Fred’s car, I was feeling pretty good. He greeted me very warmly, and I felt comfortable enough to start a conversation with him. Fred seemed like a nice guy. We lamented the traffic a little bit, as usual, then I asked Fred about his weekend plans (because it was a long weekend weekend at that time). He said he was just staying in Manila, but if he could, he would go back to Palawan where he worked as an engineer for Hagedorn when he was younger. Palawan is one of my favourite places in the world, I told him. He started reminiscing about the days when Palawan was practically underdeveloped, and how beautiful it was before it boomed as a prime tourist destination. I thought this cab ride might be one of the bests in my book.
We were waiting for a stoplight to turn green along Makati Avenue when he asked me a really strange question. “Ma’am, Katoliko po ba kayo? (Ma’am, are you a Catholic?)” Huh? What does my religion have to do with El Nido and Coron? The evening’s first red flag went up.
“Um, yes. Kayo po? (Um, yes. What about you?)” I asked.
Fred said he was also a Catholic. “Ma’am, alam niyo po ba kung sino talaga namumuno sa mundo? (Do you know who really governs the world?)” Alarms started ringing inside my head. I checked the door locks.
When I hesitated to answer, he gave me options. “Tao? Pera? O si Satanas? (People? Money? Or Satan?)” This ride officially become weird at that point. What the fuck is going on?