During my long bus-rides to and from high school when I was younger, I noticed that some bus drivers would habitually spit out into the street. Some even would stop the entire bus ride for a quick minute to relieve themselves right on the bus stop! It was quite a sight. The bus driver would board the bus again, while adjusting the large shiny pistol tucked beside his shiny belt buckle. I thought these were peculiar habits (and entertaining I might add) but now that I'm older, I think I know the reasons behind them.
After his visit with Manolo, Jun knew of another friend that he thought he could stop on his way to Ilocos Norte to deliver his bottles of Listerine. He looked up at the sun and towards the road to realize he could proceed to Enting's nipa house. Enting was an old friend he had known since he was twenty.
"Enting, Enting, this is your friend Jun. May I stay in your house tonight?" He was let in and led into the only room in Enting's house. He noticed that like at Manolo's house, there were many people. The radio and T.V. volumes were turned up quite loudly and the smell of strong vinegar and spirits could be smelled from across the room. Jun quickly realized that he had stumbled into mortuary wake.
"Our old friend Bayong had passed away this afternoon. We want to make sure his body is cleansed so the busaw do not come to get him." Enting explained. "The busaw had already claimed the corpse of Merced, Bayong's deceased wife. Bayong had a heart attack when he found out his deceased wife's body was missing."
In the corner of the living room while some people were washing Bayong's body, Jun pondered how to help his friend deal with the busaw . As he remembered it, the busaw was a ghoul who was also a corpse thief. An aswang who looked and behaved like ordinary human beings by day, it listened for sounds of death in the evenings, and dwelled in large trees near cemeteries. It had pointed teeth, hooked nails and a long tongue. It took banana tree trunks to replace the dead as it stole the corpses out of their coffins. Then, spiriting the corpse off after first turning it into a pig, the busaw would feast on it and even try to feed it to their human neighbors during the day in order to turn them into ghouls like itself.
To ward the busaw off, the corpse had to be washed completely with vinegar and strong-smelling herbs. Sharp or shiny metal weapons had to be dangled between the slots in a nipa house's bamboo floor. The busaw are also warded off by strong noise and sound, such as those that come from the radio or T.V., or from the playing of card games, or the feeding of large number of wake guests. The busaw also despised salt in all its forms, in food, sweat, spit or even urine.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Jun asked his friend Enting. "Make some more noise with our folk here. Let's drink distilled coconut juice, play Pusoy (poker) and relieve yourself wherever you can. That should ward them off. Long enough, they may just go to another barrio to feed off some other corpse, but at least we'll be rid of them." Enting explained.
"I have some extra vinegar. Here, sprinkle some of this over Bayong's grave for good measure," Jun insisted.
Jun stayed another night before he proceeded on his journey to deliver the Listerine. Jun, Enting and Enting's folk was finally able to bury Bayong under and close to Enting's house. They reasoned that they could watch over the grave and that the loud radio, vinegar and shiny metal weapons would make the busaw leave the Bayong alone.
On Jun's sendoff, Enting's folk thanked him with some white chicken, rice and water to bring with him on his journey. They had also advised Jun to periodically spit and relieve himself along his path to Ilocos Norte, lest the busaw gets hungry enough to try and injure him so he dies a slow death and be eaten.
Nowadays here in San Francisco, the bus drivers have different habits. They're peculiar in their own way, but haven't had the chance to discover if a real story exists behind the habits. But I know I'll always be amused at the bus drivers who used to drive me to and from high school and home.