Perks and perils of being semi-“promdi”

Posted on October 14, 2014


Commonwealth Ave.

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“Promdi” – n. (or sometimes adj.) Filipino slang term for “from the province”, used to describe a person from a rural area coming to live in the city.

Ah, Metro Manila. Land of diversity and excitement. Densely populated with a population of around 98,734,798 persons as of 2013, the city is a mishmash of people from all walks of life looking for brighter opportunities. Not rarely do we see the trope of “innocent province girl moving to the city to provide a better life for her family” in Filipino teleseryes and films. “Moving to Manila” has become synonymous to “getting ahead in life”.

Baduy, ignoramus, naive. Some people use the term “promdi” to insult the provincials living in the city and failing to fit in. I do not want to use such a term to insult. It’s generalizing and discriminatory. It shows a backward way of thinking and utter Manila-centrism that won’t really do anything to help the current situation of the country. I want to use the term as a quirk, a term for people adjusting to the city life and yet still remains deeply rooted to their provincial self. It’s a term for people who have two places to come home to, making their lives twice as colorful.

As a millenial originally from the neighboring province of Cavite, I usually tend to go home after a trip to Manila since it’s just about two hours away. That is, unless we are counting school days in which case I had to live away from home on my own. Based on personal experience, this is what it’s like to be a middle class, commuter promdi from a province near Metro Manila.

1. For us promdi people. transportation is no joke.

It is not advisable to inform us of “biglaang lakad” (sudden hang-out) when we’re  still in the comfort of our own homes. Especially if we do not have our own vehicles, and if we are still living under familial curfew. Actually, even if we do not have curfew we would still insist on going home early. Say, thirty minutes after getting to Metro Manila, if we ever get there by rush hour.

2. Rush hour is our worst enemy.

If the trademark rush hour traffic breaks the strongest of Manila-bred spirits, it’s even worse for commuters who have to go home to their nearby provinces. A two-hour trip to Manila can turn into a five-hour trip, or seven. That’s approximately the travel time from Pasay to Baguio.

3. It is utterly frustrating for us to have to see all the cool events in Metro Manila at risky hours, unless we can sleep over at a friend’s place.

This is, of course, a classic dilemma for adolescents looking for a bit of fun in Manille. It’s even worse for the hip promdi who just wants to join in on the fun. Ah, look at all the parties, concerts, exhibits, film festivals, and plays we will not go to!

4. The thought of sleeping over at a Manila friend’s place has crossed our minds more than once.

We have most likely done so.

5. We have gotten used to dorm life.

This means pancit canton at least once a week (if not once a day), setting aside dorm fees from the monthly baon for students, doing a lot of our own laundry, and preparing for travel every week or break.

6. Every time we are supposed to go back to our provinces, we have to constantly double check our stuff to bring home.

It’s very frustrating to have to leave something behind during the Christmas break. 

7. For us paranoid promdis, we are highly aware of the dangers of night travelling.

Most likely we would avoid going home late. And by late I mean seven or eight PM.

8. We have developed the skill of calculating travel time.

If we have to get on the bus by six, we will most likely get to Manila by seven thirty or eight, depending on the traffic. The paranoid promdi will most likely add a few more hours to that, so he or she will probably leave the house by five to get to Manila by ten.

9. We have most likely heard the phrase, “‘yan ba ang natututunan mo sa Maynila?” (is that what you learn from living in Manila?) at least once in our lives.

This is usually said in a negative tone, by a scandalized mother shocked by our sudden Manila-influenced liberation.

10. We have also probably underwent a style change or lifestyle change – be it clothing choices or a sudden liking for electro-indie music and Cinemalaya.

But don’t we all rant about how we are, like, so jej before?

11. A promdi studying in a prestigious Metro Manila school has probably brought a lot of school merchandise to wear back at home.

Lanyards, jackets, shirts, jogging pants, baller IDs, dog tags, socks…name it, we have probably flaunted it.

12. And he or she has probably taken a picture with some celebrity as well, for the same purpose.

Obligatory selfie with *insert aging actor visiting the school to promote new indie film here*!

13. We’re good with pasalubongs – picking, preserving, etc.

Here’s to hoping that this buko pie will last longer than most celebrity marriages.

14. Reunions with former barkadas probably stemmed from weeks of planning, especially if they all have their businesses in Manila as well.

And we’re pretty used to people cancelling or rescheduling because of a family reunion/funeral/party/sprained ankle/sprained motivation. It’s no big deal. But these barkada reunions will always be special.

15. There is always a different sense of comfort and sentimentality every time we go back home.

There’s nothing like seeing the grassy fields and cows again after conditioning ourselves to high-rise buildings and defective metro trains. Coming home is always extra special after we endured hours of travel just to get there. As much as we love the urbanity of the city and the changes it brought to us, there’s nothing like coming back home to a place more familiar to us than anywhere in our lives. There’s no place like Metro Manila and there’s no place like the province, but for us promdis, we can call two places home and it will always be twice as fun going back.