I was on my way to work (summer internship) this morning when Tatay read an article title out loud from the paper he was holding. "Manila 3rd Worst City for Driving", he said. I wasn't surprised, and neither was he. I don't think anyone on this country would be surprised with that news. Ironically, we were trying to dodge the usual morning traffic rush I sometimes encounter en route from the south to Ortigas.
I have been driving for a few years now. It was only recently though that I decided to break out of my comfort zone and start driving past SLEX. This week necessity dictated that I drive to Ortigas alone, for the first time. I made it alive, but that entailed talking myself through it, a lot of calls to my dad checking and double checking if I got on the right roads, and a lot of prayers. When I got home that night I was a little more confident in my driving skills but I was stressed, harassed, and PHP 180 poorer (the price of parking in Ortigas).
Why exactly am I scared of? What makes driving in the streets of Manila so taxing?
Here is a list of the top 5 things I find most annoying when driving in the Philippines.
Manila is full of these! They come in all shapes and sizes-- a motorcycle, busses, trucks, and ignorant pedestrians. I particularly despise rude motorcycle drivers, inching into every space they feel they will fit into with utter disregard to traffic norms and etiquette.
2. Getting lost.
I do not trust the signs in this country, there's always a chance they've been tampered with, or stolen, or broken. There's never enough, never in places you can see properly.
3. Corrupt traffic enforcers/ineffective traffic enforcers.
At one point, I saw seven traffic enforcers in an intersection in Bicutan. Not surprisingly, more damage was done instead of good. The use of traffic lights were mere suggestions to them, their uncoordinated 'stop's and 'go's didn't really do anyone any good.
4. Really weird roads and road rules.
One particular place I'm scared of driving in is Makati. I can never understand the flow of traffic in that city. For someone unfamiliar with the place, these one way streets can be such a hassle. Getting somewhere here does not entail using the shortest possible route, but the right one-way roads. There is also the matter of blocked u-turn slots. Here, a missed turn will not be fixed by a u-turn and simply going back the way you came. The next open u-turn slot will probably be in the next city (or at least that's how far it feels like). Not really helping with the issue of rising gas prices.
5. The inevitable problem of where to park.
Say you get there, after initial celebrations and that pat on the back you gave yourself, you realize you've come across another problem: where do you leave your car? Between outrageous parking prices, and that's if you actually find a spot, and shady parking areas, what other choices do you have?
On the front page of today's paper, it said: "Manila 3rd Worst City for Driving". Why am I not surprised?
And yet, amidst the feeling of futility and disappointment with our roads, we hold our heads up. We consider ourselves survivors to the crazy and ridiculous system that is in place. We wear it as a badge.
There will always be a small smile in every Filipino when they say, "If you can drive here, you can drive anywhere in the world!"
What are your traffic pet peeves?