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September 8, 2015. I wasn’t there.

I’ve known for the traffic in Manila to be an ongoing issue with this country since I was a kid. My family and I used to come home to the Philippines nearly every two years and it would usually be during the Christmas season when traffic was at its worse. I remember leaving the airport and it would take hours before we got to our house in Quezon City. My Lolo (grandfather) used to take us to Las Piñas and it used to take us ages to get there that my brother and I would end up falling asleep in the car. Over 20 years later, now living and working here in the Philippines, things haven’t exactly improved despite efforts of widening roads or introducing the “coding” system. I’ve experienced being a commuter in Manila and I’ve also discovered alternative ways of getting around Manila.

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I worked in the nightshift for 4 years and never had a problem commuting or driving to work. I opted to drive to work more though as I had witnessed an old man get mugged a few feet from where I was standing while waiting to ride the jeepney that would take me to work. I never tried biking to work in the nightshift though as parking my bike would’ve been a problem so that only other option was either to take the car or take a cab. It wasn’t until I found myself a dayshift job that I started experiencing what Manila traffic was really like as a commuter. I’ve so far experienced commuting to and from Sampaloc and to and from Quezon City. I tried riding the MRT (again, never again), the LRT, buses and I’ve even taken an Uber or a GrabCar. My favorite mode of transportation would always be my bike but because showers aren’t readily available and I would’ve biked over an hour to get to work, it didn’t feel good to be all icky (until I discovered the gym showers at The Globe Tower – and there’s free parking).

And then September 8 happened. I had just opted to move to Sucat and was already planning on spending my first night there and so I left work early to get a head start.

After that not-so-brief history, this is where the rant starts.

Prior to last night’s mayhem on the roads (which I amazingly did not experience), an article was published (yes, it’s in Tagalog and yes, I did understand what it said) about the government considering flagging down vehicles with less than 4 passengers in the car. Of course, it’s just a ‘consideration’ or an idea imposed by the government, and we Filipinos are known to get quickly get offended and are also quick to criticise anything the government imposes or

First they try to apprehend “colorum” vehicles, now they’re trying to get rid of vehicles that carry less than 4 people? This will bring on more colorum vehicles to operate! How about getting rid of old cars and adding fast lanes for carpool vehicles. Oh and not to mention, getting rid of stupid, ill-fitted drivers (especially bus drivers) who love doing zig zags on the roads. And why not actually educate people on driving and knowing when to give way and when to switch lanes, moreover, how to actually drive. OH and also, how about teaching commuters to actually wait on the sidewalk or bus stops rather than standing ON the road and for bus drivers to NOT stop just anywhere to pick up passengers. It’s not just about how congested our roads are (even if it plays a huge part in our traffic), but more on how people behave on the roads, not just drivers but commuters too. Whenever I bike on EDSA, buses and people are the biggest hazards and not the number of vehicles on the road.

We (or rather I) can go on and on about how we can improve the traffic situation here in Manila, but seeing how things are, especially with the ongoing road works, I don’t see it improving. Call me a pessimist but if we want anything to change here in this country, we’d have to start with ourselves and our mindsets. It’s so easy to point fingers and blame a certain sector of our government or the entire government itself, but sometimes I think that’s all we’re good at.

  • They want to introduce a carpool-only EDSA.
    • This will push for more colorum vehicles to operate on the roads
  • They want to change the working hours of government and private offices.
    • That just means that horrible traffic jams will start earlier and end much later.
  • They want to introduce a better plate number scheme.
    • People will just continue buying more cars so that if one of their vehicles isn’t allowed on the road, they have another vehicle they can take.
  • They want to widen the roads.
    • While this is a good thing, this gives more a reason for people to stand on the road or the buses to continue swerving in and out of lanes since they think that roads are wide enough for them to do so.

Again, I can go on and on but at the end of the day, therein lies the question, how are we going to solve this traffic situation? I never thought I’d write a long entry about this, given that I didn’t experience the horrible September 8 traffic. But I feel for our people and I praise those that sacrificed having to walk for miles and miles to get to their destination.

Bottomline is, we should all just ride a bike. I don’t know where that came from. I would rather bike and exercise for an hour than to withstand 4 hours of horrendous traffic.


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