The Philippines’ traffic problems will never be solved. Here’s why…

The thing with the traffic mess in Metro Manila is that it is easy to pontificate about the ideal long-term solutions — “consistent enforcement of traffic rules”, “construction of more roads”, “modernisation of public transport infrastructure”, etc. Indeed, all of those are the obvious solutions; solutions that should have been implemented a long time ago — before the problem got to the monstrous scale we suffer today. But given that this is the present and the situation remains the same (i.e. none of the obvious solutions have been implemented), then those obvious solutions still remain obvious but beyond immediate reach.

This means that even if well-funded projects are set in motion to get all of these obvious solutions implemented, Metro Manilans will still have to suffer for years while waiting for these long-term projects to deliver results. And given the reality far from this ideal — that substandardly-funded snail-paced projects are on-going — it is likely that by the time these are completed, the problem will have already advanced far beyond the scope of the solutions these projects had originally sought to put in place.

metro_manila_traffic

Does this mean that Metro Manilans are doomed to generation after generation of a wretched life in Carmageddon?

Perhaps. Long-term solutions are simply anathema to a society where leadership changes every six years and where people lack an ability to think independently on the basis of a sound ethical grounding (i.e. be guided primarily by what is right rather than what a leader or showbiz idol says).

It is also difficult to sustain any confidence in the ability of Filipinos to apply the right approach to solving their problems. Indeed, it has long been pointed out that the Philippines is a result of lots of action underpinned by very little thinking. So a lack of action does not seem to be the issue. The issue lies in the quality of the thinking applied.

We see a lot of initiatives put in place to solve Metro Manila’s abominable traffic. But it is difficult to see the sense in any of them. And the results are, therefore, not surprising. All of them — “number coding”, U-turn slots, bus lanes, truck bans, etc. — quite simply do not work. Even building new roads, widening existing ones, and constructing fly-overs and elevated highways fail to relieve traffic congestion or change its spiralling trajectory to gridlock oblivion.

Whenever a new bright idea comes up or a new “traffic czar” is appointed, you just know in your gut that the result will ultimately be a big fat fail.

So is the traffic situation in the Philippines hopeless?

It seems so. Everyone — from the President himself down to the lowliest “traffic enforcer” — is at their wits’ ends. It is easy to imagine the aspired-for target state. Any idiot can imagine traffic Nirvana — because they see it every night on primetime TV on American shows. But charting a course to getting to it is a virtually intractable challenge in the Philippine setting. This is because the landscape a traffic solutioneer needs to navigate is fraught with pitfalls, roadblocks, and show-stoppers. Indeed, the biggest one of them is, as mentioned earlier, the quality of Filipino thinking. Its spawn is the hopelessly inept bureaucracy, the system of government in place, the sorts of politicians the electorate breeds, and the layer upon layer of accumulated idiocy piled upon the country’s sad situation over several decades of Filipinos’ pwede-na-yan (that’ll do) and bahala na (come what may) way of life.

In short, there is no solution to Metro Manila’s traffic mess — because the very natures of the essential solutions are not compatible with Filipino culture in its current form. Filipinos are a self-centred, narcissistic, inconsiderate, discourteous, and thievin’ lot. A system where traffic flows smoothly is one where individuals trust said system — and one another to sustain that system. But such systems are built upon behavioural pillars that Filipinos simply lack. For that matter, the inherent nature of the way Filipinos think makes them wholly incapable of grasping the design principles of such a system! You cannot build a system based on trust and mutual respect if you are a people who lack both virtues.

This reality about Filipinos and its implications on any hope of solving their traffic mess lends its validity to the simple but wise words of Albert Einstein:

You cannot solve a problem using the same thinking that created it.

Filipinos, in short, need to change the way they think first before they can aspire to transforming their decrepit metropolises into world-class centres of commerce and culture that hum along rather than lurch awkwardly through a typical day.

Apply primitive thinking and you get primitive solutions. A problem created by primitive thinking can only be undone with modern thinking. And that is ultimately the solution not just to the Philippines’ traffic woes but to the Filipino Condition overall.

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Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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37 Comments on "The Philippines’ traffic problems will never be solved. Here’s why…"

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Vincent
Member
Traffic management transferred to the Highway Patrol Group from the MMDA – I really don’t know how will this solve the problem when its root is that the roads are not anymore sufficient to carry the number of vehicles and pedestrians that passes it. From the way I see it, the solution is either add more roads or relocate residents and businesses. Fine, I hope the HPG will do a better job for fairness sake. However, I am really not confident with this. To me it is like appointing a new teacher to a classroom of 100 students, hoping that… Read more »
zaxx
Member

Only someone with common sense can solve Manila’s unending slow motion death march.

In the philippines, That’s like asking one to find a needle in a haystack.

34Hayden007Toro99.999
Guest
34Hayden007Toro99.999
“The solution is in the problem”…my good teacher in Arithmetic usually stated, when I was in the Elementary Grade; struggling to solve an Arithmetic problem. We elected people, who cannot solve the traffic problems. They do not see the traffic problems. They cannot comprehend why there are traffic problems. How can you solve these problems; if you cannot even understand the problems… So, the Traffic problems remain; and ordinary people , like you and me suffer. As the roads, in Metro Manila, become “virtual parking lots”… How can that mentally retarded Aquino and the incompetent Roxas and Tolentino, solve these… Read more »
Tom
Guest
Didn’t you hear? The INC caused all the traffic problems. The roads should be clear now. I’m sorry, just being sarcastic because how the Filipinos are so eager to accept the generosity of the INC and just as eager to blame the INC for the problems. The INC isn’t the Manalos, the INC is the members. The Manalos are members,some of which have an office. Executive Minister is held by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo. I’m here in the states, I have been to the Philippines several times since the 80’s. The traffic was so bad each time I was there.… Read more »
vagoneto rieles
Guest
That the solutions to the traffic problem, thus far, have never been ‘solutions’ at all, seems to be the ‘real problem’. Neither the ‘truck ban’, the ‘odd-even tags’, the ‘dedicated lanes’, nor the ‘HPG-enforcement’.. have been solutions; they were just palliatives applied to assuage the symptoms, and were never serious attempts to cure the problem. What’s worse is that the traffic mess, unsolved as it were, just grew into the frustratingly knotty tangle that it is today.The real solution.. the only cure to the long running traffic nightmare.. is ‘political will’. It is the 400# gorilla visibly sitting in the… Read more »
77Hayden007Toro999.99
Guest
77Hayden007Toro999.99

They are “Band Aid” Solutions, to degenerating Metro Manila Traffic problems…

They cannot formulate lasting solutions to the Metro Manila Traffic problems…

nagtatanong_lang
Guest

one thing missing on metro manila streets that would help the traffic situation..DISCIPLINE…i don’t think i have to expound more on this..everybody knows

Add
Guest
“Long-term solutions are simply anathema to a society where leadership changes every six years and where people lack an ability to think independently on the basis of a sound ethical grounding (i.e. be guided primarily by what is right rather than what a leader or showbiz idol says)” That means projecting, forecasting, what the problem would look like 20 to 30 years. Solutions to the problems always lag behind because they are trying to solve present problems. Infrastructures by the time they are finished always fall short because it only tried to solve a problem of yesterdays. To solve the… Read more »
ChinoF
Member

“Filipinos are a self-centred, narcissistic, inconsiderate, discourteous, and thievin’ lot. A system where traffic flows smoothly is one where individuals trust said system — and one another to sustain that system. But such systems are built upon behavioural pillars that Filipinos simply lack.”

When you ask some erring Filipinos why they commit crimes, like why they steal from someone or kill first, they might say, “Eh baka gawin sa akin, pangunahan ko na! (they might do it to me, so I’ll preempt them!)” Makes me wonder if Filipinos are naturally schizophrenic.

Taní
Guest
Very nice article. When you talked about the need for mutual “trust”and respect between people utilizing the streets, this trust must be drawn somewhere. If people are to trust his fellow motorists/pedestrians, they would all have to assume that everybody around him/her have had the necessary instructions and information about the road, it’s accessories, motor vehicles and most importantly, the rules and regulations that the law dictates. I don’t understand why it’s so ridiculously easy to get a driving license in the Philippines, given the aforementioned characteristic bad traits of the pinoy. Of course, everybody can choose to pay their… Read more »
d_forsaken
Guest

Why do I always forget that traffic in the Failippines is a “social and political affair”?

Traffic in the Failippines is like the so-called “Failipino democratic process”. Every time you think it’s going to get moving and take you somewhere, you hit another jam.

zaxx
Member
YOU are the answer to Manila’s traffic gridlock. Yes YOU my friend (look yourself closely in the mirror now). Yes it’s YOU YOU YOU! The best thing YOU can do to help is to GET OUT!!! YES, settle in the province, or become an OFW. With YOU out of the equation, that will be 1 less car on the road, 1 less commuter pressing into the already congested public transport system. Did you know that PHL was meant to be HELL on earth for YOU by design. It’s part of the overall scheme of things so that YOU WILL GET… Read more »
Biffa Bacon
Guest

Much easier said than done,for many reasons,but I agree 100%…theres just too many vehicles on the road….its like trying to run niagra falls thru a garden hose…..

zaxx
Member

Or like an elephant trying to mate with a hamster.

And who ever thought of setting up a nations’s capital city between a bottleneck strip of land locked between Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay?

Move the capital to the Subic and Clark area! Create a new Zaxxun state there like a mini Singapore. Press the reset button a do a Canberra.

Sick_Amore
Guest

And may I add, if you get out of Manila, depart also from the kind of behavior and thinking that contributed to the city’s wretched state otherwise you’ll also corrupt the place where you’re going.

zaxx
Member

@sick amore- good advise for those who find the exit door

And while you’re on the plane to a better land of greener pastures flowing with milk and honey, try to read the guidebook on how to keep yourself from getting deported / kicked out of the new society you’ll live in:

http://zaxxun.com/filipino-mind-revolution/

Shed off that corrupt and incompetent Pinoy mindset by taking in a daily dose of pure unadulterated common sense.

Sick_Amore
Guest

Great presentation, @zaxx. But what’s with “Zaxxun”?

zaxx
Member

@Sick_Amore, Thanks.

“Zaxxun”? It just stands for the peaceful united revolutionary movement (p13); upper case letters below:

RiZAl mind revolution for the X-termination of corruption and X-termination incompetence – the UNited movement

further explained on p.14.

Once the Almighty brings down the corruptors and replaces them with Zaxxuns (Zaxxun Creed adherents), PHL will begin its transformation into the next “Singapore”.

Aeta
Guest

Here’s another reason why the Philippine traffic problems will never be solved: the government is allowing these Chinoys and Koreans to mass produce privately-owned vehicles (automobiles and motorcycles).

Jim DiGriz
Guest
It’s not that hard to change things. The biggest problem is the unwillingness to implement existing rules. No unloading or stopping at any time means what the sign says. Yet traffic enforcers just watch while busses and jeepneys block the road. Lessen the busses on the road, many are not needed, there are simply too many. Take away bus stations which are located along major roads and intersections. Which fucking idiot ever allowed such a thing? Provincial Bus operators and their bus stations should be banned to the outskirts of Metro Manila from where they have easy access to the… Read more »
Biffa Bacon
Guest

RIGHT FUCKING ON !!! INSTILL SOME DISCIPLINE ! ALL YOU WIMPY ASS,LAZY,EVERYTHING’S HOPELESS,NEGATIVE,”OH I WISH IT WAS THIS WAY,OH ME,OH MY,OH GOD HELP US CUZ WE CANT FIGURE IT OUT FOR OURSELVES”THINKING PEOPLE NEED TO STEP ASIDE,YOU ARE YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY !! HAVE SOME COJONES,HAVE SOME BIG BALLS,STEP UP TO THE PLATE,AND TAKE CHARGE !!! DO THE RIGHT THING FOR YOURSELVES AND YOUR NATION !! WHAT PART OF THIS DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND???? DO SOMETHING THAT WILL INSTILL SOME REAL FILIPINO PRIDE,AND NOT THIS IGNORANT,PATHETIC,APATHETIC EXAMPLE THAT THE ENTIRE WORLD SCOFFS AT.

CHARLOTTE
Guest
THERE ARE WAYS TO AT LEAST GIVE A FRESH AIR ON THE TRAFFIC SITUATION IN THIS COUNTRY, FIRST: MAKE THE DAY OFF ROTATIONAL THE WHOLE WEEK , IT MEANS SOME COMPANIES WILL HAVE A DAY OFF , ON MONDAYS , TUESDAYS, WEDNESDAYS, THURS, SATS, AND SUNDAYS. IN THIS WAY WE WILL BE REDUCING THE TRAVELER IN A PARTICULAR DAY AND ALSO SCHOOLS WILL ADOPT SAME SYSTEM , EVEN ELEMENTARY AND HIGH SCHOOL , WE CAN EVEN SOLVE THE SHORTAGES OF CLASSROOMS I BELIEVE IN THIS WAY . ELEMENTARY WILL ATTEND SCHOOLS IN THE MORNING AND HIGH SCHOOL WILL ATTEND SCHOOLS… Read more »
Dodjie Fernandez
Guest

Given your title, I didn’t expect you to suggest even just one measure to help ease the traffic mess. Then at the end you mentioned “modern thinking” as ultimately the solution. I hope you can further elaborate on what you mean by “modern thinking”.

Presidente Emilio
Guest

It still baffles me that our predecessors didn’t think of building more railway systems. It could’ve minimized traffic problems since there’ll be less public transports on the road.

marius
Guest

Third-world countries almost never manage to install railways. There’s too much money involved. A Filipino who sees a billion pesos earmarked for a railway will see it as his duty to steal at least half of it.

zaxx
Member

Gagawa rin lang ng LRT at MRT system – yung pinakamakitid na coaches pa ang pinili. As in zero-foresight!

In every major city I’ve been across Asia they use long wide-bodied trains for maximum carrying capacity.

Tsk tsk tsk ! Konting common sense lang po sana next time ha

Sick_Amore
Guest

These leaders lack the capacity to care. Truth is one need not be intelligent to have common sense, one only need to care and to mind others other than oneself.

Presidente Emilio
Guest

True, true.

zaxx
Member

Or maybe they did have foresight – but foresight on how to make a killing on kickbacks. Imagine 2/3 narrower trains would mean 1/3 in kickbacks for the same price tag as standard wide-bodied ones.

Cruel heartless totally pathetic decision making like this is hard to undo. How can anyone widen the MRT – LRT trains/tracks now?

Biffa Bacon
Guest

Dude you are right on !! The apathy stops NOW !!

vagoneto rieles
Guest
The MRTs/LRTs were conceived early in the 1980s, with construction starting in 1986. This could easily be sourced and verified. The present administration could not be faulted in matters of design and construction. The pressing concern now, however, is in management, ‘maintenance, and in the facility’s expansion to address the present need. While it was designed to service 300 to 400 thousands passengers daily, it is now pushed to take 500 to 600 thousands. We can’t say for sure what the FVR, JME(Erap), and GMA administrations did to anticipate the problem; but certainly, it is incumbent upon the present dispensation… Read more »
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akosime
Guest

REMOVE all buses in highways ! make a CIRCULAR routeS like in QC CIRCLE, NO TO INTERSECTION ! CHARGE ROAD TAX ( it will only affect the rich and the taxes SHOULD go to funding PUBLIC hospitals for the poor ) and also BUILT MORE TRAINS CONNECTING MANILA TO PROVINCES

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