All you want to do after a long weekend teaching grammar to barrio kids and playing the same old tired songs with your band in a remote town in Leyte is sleep the long ride home. You wish there’s only you in the boat as you snuggle in your seat at the economy class (concert organizers love to book you in the economy when you’re too tired to argue that your talent deserves at least a tourist accommodation). Then you realize it’s a Sunday — everybody’s going home on a Sunday. So you brace yourself for one crowded ride.

But there was something particularly special about this one Sunday’s trip because it was like half of us in the boat were children. By children I mean pre-school, frisky little monsters that jump from one seat to another shouting “Mamaaaa, watch ta shark ha!” And when the children start screaming, their mothers scream even louder: “Ayaw kan-a nang binagol Jay-R. Kang ate na. Ayaw lagiiiiiii!!!!

At first I thought there was some kind of a field trip going on, maybe an educational trip on the children’s role in Leyte’s budbod-making industry. But when I noticed the absence of order that is only brought about by a school principal’s presence, I realized these kids were not connected to each other except by their innate skills in trying their mothers’ patience.

Which made matters worse. There’s nothing more riotous than dozens of children stranger to each other trapped in a little boat ride home. I could hear four-year-olds silently cussing at each other: “I’m a lot more irritating than you are. Watch me!”

Along with groupies, fast crafts are among God’s greatest gifts to us musicians who have to travel to the neighboring islands quite often for that extra buck. Fast crafts are, well, fast. The air conditioning system works. The seats are soft. The toilets flush. The crew members smile, a lot.The smile is fake, but it works. In a fast craft, we arrive at our destination as fresh as when we left home. If this were in the 80s when boats were made of plywood, I would have given up gigging.

But the fast craft is a technology that failed to consider the children. Fast craft owners should seriously think of having a separate accommodation for children and their mothers. The accommodation must be cheap so mothers will opt for it and leave the rest of us to Mr. Bean movies that surprisingly continue to be funny even if we’ve seen them a thousand times already. It’s really difficult to appreciate Mr. Bean when some little boy is standing on the seat in front of you because he is on the lookout for sharks.

And this one particular boy was so convincing that whenever he shouted “Shark!,” I automatically looked out the window to see nothing outside but rain coming. I tried to sleep the boy off. I succeeded, but not for long, because now the rest of the children had joined him and woke me up with a chorus of “Shark! Shark! Shark!” I looked out the window and found garbage at sea. We had arrived in Cebu.

( weekend magazine)