Horrendous Manila traffic a normal thing for a people long accustomed to a hellish life

On my comfy half-hour train ride going home from work, I sat amused while observing a steady line of tweets and Facebook updates streaming down my mobile phone — the poignant helpless anguished cries coming from poor souls lost in the wilderness Manila’s steaming traffic jungle. And here I was just 15 minutes ago fuming over my usual train arriving two minutes late at the platform in my station. Indeed, ain’t life here in Sydney tough? But that’s the great thing about social media. It keeps me constantly reminded of Phil Collins’s iconic words:

Think twice. It’s just another day for you and me in Paradise.

So what’s a guy like me living in Paradise to do other than write, yet again, about Manila’s traffic — this time from a safe and comfy distance applying the sort of outsider’s perspective that my compatriot tropical islanders so neck-deep in these sorts of (to me) distant “issues” consistently fail to take when regarding these things.

The thing with Australia is its people make making things work look so easy. Traffic flows because the system of traffic signalling and signage, roads and lanes layout design, laws, rules and ordinances, and the pipeline of newly-minted vehicle operators joining the community of road users here is well-regulated.

Note how I emphasized community in the last sentence above. Motorists after all constitute a community of road users. In a community that works, the members that constitute it interact with one another in a mutually-respectful manner that results in an emergent harmony over the bigger picture. For traffic to flow smoothly on a large scale — benefitting the bigger society rather than a small elite minority of enclave dwellers, the motoring community and its support system (land transport planners, legislators, city executives, and law enforcers) need to behave like a community on a large scale. Metro Manila’s infernal traffic woes are, contrary to popular belief, not the root cause of its overall hellish state. It is but a symptom of a consistent failure whose perpetual festering contributes to the relentless growth of its underlying rot.

Filipinos are allergic to obvious solutions.
Filipinos are allergic to obvious solutions.
In the Philippines, behaving like a community is, quite simply, too hard. Filipinos would rather build walls around enclaves built on arbitrarily-located tracts of land all over the city through which alternate traffic routes could’ve been built. We would rather toss, dump and/or flush down our household solid wastes into the city’s many once-beautiful esteros. The Pacquiao Nation would rather pander to the cultural symbolism of their Kings of the Road — the rust buckets that make up our mass transit “system” of jeepneys, tricycles, and kuligligs — rather than entertain the harder but obvious solution of simply tossing all of those contraptions into the junkyard and conscripting their operators into the Army to fight the Chinese. We tolerate public utility buses loading and unloading indiscriminately in the middle of the road — an obvious problem that begs an obvious solution that strangely swamps the intellectual faculties of the country’s foremost “thought leaders”. In short, there is no “Philippines” in the real sense of the notion — only a bunch of arachnids clambering upon one another for a piece of the proverbial bayabas.

So now the rains pour and the floods roll in. Suddenly everyone is “shocked” by how everything goes to hell — as if conveniently forgetting that, rain or shine, Manila traffic is always bad. Because it is so bad and been so bad for so long under normal circumstances we use this otherwise unacceptable but routine normalcy as a baseline for complaining about the relatively worse circumstances abnormally heavy rains bring about. The only solution evident in the horizon in light of these attitudes is the hope that the flooding and 4-hour traffic jams these cause will someday be regarded as the new normal that will serve as the baseline for when new “acts of god” turn the new 4-hour traffic jams into the newly-shocking 6-8 hour Jakarta-style gridlocks of Manila’s future.

You see a similar pattern across Philippine society — how current problems become normal life-as-usual baselines on top of which new problems fester. Bad traffic becomes a baseline for complaining about worse traffic. Stopgap employment overseas becomes a baseline engine of the economy on top of which we pine for more foreign money to fund our nation’s unsustainable growth in basic needs. Poor and corrupt law enforcement becomes the baseline upon which arming private security forces becomes the normal safety insurance for the average businessman. Idiotic politicians become a normal abomination to behold upon which ill-thought-out initiatives to go shopping for System-of-Government 2.0 are hatched.

When people start to see staying at the office until 11pm so that their trip home can be made in one hour as a brilliant “solution” to the traffic mess, it is a sign that underneath the silly smiles being flashed by the thousands of dime-a-dozen Sarah Geronimo clones on Philippine television, is a sad nation bankrupt of any real tangible hope. When living in hellish conditions becomes “normal” and people who point out the hellish nature of said conditions are regarded as the devil by a people who consistently fail to see the devil in their own ways, it becomes difficult to find substance in any slogan that extol the virtues of “hope” and “pride” in the Philippines.

Indeed, in the Philippines substance is a dirty word. That is because an inability of Filipinos to follow simple rules and uphold the most basic principles is at the core of their chronic inability to progress…

Filipinos in general are incapable of any form of discipline because they focus more on form rather than substance. In short, they want to stand out. They lack the discipline to engage in discussions in a civilized way and lack the discipline to not turn a public forum into a circus. This is why issues do not get resolved. This is a consistent observation — from every Senate inquiry being broadcast to the Filipino public down to the most benign discussions in the blogosphere, Filipinos love honking their horns.

Worse, Filipinos in general feel a strong sense of entitlement to relax or “chill-out” even when there is still so much to do to move the country forward. Instead of discussing solutions seriously and in detail during their spare time, Filipinos would rather spend it fooling around — never mind that societies from great nations like China, Japan and South Korea have historically shown that being more serious and devoting more of their time to solving problems yields better results in the long term.

From the top guys and gals sitting behind desks at the Presidential office down to the tricycle driver down the road, everyone just wants to have “fun” in the Philippines first before tackling the problems of the land in a more serious manner. You can be forgiven for thinking that one hit wonder Wang Chung probably wrote the song “Everybody have fun tonight” for Filipinos. It can absolutely boggle the mind to wonder why Filipinos cannot limit switching to party mode when they are at an actual party.

As discussed in my previous article, Filipinos are proud of being a happy-go-lucky society and make it a point to show the rest of the world that they are coping with smiling faces despite the dire circumstances they face. This mentality shows that Filipinos are satisfied with mediocrity and find striving for excellence too daunting. A few remaining Filipinos who want to engage in a more serious discussions are even labeled “kill-joy” or “librarians.” Aside from their penchant for bullying when others don’t engage in “pakikisama,” Filipinos indeed, have a tendency to discriminate against more sober ways of tackling solutions.

pnoy_on_flooding

Shocked and angered by Manila’s traffic? Well, Filipinos made the bed they sleep on. That, after all, is what “independence” is really all about.

[Photos coutesy Boylit De Guzman and Jerry Ocampo.]

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Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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70 Comments on "Horrendous Manila traffic a normal thing for a people long accustomed to a hellish life"

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Gogs
Member

Based on Noynoy Aquino logic that traffic is an indicator of a healthy economy. Does that mean the economy is even healthier on nights like last night?

Johnny Saint
Guest

The Philippines is SOOO prosperous the hot money is fleeing the stock market.

Chris
Guest
until DumDum’s recent tirade in the comments section of one of your posts, I did not realize that you are living in Sydney, playing armchair quarterback. I guess I have not read enough of your posts to be aware of your situation. One would think that the way you bitch and moan that you were here in the Philippines trying to make changes. However, you have exiled yourself to the comfort of Australia to complain about your homeland and belittle those that cannot or will not leave the country. What you seem to not realize is that having a largely… Read more »
ChinoF
Member

Just because one is not in the Philippines doesn’t mean they don’t know anything about what happens here. OFWs know what is happening here. They do.

Wanna start doing? Start by changing yourself. Be a person who abides by rule of law, who stops gossiping, who doesn’t drink liquor and get drunk at the wrong time, who stops latching on Pinoy Pride, who doesn’t bully others, etc. Be the example you want to see in others. That’s the BEST ANYONE CAN DO.

Chris
Guest
“Circle the wagons boys, we are under attack!” FYI Chinof: I am jot a drunkard, a gossip, or even Pinoy. I don’t have time for that silliness. I am busy busting my ass to provide for 4 children and a working student who is doing her best to prove to us that she is worth the infestment. She is not related to the family in any way, but we treat as though she is our child. In addition to working 70 hours a week, I am also the family taxi driver. I do indulge in visiting websites to improve my… Read more »
Dude
Guest

@Chris

Oh my…don’t be so melodramatic! What’s so distressing about reading an article from someone who uses an alternick?!? A lot of famous people used different names too when they wrote a book.

Why don’t you focus on what’s being said instead of the messenger?

ChinoF
Member

My advice, “Start by changing yourself” is intended for everyone out there. You might want to share it with friends and family.

Chris
Guest
Nice dogpile boys. Why noy just say “Join the choir or shut the fuck up!? That is what you would like, right? As benign0 stated, your target audience probably does not even read. Withvthat in mind, everthing you write in this blog is futile. You might as well join the party and sit around drinking Tanduay. You might get about the same amount accomplished. Dumdum is a piece of work, but at least he puts his real name out there. If you believe in what you write, why not elect someone to put their name and face out there, go… Read more »
Dude
Guest
@Chris What is with you and your obsession with people’s names? You seem to have this inability to focus on the message. Are you even using your real name? Who are you to dictate on what people should or shouldn’t do? Why don’t you go on YouTube yourself? What if the writers don’t want to enter politics? Is that really a problem for you? The country’s problems will not be solved by GRP writers entering politics. Why are you so consumed by what they are doing? It’s a free world and since you are so into your “freedom”, stop telling… Read more »
Nah
Guest

Have you ever even been to the Philippines? To Manila?? You should feel privileged to live in the United States. The government would not even give aid to the farmers during a drought and, instead, opened fire on them. 3 murdered, 200 injured. You talk of spying and being intrusive in the U.S. However, there are laws in place that protect such a thing. As you’ve said, the Philippines is more of the “wild west.”

We’re both American, but ignorance like yours makes me shudder about the people I live with.

Chris
Guest
I guess I hit a nerve! What you fail to realize is that the only thing the separates The Philippines and other “Developing Countries” and “First World Countries” is one week’s pay. If the dollar crashes, Filipinos will be in a lot better shape than Americans. If the Euro tanks, Europeans will be in a bad spot. Tho societies you worship will be in a shambles as soon as the gas stations go dry, fhe ATMs run out of money, and the grocery stores close. One thing you cannot deny is that Filipinos are survivors and have the ability to… Read more »
ChinoF
Member

Heck, Euro and America seem to be sinking, but remember, the Philippines has always been in a worse state than them. Look at unemployment and poverty figures. And just the character of people you see around you here in Metro Manila. “Horrendous” is an understatement.

Chris
Guest
The west is sinking and the people that are living off of the government teat are in for a rude awakening. Asia is the bright spot. Hopfully the Philippines behefits from that trend and there is some wisdom used if opportunities arise. It is doubtful since the dyhasties will pickpocket anyohe bringing money in. Things on the national level are not going to change any time soon. You cannot depend on your government to do the right thing here or anywhere else. Low information voters who fall for the same tricks every election are going to continue along that path.… Read more »
Dude
Guest

@Chris

You’re the one who needs to get real! It’s more fun for you in the Philippines because your dollar goes a long way and you have servants you can pay peanuts.

There is no equal opportunity in the Philippines and you don’t realize that because you are not in touch with the common folks.

Chris
Guest
Dude, I am about as real as it gets. So you think I am a rich foreigner living the high life because it is sooooo cheap here? Where should I begin? Electricity in the Philippines is the second most expensive in the world next to Japan Gasoline is twice the price here as it is in the US. Good thing we do not own a gas guzzling car. I put 200 pesos a week in the tank of my motorcycle. Milk for the kids is 3 times the cost here as it is in the US. MY kids drink 12… Read more »
Dude
Guest
@Chris You make it sound like there is no such thing as gangs, home invasion, gun culture and violence in the Philippines. You just proved that you are not in touch with reality. Furthermore, you make it sound like the Philippines is a truly secular country. Hello?!? Do you want to know why the country is overpopulated and why Filipinos think Cory Aquino is a saint? It’s because of religion and how it consumes the average Filipino. You have the freedom not to expose your children to religion anywhere you are. I don’t think religion in US public schools is… Read more »
Red
Guest
Hello, I’ve been a fan of this blog for quite some time. I’ve been involved with a few projects to help improve our country from skills development and job creation (I was focused on local self sustainability and development of local industries and was not the biggest fan in making OFWs as they can break families). In retrospect, i have had several meetings with many well intentioned filipinos who have complained about the many ills of this country, from infrastructure to politics to the class system etc… they have complained with such a passion that it led me to think… Read more »
Chris
Guest
I was first attracted to this blog because of the differing viewpoint from what you refer to as the Yellow Media. I was hoping there was more constructive dialogue on these pages with solutions, not just criticisms. While the concept of using plastic to make diesel fuel is exciting, it is prohibitively expensive for the average person. On the other hand, the project to reuse water bottles as light refracting prisms to provide free light in homes really addresses the basic needs of the poor in this country but is not mentioned anywhere. A section that proposes real, feasible solutions… Read more »
Johnny Saint
Guest
Pardon me, but you are referring to Illac Diaz’s “Liter of Light?” I’m sorry, but I tend to lump him in with the “good looking do-gooder” crowd that is popular because of hype and non-Filipino, mestizo appearance. Not because the solutions they propose are workable self-sustaining ones. The criticism I’ve always had with the water bottle solution still remains — what happens when the rainy season kicks in? At best the water bottles will provide some light for maybe half the year. And the plastic to diesel solution was never intended to become a strictly backyard operation. The best way… Read more »
Chris
Guest
unfortunately, that is the showman that I am referring to. As much as he likes to pretend that he is the originator, The idea was developed at MIT and is also being used in other parts of the world. It is not clear what part he took in the development, which is one of the reasons I did not mention his name. the other reason is because another project of his was abandoned in Negros Occidental after he cut some corners and made a critical error. That said, while not perfect the idea has merit. It is useful for a… Read more »
Jazer
Guest

Benign0, haven’t you realized that this notorious traffic problem is caused by the system of Imperial Manila? A paradigm shift away from an Imperial Manila will solve this problem and allow other regions (not just Cebu and Davao) to grow as well. This will also ease the government’s job in enforcing the law and cleaning up the mess since once the paradigm shift happens and the people of Manila think that there are opportunities all around the country, they will leave the capital as soon as possible and therefore the first clause of this sentence happens.

Dude
Guest

@Jazer

Haha! Nabuko ka na. You just copied and pasted Orion Dumdum’s comment. Someone pasted it here also. Nautusan ka lang at sumunod ka naman. That’s more proof that your movement is just a cult. Orion is the cult leader.

Can you actually use your own words in explaining what your leader meant? Mga promdi kayo. Para lang mga maid. Utusan lang ni Orion.

Wayne Chetoco
Guest
Orion Pérez D. Someone please go in there and ask Malign0 the question, point blank: “Benign0: haven’t you realized that the traffic problem is not a result of not following rules, but is the result of the Philippines’ centralized-around-Metro-Manila system? Don’t you think a shift in paradigm that would cause the Philippines to get decentralized so that regions get empowered to develop themselves economically instead of everything just being all about Metro Manila would actually help to solve the problem?” Do paraphrase it… But MANY OF YOU ought to go into the comments’ section and call Benign0 on his blatant… Read more »
Dude
Guest

Unfortunately, Orion’s minions couldn’t even “paraphrase” it…hahaha!!

Buking na naman si Orion na gusto lang mang-gulo dito sa comment section. Bakit hinde sya magpunta dito? He just wants to make it look like there are more people complaining about GRP. Style bulok si Orion. Hanggang ngayon he’s still using other people to fight for his cause.

Magisip kayo mga utusan! Inuuto lang kayo ni Orion.

Jazer
Guest

I did paraphrase it.

Dude
Guest

@Jazer

Bingo! You really have no shame in admitting you are just Orion’s minion. Loser!

aggrupation
Guest

Haha, nagpapalusot pa ang tuta!

There’s no idiot like a useful idiot, like you. Your wee internet king must be proud of you. How would we know you’re not doing the old “palusot” routine?

The fact remains that you guys appear to be mere yesmen. You had a choice to not look stupid by at least paraphrasing well.

kuroz
Guest

Hello, I’ve been lurking here for a long time, reading around the articles here and the comments area. This thing here has aroused my interest (negatively though), since I was planning to join Correct, but I somehow held back due to being busy in real life.

After reading this, and stumbling upon a defamatory blog seemingly made by members of the said movement (that was posted in another article’s comment section), I’m glad I didn’t join them. My opinion of them has taken a nose-dive, to put it mildly. I never thought they’d be this low.

Arnibal
Guest

Orion Dumdum is cut off from real life.

StalinJ
Guest

Great! The traffic problem in the Philippines is nothing new. Coming up with solutions would be noteworthy rather that just whine. Typical Filipino writer, all complaints without any viable solutions.

Get Real!

Amir Al Bahr
Guest

Typical Pinoy who expects the solutions to be handed to him/her on a silver platter. Why don’t you try first this thing called “thinking for yourself”, long considered moronic by Pinoy standards?

Jetlag807
Guest
With each administration at the Palace, the traffic gets worse (although with the current occupant the situation becomes worsens exponentially). Each new MMDA Chairman enters the office and 1) cancels any and all projects under the previous chairman (whether said projects were successful or not) and 2) tries to reinvent the wheel by coming up with some new idiotic scheme which defies all logic and common sense. Filipinos wonder why us “foreigners” become so aggravated at the traffic situation here saying we should just “be patient”, “shut up” and/or “go home”. The reason this tragic comedy enrages us (and I… Read more »
NEKNEK MO Malign0
Guest
Orion Pérez D. Nice thread you started, Anton — you are totally right… A lot of people use those CLICHE reasons over and over again and they all miss the fact that they didn’t go deep enough to get to the real root of those problems. In fact, while I agree that Education is a key solution, A LOT OF PEOPLE forget that Education has costs since Education IS AN INVESTMENT. And since there are such costs, the question is WHERE ARE THOSE RESOURCES coming from to pay for those costs of education? That’s the missing ingredient that so many… Read more »
aggrupation
Guest

Soon people will come here not only for the articles, but also to marvel at a certain reform movement of fearsome internet warriors who crap up comments sections and set up blackmailing blogs against people.

Stressed? I beg to differ.I think that there’s nothing more hilarious than seeing a wannabe Prime Minister and his uto-uto henchmen (I hope he’s reading this) fail at being taken seriously.

Go back to your internet treehouse and plan more internet raidz, eh, CorrWRECK?

Johnny Derp
Guest

Its really pitiful to see that orion has resorted to dispatching out his “flying monkeys” only for them to be shot down by the peeps at GRP.

Ilda
Admin

I actually warned him before that if he continues to badmouth other people, he’s the one who’s going to look bad. Unfortunately, he didn’t listen. What’s worse is that he blames other people for the negative publicity his movement is getting because of his appalling behaviour.

Frankly, I am more annoyed now at CoRRECT members who tolerate Orion’s bullying tactics than Orion himself. As the saying goes, all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Johnny Derp
Guest

Ilda,
Like I said earlier, orion and his goons are no different from those wacky naz-I mean malacanang trolls that used to attack this site(with very little success).
It’s really sad how orion has resorted to using thug like tactics to attack GRP.

Ilda
Admin
Sigh…how sad that Orion has turned out to be a bitter man. Of course a lof of our ideas would mirror Orion’s ideas. He was once a part of GRP after all. We’ve always said that we are not against his three point agenda. He’s the one insisting that we are and he’s managed to convince his followers to attack GRP too. The only reason he got kicked out of GRP is because of his appalling behaviour as exhibited in his comment above. He was trying to boss us around – trying to dictate what the core writers could and… Read more »
Chris
Guest
Seems comments can only go 4 deep in a thread: @benigno – I know that once my kids leave the house that they will see the culture as it is. We have a very traditional household. The dinner table is where we talk about the day’s events and the kids are responsive. We do not own a television. We do have three computers due to the nature of our work and for the kids to do homework on. The computers are all out in the living room. We are aware of what is going on. We pre-screen what the kids… Read more »
Dude
Guest
@Chris What are you talking about? My comment was not deleted. It’s still there. And if you still can’t find it, I’ll paste it again. I have to admit that I got that bit about you not wanting your kids to pray at school wrong. My bad. But the rest of the stuff you keep blabbing about is YOUR LIFESTYLE CHOICE. You even brag about sponsoring someone by paying for her studies. Big deal. Lots of people do that not just you. I do that too but I don’t make a big deal out of it. So, care to respond… Read more »
OnesimusUnbound
Guest

The comments here either

1. deleted by the admin if it fails to meet the TOS.

2. Takes much time (I think five mins) to show. It appears to be a technical issue.

More likely scenario 2 occur. I’ve noticed the delay in my and other recent comments.

Boylit De Guzman
Guest

may i request that a correction to a photo attribution.

the photo of the buses blocking edsa was taken and posted by me. not by top gear philippines.

thank you.

ความรู้
Guest

First off I would like to say terrific blog! I had a
quick question in which I’d like to ask if you
do not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts
before writing. I have had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.
I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like
the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted just trying to figure out how to begin.
Any suggestions or hints? Thank you!

captjoe25
Guest

Chris, why can’t you admit it. The Philippines is nothing but a dysfunctional rag tag country. Your the one that need to stop that BS Filipino melodramatic behaviour. You must be watching you many tal
Enovelas. Benigno is just ttying to point out the shortcomings ofPinoys. There is nothing wrong accepting a constructive criticism. You might learn a thing or two but looks like your part of the majority. Pinoys who still carry the Peter Pan Syndrome. Grow up and stop playing this childish games. MAN UP AND DO YOUR PART!!!!

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