The Coda Lines Corporation is a bus operating company that was cultivated from the humble beginnings of the Codamon Family. In January 30, 1961, the patriarch, Herbert “Bet” Codamon was born in Kiangan, Ifugao from an impoverished family. Growing up, his parents never had enough to provide for him and his other five siblings. Hence, he had no choice but to look for a job at a young age.
Herbert started working as a jeepney conductor when he was 10 years old. He would also polish the shoes and wash the clothes of the drivers to earn extra money. He would even spend time sweeping the floor of the Guinid Express Bus in hopes of finding coins. In 1980, he eventually decided to stop attending school in order to help put food on the table, and help finance the education of his younger brothers and sisters.
Herbert was able to earn and save enough money to build a small business of his own. He entered the wholesale fruit and vegetable industry, and started delivering fresh produce from Kiangan to Manila, Baguio City and Mountain Province. This was during a time when roads in Northern Luzon were not yet paved and are in poor condition. However, Herbert was able to overcome these challenges and make ends meet for him and his family.
Shortly after, he met Risley Abeya Camtugan, the fifth child of the owners of the RC Trans—a transportation business plying the Sagada-Tabuk City route. After years of courtship, Herbert and Risley tied the knot. Now building a family of his own, Herbert learned the art of engine troubleshooting and vehicle bodybuilding in order to provide more for his wife and children. In 1988, Herbert opened the Kiangan Motor Shop.
Rising from the Rubble
In July 1990, a strong earthquake struck Luzon, killing thousands of people, destroying numerous infrastructures, and hampering business operations. Cordillera Administrative Region, the leading vegetable producer in the Philippines, was among the areas that were hit the hardest. Kiangan was not an exception—many of its farmlands and produce were destroyed. Hence, the Codamons were left looking for other places where they can get supplies for their wholesaling business.
These challenges did not hinder them to persevere, instead they were able to make their livelihood even stronger. They started purchasing vegetables grown in Cagayan Valley, and transported them to Manila through the circuitous highways of Ilocos Region and towards the Central Luzon.
Through hard work, the Codamons were finally able to purchase three units of bus and establish the Kiangan Motor Services (KMS) Lines in 1996. The franchise was acquired from the late Felicidad Bascos of the now-dissolved Bascos Trans. At first, the bus line operation includes trips from Kiangan to Baguio only. In addition, Herbert also worked as both a driver and mechanic while helping Risley with managing the business. They also hired two other drivers, Mike Baguilat and Doming Batag, to operate the remaining buses.
The first terminal was located in Tuplac, Kiangan, Ifugao, beside the Codamons’ old family house. In Baguio, KMS Lines shared the terminal at the Corner Otek Street, Barangay Jose Rizal Monument with the Nelbusco Bus Company.
Success in the Making
The years went well when the company gained the chance to acquire more franchises and units, adding more trips to their routes.
KMS Lines launched their Banaue-Baguio trips after acquiring a franchise from Jesusa Ligligen. With the franchise and the additional two units, the company was able to open their terminal in Poblacion, Banaue. Then the company eased out of the competition when Dangwa Transport ceased operations. It gave the company a head start in gaining all the commuters from the Baguio-Kiangan and Baguio-Banaue routes.
Following the company’s success in the Ifugao province, Reynaldo Pidazo approached the couple with his franchise for two units serving the Baguio-Cabarroguis route. This franchise opened an opportunity for KMS Lines to expand and operate in Quirino Province. The company was also able to fully acquire the terminal in Baguio City when Gamaliel Flores, the lot owner, gave them a lessor-lessee contract.
After years of establishing the company as a prime bus line corporation, Herbert and Risley Codamon had retired. Having faith in their ability to run the business, the elder Codamons decided to turn the management over to their children. Thus, the company is now a corporation with shares divided to their five daughters. Each of them has become a managing partner; and one of them, Gian Kyla Codamon, serves as the company president.
In 2015, after a lengthy deliberation, KMS Lines was renamed into the Coda Lines Corporation. In October of the same year, the company launched its Manila-Sagada trips, providing better and safer journey to the famed town of Mountain Province.
Bridging the Distance
Operating for almost two decades in public transport, the Coda Lines Corporation has grown from a three-man, three-vehicle bus line operator to a significant company that carries thousands of passengers all over Luzon every year. Today, the Coda Lines Corporation proves to be one of the few bus companies that caters beyond satisfaction.