How Megaworld Got Me to Restoring My Bug

So last Wednesday (a holiday, Independence Day), I went to Kuya Nards’ shop in Buendia to get my bug a new carb spring. While at a vulcanizing shop, Remi and I noticed that we were leaking engine oil. The engine had to be removed, since the oil gaskets needed to be replaced. I also got a new generator pulley and had Kuya Ter check the distributor parts (condenser, rotor, and contact points). I also had a change oil.

Happy with having the car maintenance stuff out of the way, we went home. To a memo. From Megaworld. It basically said that I could no longer park for free outside the condo-slash-suburb’s perimeter and that I have until Monday (June 17) to move my car elsewhere. They graciously offered to give me a list of available parking slots for rent inside the gates. Just how much is parking in Rich People Ville? Here’s the breakdown:

Security Deposit: PHP 7,500
Advance Payment for 3 months: PHP 2,800 x 3 = PHP 8,400
Subsequent Payments for 9 months: PHP 2,800 x 9 = PHP 25,200

7500 + 8400 + 25200 = 41100. Forty-one thousand, one hundred pesos. For a year. Of parking. For the purposes of comparison, my house rent is 3,000 pesos.

In my mind, I had three options: a. find myself a new parking slot elsewhere (because fuck you Megaworld, and fuck you too, homeowners’ association), b. park at Rica’s parent’s house in Sikatuna Village (which isn’t really near, but near enough), or c. sell the car. Option C seemed the most likely and practical to me, but Remi thought it was stupid. She’s right. Why would I want to sell the car because of a stupid memo?

She then offered Option D: Restore Car-car. It’s a brilliant solution. I don’t have to sell the car, I won’t have to worry about parking in the next 3 or 4 months, I would still pay but the money would be better spent in restoration than in aforementioned Rich People Ville parking.

As it happens, while waiting for the repairs to finish last Wednesday, I got a flyer from Kuya Nards. It was for a shop called ROS Autoworks[1], and they were offering body work and painting services with a quite yuppie-friendly payment option (6 months to pay). I contacted the owner of the joint, Rex Oliver Sembrano, and by Saturday, we were at his shop in Greenfields in Molino, Cavite. I got a very reasonable quote for body work and paint, and we commuted home. Funny how the universe works, no?

Anyway, work on Car-car is underway! I’m very excited. In lieu of this, I’ve decided to finally buy bumpers (the square ones from the Brazil models) and I’m getting a rain gutter for the decklid as well. I can’t wait to see the progress, and of course, the finished product as well.

1972 Volkswagen Beetle

Oh rust, thine greatest nemesis.


The bug in front is in far worst shape than Car-car.

Front fenders and hood removed

Scrape to metal, stat!

At the moment, it looks like somebody shot at my passenger side door.

My relatively okay engine and semi-scraped rear-fender.

Seriously, I can’t wait to see Car-car back to his shiny, pogi self. Let the War Against Rust begin!

1. If you want to know how that turned up, contact me.

What Happened on the Way to Mini-Stop

Also, ‘Never, Under Duress or Any Other Circumstances Including But Not Limited to Laser Eye Beams of Death Are You to Divulge Any of the Information Found Here to My Mother. Please.

So last Tuesday, Remi and I went grocery shopping – because heck, supplies don’t magically reappear in the cupboards of hungry yuppies. I drove. Now, you need to know two things: One, Car-Car (the tentatively re-named 1972 Volkswagen Beetle) has been home from the mechanics’ shop since Saturday and in case you’re counting, Saturday to Tuesday = 3 days; and two, I’ve been practicing driving since Car-Car made it home, an aforementioned 3 days.
So anyway, Shopwise didn’t have Marlboro Lights. At least a third of the five people who read this blog can sympathize with this. I, with nary a stick, will have to find some other place from which to buy a pack of cancer sticks. The only place that hasn’t (yet) failed to sell me cancer stick packs is the Mini-Stop in Katipunan Avenue. I therefore took the turn right to Katipunan instead of left to go home.
So we were rolling along merrily in 40 year old Car-Car, along Katipunan. Everything was fine and dandy in the world.

Earlier that day, I had taken Car-Car for my first solo drive to a gas station (also on Katipunan). Also earlier that day, I was chatting with Mabie about opening a new savings account. I never really told her why I wanted one, but for the interests of posterity and irony, I’ll have you know that I was planning to set aside money for car contingencies. Like if I ever need new tires or if I ever meet an accident, which I was sure I would because shit, I’m only beginning to like the idea of owning a car, and already I am deeply and intimately acquainted with the fact that I am a bad driver. So yeah, a car contingency account. Another irony was that I was checking out the savings accounts that included free life insurance.
Was that flashback necessary? It is, dear gentle reader. It is.
So we were rolling along, yes? Just before the stoplight at C.P. Garcia Avenue, I lay off the gas and stepped on the brake. Nothing. Nothing is the last thing you want to happen when you’re practically standing on the brake pedal (and of course, the clutch too) because kids, if there are any laws you can’t break, they’re Newton’s Laws of Motion.
*Let’s pause for a moment for a Science Break.*
The first Law of Motion, popularly known as Inertia, basically states that an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. (Or: A body moving on a level surface will continue in the same direction at a constant speed unless disturbed.)
Applied in practical terms, an object, in our case the car, will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force, which if everything had been fine, dandy and working as intended, were the brakes. Instead, the outside force that “acted upon” Car-Car was another car, a white Vios taxi.
Shit on stilts.
I’m not sure if this has happened to you, but the scene replays in my head in slow motion every 15 or so minutes.
Stepping on the brakes, Remi’s saying, “Masyadong malapit, masyadong malapit,” the taxi’s rear end coming closer and closer, the jolt to a stop, the taxi launching a foot from Car-Car’s front end, me saying, “Oh shit, sorry,” the cab driver getting out of the car and surveying the damage, me getting out to negotiate. Repeat ad nauseaum.
In hindsight (which is infinitely better than my foresight, see paragraph about savings), I realize that I could’ve pulled the handbrake (didn’t work in that scene in The Princess Diaries though, just saying) and that I could’ve pumped the brakes Jeepney-style, among a hundred other things that I could’ve or should’ve done. Pending an investigation of the said brakes, I’m operating under the assumption that it was not the brakes’ fault at all.
Because a. I left most of my pride on a curb along White Plains, and b. twenty-nine years of learning from mistakes had taught me that owning up to one’s mistakes is always better than digging one’s heels into the dirt and bullheaded-ly insisting one’s faultlessness like a child.
Anyway, Car-Car’s fine. Or at least, much okay-er than the taxi. The taxi’s rear bumper had caved in, and the trunk was stuck. Car-Car, at first inspection, was fine save for a crack on the handle’s hood. Once I had a chance to look closer though, I saw that the left headlight was slightly (like 2 centimeters) askew. It basically got mashed into the fender. Other than that, there were no visible signs of damage. The cab driver said, “Sa totoo lang ma’am, lugi ako. Volkswagen yan eh. Makapal ang kaha.”
At the Volkswagen Club of the Philippines Car Show last year, I saw a sticker that said, “Invest in Precious Metal” referring to the thick German steel but until last Tuesday, I never really took that seriously. Or at least, not THAT seriously. Remi, the cab driver, and I are also okay. I admit though that my remaining pride and my poor wallet took the brunt of the impact.
At the end of it all, Remi said, “Actually, I think you handled that pretty well.”
“Why, because I didn’t burst out crying the first chance I got?” I said.
“No, but crying does help.”
I shrugged. I never asked what made her think so. I didn’t think so.
Anyway, Remi said that it was bound to happen. Like a trial by clusterfuck, I guess. For all I know, Batman may be sending me a convoluted anti-smoking PSA. Or maybe it’s just the adage “Just when you think you’re ahead financially, something expensive breaks” coming true and rubbing its nasty ass on my face. Either way, no one was hurt and for that I am thankful (thanks Batman! And yay working seatbelts!).

Volkswagen Chronicles: IT’S ALIIIIIIIIVE!!!!

So about a month back, we made the decision to pull out the 1972 FrankenBeetle from Batangas from its then shop in Las Pinas to Kuya Nards’ shop in Buendia, Pasay. Towing a car, as I’ve heard, is a huge pain in the ass/wallet, but thankfully I got the services of Nino Ayroso and got the car from Point A to Point B without a hitch (and without blowing a fuse). I also got to save a lot since towing only cost me 2,000, a fraction of what the other towing services are extorting/charging.

Anyway, three mechanics started working on the Volks as soon as it landed in Kuya Nard’s shop. Right off the bat, they found many, MANY problems. There were a lot of wrong settings, the belt was too tight, and they suspect I have a hole somewhere in the engine that was causing the oil to leak. Everything was fixed, everything that was broken were replaced. They even gave my tires a new lease at life via a simple vulcanizing trip.
And thus after 3 years and four months, I am finally able to use the 1972 Volkswagen Beetle. It took 2 parking spots, 3 auto shops, and two towing stints, not to mention the blood, sweat, tears, and money (lots and lots and lots of money), but I finally got it where I want it. I’ve been test driving it around since Saturday, and it’s a thrill to be able to use it.
Every time I slide into the driver’s seat, I think, “They were right.” Tama nga sila. Remi, the folks at the forum, and the random people I’ve met who told me, “Tatakbo din yan.” After replacing the faulty ignition coil that caused our launch failure, it worked. I even had the mechanics break it in for me (i.e. use it for a week).

 Tatakbo din yan, tatakbo din yan. 

Volks Chronicles: Failure to Launch

So last Saturday, Remi, Mabie, and I were dipped in shit and rolled in breadcrumbs.

The plan was simple. We were to pick up the Volkswagen from Kuya Nards’ shop and drive it back to good old Quezon City. It’s simple enough, but if you’ve been following this series of posts, then you know that going from Point A to Point B is never simple. The simple enough plan turned into an unfortunate series of events that turned our Saturday into something Lemony Snicket may come up with.

Faint of heart, turn away now.

11:00 AM. Remi and I arrive at Kuya Nards’ shop and wait for Mabie.
11:30 AM. Mabie arrives, and we were off to the nearest gas station for gas.
11.50 AM. As we were pulling out of the gas station, a cab stops in front of us and thus I step on the clutch and brake. As the cab drove off, I release the clutch too soon and we stall. The car refuses to start.
12.00 PM. Helpful kuyas pushed us back into the gas station. I texted Kuya Nards and he told me to wait for the electrician.
12.10 PM. The electrician arrives and adjusted the contacts on the battery. The car started up fine.
12.30 PM. We were driving northbound along Buendia. I drove like an old lady. I popped the clutch a LOT. Seriously, if the car could scream for a better driver, it would have. (In my defense, I was driving as carefully as I could. Among the three of us, I’m the most inexperienced behind the wheel plus two of the most important people in the world for me were in the car.)
12.45 PM. Do you know the Buendia-SLEX intersection? I stalled there more times than I can count. I was getting frustrated and thus I asked Mabie to switch with me. (Quoth Mabie, “At this rate, we’ll get there by five.” Famous last words.)
12.50 PM. We were stalled in the middle of the intersection. The car was having trouble starting by this time. A traffic enforcer strolled over to us to ask what the problem was. The car started. Then I noticed the handbrake. It was up. (This Tanga Moment was brought to you by none other than Rio.)
1.15 PM. We were golden again. Mabie was behind the wheel, we were starting to hate the numerous intersections of Gil Puyat Avenue, and it seemed like it was getting harder and harder to revive the car after dying on us. I asked Mabie to pull over just after the gate of Dasmarinas Village and I tried to contact Kuya Nards again. All of his mechanics are out, and we decided to wing it anyway.
1.35 PM. We were cruising on EDSA. No hiccups, no stalls. Just cruising on EDSA.
2.00 PM. We took a right into White Plains and we were still moving when the car died. I couldn’t think of a reason why a car would do this save for spite.
2.20 PM. Stalled just before the stoplight at White Plains. Trying to start the car. An enforcer walks toward us and asks us what the problem was. The good enforcers volunteer to push the car to the safety of the curb.
3.00 PM. The mechanics aren’t back yet and the car was simply refusing to start. We kept trying anyway. We tried many, many times until it finally did fire up. I took the driver’s seat (Me: Are you sure guys? Both answer in the affirmative.) I successfully take the U-turn, but again popped the clutch when the light changed to green.
3.30 PM. The enforcers again push the car to the safety of a curb, this time on the shoulder right near the Latter Day Saints’ church. Still no mechanics. The car was refusing to start. Kuya Nards suggested that I hit the battery contacts myself. I do as instructed, but it was no dice. (Note: It started to drizzle and we all flashbacked to September 7, 2009, also known as Muntik Na Tayong Mamatay Day. We laughed at the absurdity of it all. Did the universe feel that our friendship needed to be reaffirmed?)
4.00 PM. MMDA tow truck pulls up right beside us.
5.00 PM. We were back at Buendia, having talked the tow people to get us back. (See Mabie’s Famous Last Words. We got there by 5 all right. We just didn’t get to the right Point B.)
5.30 PM. We were on the LRT, heading for Roosevelt. At this point, I had exactly 30 pesos in my pocket, having paid the tow people all the money I had left.
6.00 PM. Roosevelt station, LRT. We get off the train and take a cab back to the condo. Traffic was heavy, but workable.
6.30 PM. I noticed that the cab driver was popping the clutch. It was a No-Judgment Day, and seriously, I have fallen off the driving high horse and had been trampled underfoot by that time so I didn’t say anything. There were no problems, except that the cab driver was having trouble with dealing with Heavy Traffic + Incline + Gitgitan. There was a loud BAG! and a sudden jerk. Remi, who was riding shotgun, turned and said what everybody was thinking, “Did we just hit somebody?” Yes, yes in fact we did and the other guy’s getting out of his car right now.
6.35 PM. The cab driver was young, and he seemed like a sensible person. But at that moment, he panicked. We hastily paid him the fare and got out. The cabbie drove off and I caught sight of his bumper. It had a nasty gash.

It was 7 o’clock when we finally got to the condo and collapsed on the couch. At 1 AM, the day was officially over and we decided it was safe to leave the house. Remi and I brought Mabie home. On the drive back, a Volkswagen Beetle overtook us on EDSA. I laughed. Yes, Universe, I got the point. The Universe drove the point home with a semi-totalled Fortuner. Glass was strewn all over the street, and the Fortuner’s passenger side was crumpled in where it had hit a 16-wheeler.

At the end of the LONG day, it felt like I was dropkicked in the face. I was tired, broke, and my back was killing me, but I felt lucky. So incredibly lucky. Why? We didn’t stall on EDSA, we didn’t get hit by any ten ton trucks or buses, we received help, and while technically we did get in a car accident, no one was hurt. We got home in one piece, we didn’t have a meltdown, and we celebrated our small victories with burgers, because fuck you bad day. There’s nothing like transfat to improve one’s mood.

Also, at the end of the long day, I had two of my most favorite people beside me. They didn’t suggest that I send my car to the scrap heap and they rode in a vehicle while it was being towed for me. For that, I consider myself to be extremely lucky.

Additional Notes:
Bad Vibes Check – This is also known as a BV Check. This is similar to a stress check and should be done to avoid any sudden FOs (Friendship Overs). When the Universe is conspiring to make your life a living hell, it is important to periodically check on your Long-Day-Bus seatmates. Are you okay? Do you want coffee? Are we still friends? As soon as we get out of this curb, I’ll buy you anything you want.

Famous Last Words – In hindsight and in case magdilang anghel, it is important to specifically indicate both time and supposed destination. (From Mabie: yes. be specific. cos when i said i wanted to brush up on my parking, i did not mean for us to sit parked on various curbs and intersections for hours on end.)

No-Judgment Day – When among friends, it’s important to set days when no judging is to be done. This is to ensure that both sanities and friendships are left intact.

In my family, there was an instance when a cousin was renamed because he was sickly as a child. Maybe I need to rename the car (or have it exorcised for good measure).