Overcoming idiotic Filipino drivers: Three tips for navigating Manila traffic

From a macro collective perspective, the Manila traffic situation is really a simple issue. What we call the “mess” that is Manila traffic is no more than an emergent property; a collective outcome of the idiotic behaviour of the system’s individual elements — Idiotic Filipino Drivers. Tell-tale signs of a truly idiotic driver is a traffic negotiation style characterised by frequent rapid acceleration followed by hard braking, and awkward squeezing into tight spots. All are hallmarks of a habitual failure to anticipate, empathise, and foresee.


These are aspects that, when understood a bit more deeply, hold the keys to a successful conquest of Pinoy-style road traffic; thus,

(1) Keep tabs on what is going on behind you. It is a good driving habit to glance at your rear view mirrors every now and then. Usually, agressive drivers stick out like an attention-deficited kid in a class of well-behaved students. The more you are aware of and anticipate their movements, the less chance of you getting caught in a surprise cut in once these morons catch up with you.

(2) Do not signal your intentions when planning to shift lanes. The Philippines is a nation of takers, not givers. The moment a neighbouring motorist senses your intention to move into her lane, she will speed up and close the gap you are planning to fill. Empathy for the typical Pinoy condition reduces the ill-manners of surrounding motorists to nothing more than a sporting challenge — like how the experienced tennis player applies an intuitive understanding of the physics of moving objects to evaluate the best way to whack an approaching ball back across the net.

(3) Continuously evaluate the situation four or five cars ahead of you, or as far ahead as your line of sight allows. Most Filipino drivers are morons lacking in foresight. They will often attempt to get ahead by swerving into a lane without realising there is a jeepney ahead in that lane stopping to disgorge a load of passengers onto the pavement. Use your far keener anticipation faculties to hem in cars behind jeepneys so that their drivers’ malicious intentions to cut back into your lane ahead of you are thwarted.

Final tip:

Apply a bit of driving class.

Don’t involve your passengers in the driving process. I’ve seen entire families involved in hand signalling surrounding motorists as their vehicle squeezes from one lane to the other. I’ve also seen passengers (in some really pathetic cases, the drivers’ dates) getting out of the car to assist the driver squeeze into a tight parking spot. Uncool, to say the least.

[This article was originally published on benign0’s blog on the 22nd Dec 2010.]


Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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31 Comments on "Overcoming idiotic Filipino drivers: Three tips for navigating Manila traffic"

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These are idiots’ advice for borderline idiots. And he dare call those drivers idiots, not seeing he is an idiot himself. This one took the icing. (2) Do not signal your intentions when planning to shift lanes. The Philippines is a nation of takers, not givers. The moment a neighbouring motorist senses your intention to move into her lane, she will speed up and close the gap you are planning to fill. Empathy for the typical Pinoy condition reduces the ill-manners of surrounding motorists to nothing more than a sporting challenge — like how the experienced tennis player applies an… Read more »

Item 2), although I take it with a bit of sarcasm, is actually correct when driving in the Metro. Drivers here speed up when someone signals their intention to change lanes. I guess Filipino drivers can’t stand the idea of being “behind” someone. Wish they could adopt that thinking in a Macro-Economic sense but that’s asking too much!


Even if it is true, it doesn’t mean that it is the right thing to do.

I still use my signal lights when changing lanes, even in EDSA.

Why is it that people generalize the philippines or filipinos as a whole??I dont get it though I agree that there are a lot of filipino drivers that does belong to the street, where they should drive or ride a horse…. And creating an article that is lacking, why is it really all to be blame on the drivers???first who are the one who implement the licensing of the driver? LTO should or must implement it rules or stricken there rules regarding the license acquisition. Second implementation of traffice laws, who will apprehend if caught, are there strict penalties regarding… Read more »
Why is it that people generalize the philippines or filipinos as a whole?? — Because people tend to generalize. Our ancestors would have been killed if they tried to find out whether each sabertooth tiger was friendly or not. why is it really all to be blame on the drivers?? — Because they’re the ones who are the main actors. LTO should or must implement it rules or stricken there rules regarding the license acquisition. — So you’re saying that just because a rule isn’t being implemented consistently, it shouldn’t be followed? If the PNP fails to catch a murderer,… Read more »

Nice rebuttal brother

yes l agree with you in a way….l actually think its the only way to drive in a bumper to bumper metro driving there,if you have time as a factor, for most people it be time related,in my experience as a driver in a western world l reckon the long distance bus drivers are the best drivers there, and l see to how it works there in a sub-conscience level in all the people on the road is the smaller you are is the one to give way to thee bigger they use the side of the road and the… Read more »

The word there is “intention” and with intention comes patience. Well at least for those of us who know what patience is. If you use your signal lights at least be patient enough to wait. Not just shoved dick where you spot a hole.

Dan THE Man
its simple, when driving in the Philippines: Never give the ‘right’ of way to anyone but yourself. Never follow street signs, because they are for everyone else, not you! Never can you drink too much while driving as there is no sobriety check outside of Manila. Never worry about how fast you are driving as there are no radar guns in the country. NEVER be considerate and remember you ARE the ONLY driver on the road. NEVER stop to assist an accident victim as you will be blamed for the accident. If in an accident , KEEP going and always… Read more »

“NEVER stop to…”

But SLOWDOWN enough just so you know what’s happening, if there are police, and if the person involved is a celebrity.

Just a tinge of sarcasm? When I bought my motorcycle in Manila, I put about 1000km on it in a few weeks. I was hesitant to go on EDSA at first, but found I would have to sooner or later if I wanted to go someplace. I found it kind of fun actually. Driving in the Philippines is a balance of offensive and defensive driving at the same time. You always have to be on the lookout for that driver that is going to literally come out of nowhere, but you also have to be the driver that comes out… Read more »

“Sometimes I long for the organized chaos of Manila, drag-racing on Roxas from stoplight to stoplight!”

Haha good post but with the bumper to bumper traffic these days, I doubt that would be possible anymore.


jeepney, taxis, buses and truck drivers all suck


last vacation – i almost forgot that there is no such thing as “RIGHT OF WAY” in da homland – after several close calls – i realized im in da hood! and actually i almost never used my horn driving in da hood. but then again i realized its the way to communicate in da hood! dats the way da pinoy rolls.

on generalization? last time when i was in pinas – not once i witnessed someone demonstrated the “RIGHT OF WAY”. actually di tinuturo yan sa pinas. so the author is 101% correct on his generalization.


oh i forgot, there is no such thing as fast lane in da homland. you can run 20kph in the inner lane and it doesn’t matter. hell, nothign matters – lamang lang ng isang paligo ang pinas sa india in terms of road discipline.

pinoy thought that driving is operating the vehicle and thats all that matters to a pinoy drivers. as with anything else they don’t know what discipline/rules/etiquette is. but the good question is – does pinoy even know what discpline and etiquette is? no wonder road rage in da pinas resulted to several shooting incidents.


[…] Transportation Office’s (LTO’s) draconioan licensing process continues to churn out idiotic Filipino drivers, this is really asking too much of the Philippine […]


now that someone has finally brought this up (and how much hell it is like being a driver and a pedestrian) wouldn’t it better to inject driving and traffic lessons/safety in school than historical propaganda?


You are right cee, what we really need is discipline not all propaganda, propaganda, and propaganda.



There’s a reply, it seems, to your great article.


MOST filipino drivers drive like aholes. Whether car they are driving.. Honestly what we lack is DISCIPLINE.. I am no longer wondering why there are a lot of accidents, traffic jams and S****.


We should all admit that “most” of the time, we have to drive that way to get through to this damned streets of metro manila. It ain’t right but what the H.

I’d say that discipline should be hammered in everyone’s brains just for kicks. It’s not just the bus, jeepney’s, taxi’s, trikes and trucks who are responsible for this “organized chaos” it’s everyone. Even pedestrians.

Filipinos are smart but heck, we are sometimes too smart for our own good.

Lindsay Tang

The driving in the Philippines is HORRIBLE !!


All 100% spot on….no edits needed. Filipino drivers are RUDE, even the very few that have drivers licenses. They are takers and always trying to one up their fellow citizen. SO SPOT ON!!!


What’s the fuss?? This is a country where mandatory Drivers Education BEFORE getting a license is NON EXISTENT! Slide a few bucks under Window 7 along with the application, smile like everyone does, and have a seat! License released in 2 hours (if the computers aren’t down…).
Anyone can get a license, and that’s what makes it dangerous…
Oh, and don’t forget…
The roads are shared with stray dogs, tricycles, children playing, rude bikers, goats, trash, jaywalkers, streetwalkers, hawkers, rouge cops, road kill, racing buses, speeding cement mixers, demon vanpool drivers, bicycles, more trash….
Driving here is no walk in the park…

Don’t forget the rice drying in sun on sacks taking up the whole right-hand lane. Nowhere left to escape to when the oncoming truck flashes his lights and pulls into your lane regardless whether you have anywhere to go on your motorcycle… Education would normally be the answer, but in this self-righteous place no one is ever wrong so no one can be better informed… Ask someone to work for a day and there’s every excuse under the sun to be lazy – manana, Philippine time and such brainless nonsense. But same person behind the wheel and it becomes vital… Read more »
The only safest way to drive in a manila traffic is to drive a 60-ton main battle tank as NO one would dare get in your way *sarcasm* Seriously, I do not know if the drivers here in PH are trying to emulate Mad Max or “survival of the fittest” is the rule of PH roads. Then there’s these taxi, jeepney, FX and bus drivers who drive their vehicles as if they in a race tracks and don’t give a damn or two about others on the road, just to make a wage quota per day. Hell, it is more… Read more »

The Philippines is so messed-up that I don’t know whether this is sarcasm or realistic advice.

What’s obvious though is that some people aren’t even smart enough to wonder whether this is sarcasm or not.


Philippine islands is to small for roads.


You forgot to mention the indiscriminate use of blowing horns.

John James
I have ridden and driven over 500,000km in Manila. Not once have I had an accident nor caused one. I apply the same principles here as I teach advanced drivers in the UK… and it works. To the majority of ppl posting here – if you allow sufficient time for your journey then you will get out of the bad habit of chasing the clock. Not chasing the clock allows the driver to look at their own actions, ask themselves questions to discipline themselves and not take the easy route of blaming others. I quite often see drivers being courteous… Read more »
Johnny Murphy

You can make a u-turn anywhere,anytime,and the pedestrians don’t even know how to cross the street.they either look in the wrong direction or not at all.brainless!