I decided to take driving lessons because I realized that this is a necessary and practical skill to learn. I have a friend who recently had driving lessons too and she recommended A1 Driving School to me.
I took the seven-hour course on manual car driving. That package includes:
– 7 hours of hands-on driving
– 2 hours orientation
– 8 hours of lecture
The following are my experiences throughout my lessons from them. This post was continually updated as I studied driving.
Getting Student Permit
Before getting your first lessons on driving, you have to get a student permit at the Land Transportation Office (LTO). A1 offers assistance on this with a fee of Php700, inclusive of the LTO registration fee. You will be given a schedule for the student permit. A service car will be provided and one of the A1 staff will drive you to the nearest LTO branch. Just a word of caution: arrive on time based on your schedule. Mine was at 9AM at their SM Mall of Asia branch and I was left by the service car because I arrived at 9:20AM. By then you’ll have no choice but to reschedule your student permit appointment. Actually there were two of us that was left by the service car. Good thing there was still a schedule for student permit at SM Southmall at noon that day. I went to their branch there and through their asstistance, I got my student permit at LTO Las Pinas.
Before the Actual Lessons
Daisy, the receptionist at the BF Homes branch was very friendly and attentive. Before you take your actual driving lessons, you first schedule your slots with them. Though my preferred times were rescheduled several times because it was in conflict with their Christmas and End-of-Year party, my driving lesson schedule was flattened out eventually. They would also text you a day before your schedule to remind you of your appointment with them.
Hands-On Driving: 1st-2nd Hour
My first-day session was at the BF Branch. I met with my instructor at the branch itself. Since I haven’t attended the orientation, the first 15 minutes was spent giving a briefing on what to check on the car before driving. And then, we were off. When we arrived along Sucat road and to my utmost horror, I was asked to already go behind the steering wheel. Well what was I expecting anyways. It was my first time to drive a car ever, and this experience just drove me nuts. It was like practicing surgery on an actual ill patient!! ><
As expected, I was really tensed throughout the session. My instruction’s nagging didn’t help really.
Hands-On Driving: 3rd-4th Hour
This time, the meeting place was at the A1 branch at SM Sucat. I was with the same instructor. From the parking lot, he was the one who drove until along Sucat road, and that’s where we switched seats. I drove the car until we arrived to their training center in Las Pinas. There I practiced back parking, facing the wall, and parallel parking. I was also taught three-point turns (and some other turns that I can’t remember the names now lol). I was not able to smoothly do driving uphill-hanging, and that’s the part where I got mostly frustrated (adding up to my instructor’s nagging ugh). After doing all those stuff at the training center, I drove all the way back to SM Sucat.
I don’t know what got into me that I went straight to driving without attending the orientation! Maybe I was too eager to try driving? But upon attending their orientation at SM MOA, I realized how stupid that decision was. In the orientation, all the basics are tackled like the parts of the car and the things to do upon riding the car (locks, side mirrors, adjustment of chair, etc.). The correct footwork was also discussed. Muscle memory is the key!
My knowledge was further furnished listening to the lecture because I was able to re-learn them. I am so happy that I was one of the two attendees there (out of the 20+ people) that correctly answered that the clutch is the one the makes the car move and not the gas. All thanks to my instructor (even though his nagging irritated me a lot xD). That is one of the lessons that I have learned the hard way during the uphill-hanging driving.
Hands-On Driving: 5th-7th Hour
I decided to replace my instructor because of the mishaps I had during the first two sessions, and I am oh so glad I did. If you are going to take an A1 course, I recommend you to get Junie as your instructor! He is my dream instructor personified! He was so good in giving instructors that I gained confidence in my own flavor of driving. I really enjoyed my last hands-on driving session. I was less nervous while driving. We were even chatting while on the road. 😀
Lecture One and Two: All About Defensive Driving and Other Useful Driving Topics
That’s not the official title of the lecture series, but basically it’s all about that. Lectures #1 and #2 are both 4-hour lecture sessions. Fear not, because you won’t get bored because this will not be like your boring lectures during school. This is something that I’ve realized when I attended the A1 lectures. My thoughts never wandered to some dreamy land when I was at the lecture session because I know for sure that the concepts and the skills that I will acquire in the class will be used in the matter of life and death on the road. Knowing that the concepts would be extremely helpful for me in real-life situations on the road, the lecture had my 100% attention. It helped that they included video footages of actual road accidents in the lecture. It was kinda traumatizing seeing people get killed by rushing cars. But we must realize this as beginner drivers because that’s reality. The vehicle that we are learning to operate can kill people if not used in the proper way. x(
It’s crazy how a mere one-second mistake can cause an accident and hurt not just yourself but innocent pedestrians on the road. I am satisfied how A1 instilled this in my mind. (Though I have to manage this fear rationally, because I tend to drive reaaaaally slooooowly because I don’t want to hit any vehicle or people on the road xD).
|A1 classroom at SM MOA|
I bought their manual books. All the topics covered in the two lectures are here (plus lots of more essential stuff)
Assistance for Non-Pro License
A1 also provides assistance for those who want to apply for a driving license at LTO. I applied for the non-pro. There’s a fee of Php1,800 + Php150 to be paid at the LTO. There’s a written exam and a practical exam. For our case, the latter one was waived because they said we learned from a driving school anyway (though I wished I’ve done it, just to test my skills).
After a few hours of waiting, I finally got my license! Yaaay! Thank you to Marlon (the A1 staff that was with us) for your patience with us! And also thanks to all fellow A1 classmates that I have made friends with while waiting at the LTO!
|This is how my actual license looks like. :)) (confidential information blocked by a fat totoro)|
I can now officially drive! I am new on the road and I am still continually learning. I am very happy that I was able to achieve this goal because this is a lifetime skill that I will surely benefit from.
For those planning to take A1 driving classes also, here are some tips I can give based on my experience:
– STAY CALM. Driving is all about having a presence of mind.
– Attend the orientation first before going on hands-on driving. Hehe I think this is common sense. xD
– HAVE COURAGE! Driving for the first time can really rack your nerves, but once you get the hang of it, you would actually find it really easy!
See you guys on the road! Beep beep!
DISCLAIMER: Through this post, I am not implying that I am now the best driver in the world. I am just narrating how I was able to learn the foundations of driving through this school. Honestly I haven’t had much experience in driving since I finished my lessons. I only drove during the weekends and I haven’t tried driving in an expressway. So I still have lots to learn myself. 🙂
image credits: athenna.com | smsupermalls.com