Let them eat cake: How much wretchedness can the Metro Manila commuter take until one says ‘enough’?

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One good thing about being assigned in the graveyard shift in Metro Manila: The relative ease of commuting to work compared to the hapless regular shift employee facing the daily grind of both traffic in the major roads and the overworked and under-equipped MRT-3 train system traversing the EDSA thoroughfare that starts from the North Station in Quezon City and ends in Taft Avenue in Pasay way down south.

Most Metro Manila commuters would avoid using the MRT like the plague these days if they could help it; even at night or even weekends or holidays where you expect the number of passengers to be comfortably scarce, the shortage of operational trains make it a Sisyphus-like endeavor to hope for that type of scenario. Only 8 operational trains to cater the estimated load of 600,000 passengers on a daily basis.

Commuters endure a long queue on the street...
Commuters endure a long queue on the street…

Add to that dismal statistics the non-operational escalators, elevators and the majority of out of service rest rooms and you get the perfect picture of the kind of drab service most people using it are paying for. That young people (who are mostly out of shape) are already out of breath by the time they reach the top floors means the elderly are in for a more punishing ordeal. One elderly woman I saw huffing and puffing in the Shaw Station stairwell looked so flushed at the middle of the flight of stairs I feared she would suffer from a heart attack.

...only to end up having to queue some more just to get to the top of several flights of stairs!
…only to end up having to queue some more just to get to the top of several flights of stairs!

No surprise then, that the commuting working class arrive at work already exhausted. And their day had not even begun yet! And, on top of that, also too exhausted to do anything meaningful with the people back at home because most of their energy is sapped from work and the time spent being a prisoner inside a vehicle on the commute back. We get all this while the Commander-in-Chief and his lackey for the next election, pontificates about congestion all over Manila being a sign of “good economic progress”.

I wonder if the two of them can still sing that same tune if they were subjected to the daily hell of commuting with no possible option except to wake up at the unholy hours of dawn to make sure you’re not late because (1) traffic via mode of transports like bus/fx/jeepneys are horrible and require a head-start of at least two hours relative to your location and (2) the human traffic/queue in the MRT-Edsa station is even more horrible; compounded with the possibility of endless delays due to sudden train malfunctions and/or passenger overload in the waiting platforms. You need to have another spare hour for those unforeseen “shit happens” situations that are way beyond your control.

The abysmal condition of the Metro Manila traffic had been commented on repeatedly by various writers. The recent article by GRP webmaster benign0 effectively eviscerated the system and the jokers in charge that oversees the maintenance of such services and smooth running of said system. I would like to add, if I may, another observation about an equally abhorrent trait among the general population—and the commuters themselves, like myself: Apathy. Or resignation. Whatever one might want to call it.

Maybe it’s naivete but one would think that by the number of smartphones and tablets out during the whole ordeal of waiting and travelling, you’ll get to see a dent of observations/complaints/reports/photos of the whole situation directed to the establishment or any government agency or media entity to at least make a sound or signal that things are wrong. Maybe if we get the number of tweets and other social media posts complaining about services and leadership equal to the number of selfies and online CoC players daily we can scratch a dent in the impenetrable armor of the beast that is our equally apathetic administration. I have already made a separate observation about this. There’s no quick way to fix things, but maybe breaking out of the apathetic stupor we seem to be stuck on might be a good start.

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18 Comments on “Let them eat cake: How much wretchedness can the Metro Manila commuter take until one says ‘enough’?”

  1. The ever-recurring law of necessity soon teaches a Failipino to do what he/she does not like, so as to avert evils which he/she would dislike still more…This foresight, well or ill used, is the source of all the wisdom or the wretchedness of the Failippines.

    1. Do you mean for example… taking a low paying job to make ends meat, versus resorting to stealing? I think it is true everywhere. Well, the difference in Philippines versus the west is that there bad behavior can be easily rationalized away.

  2. Hindi ba dapat kasabay ng paglago ng commercial at industrial business ay paglago din ng affordable house development malapit sa lugar kung saan karaniwang nagtatrabaho ang mga tao? This can lessen the number of travelling workforce. In other countries, if they live far from their workplace, they consider relocating. In the provinces, near industrial parks are dormitories and houses for rent. If you can walk or bike to your work, how much time can be saved compare to waiting in queue in MRT/LRT before getting a ride or riding PUV in traffic coming from a far place? A good city planning can make this work. The safest cities in the world have everything they needed close to their home (hospitals, schools, churches, markets, small businesses, roads designed for specific number and different kind of public transpo, parks, police/rescue centers, etc) if not readily available for them through modern means (via online services).

  3. for metro manila, I think the best project that the government can create is teleportation, wala ng mag-aagawan sa kalsada at sa tren. TP na lahat.

  4. You would think this would be a trending topic everyday, but no, it is okay for them that they look like a herd being led to a slaughter twice daily. So, okay, let them enjoy their suffering for it seems they like to suffer. Problem is that kind of apathy is what helps this country to be led by the most incompetent. In other countries, the heads of PNoy, Roxas, and Abaya would have rolled a long time ago in such a situation. But, here no, they like to be fucked from behind. So fine, let these fucked stupid people suffer — manigas sila, suma total, bobo naman sila.

    1. How insensitive for car owners (I’m just presuming that you don’t ride public transport) like yourself Mr. Add to call these commuting public “bobo”! Who knows many student scholars, professional teachers, artists, technical people are there in the crowd?! Wla na nga car, stupid pa!

      1. i think you missed what Add meant…it’s the apathy of these commuters to their current situation that they deserve this wretchedness…so i agree with him, the commuting public are bobo for allowing this to happen to them

        1. What made you say so? Do you own a car or do you ride public transport? It’s easier to pass the blame to the silent crowd than to stand up and be counted as part of the whole! No expletive necessary!

    2. Amen to what you said. People seem to be brain dead already. In another country people would riot and shit would go up in flames. Here they keep their heads comfortably inside their own asses.

  5. “Congestion in Metro Manila is a sign of economic progress”…only an insane person and a mentally retarded person will subscribe to that idiotic thinking.

    The Aquino administration simply did not take into consideration, that Filipinos are multiplying like Rabbits. And, the maintenance crew of the MMRT are political appointees, and do not know anything, about maintaining the system.

    So, throw the incompetent Rascals out in the next election. Put them in Garbage, where they truly belong…

  6. It never ceases to perplex me how the daily suffering of the majority of Pinoys, specifically the daily Manila commuters in this case, has turned to resignation and indifference.. and that, next year, Filipinos will be willing to accept the status quo (or worse) under the NEXT administration. People should be asking themselves – are they better off today than they were in 2010? Most people would say NO.. and yet there is no public clamor for radical change. I don’t understand it.. is it the submissive, compliant, unassertive and passive nature of the Filipino? Where is the civil disobedience? Where are the anti-government demonstrations? What will it take to change this apathy and inaction on the part of the masses?

    1. I often wondered about that myself. Come to recognize later on, it’s not a matter of submissiveness but a matter of complete surrender; having witnessed too many futile initiatives for change that were eventually thwarted by a politician or the inefficiency of the system. It does get exceptionally exhausting. On the other hand, some are just buying time, envisioning that they’d be leaving the country one day anyway for somewhere brighter and better. And then there are some who just don’t know any better…really.

      “What will it take to change this apathy and inaction on the part of the masses?” A strong symbolic REGICIDE of the political system……..or…….China taking over 😉

  7. Now that Sec Abaya seem to humble himself and apologized, maybe a #progressreport is in order about preventative measures for traffic as well as the MRT/LRT operation. It will ease the commuting public’s tension if they know when their daily sacrifices going to end and what those sacrifices are for. Why not make use of their social media and Inquirer Libre for that? If DOTC keep the people well-informed in a way they are not leaving them hanging, guessing and waiting for nothing.

    For MRT/LRT
    when will the new coaches be operational, what’s to expect once it’s operational
    while at it
    what’s being done to dysfunctional trains
    while at it
    what’s being done to fixed the slow train service
    while at it
    what’s being done to not functioning escalators
    while at it
    what’s the future plan to have a more comfortable ride for the commuting public

    and it’s especially important to add time frame so the public themselves will come up with their own feasible solutions for that certain period of time where the MRT/LRT is not that dependable

    And since at the moment falling in a long queue is inevitable, if there’s additional aide to sell ticket to the people in long queue or additional ticketing machine, boarding the train will be swift. Ticket at hand, people will just go directly to the turnstile and ride the train once it arrived.

    1. “We apologize for the inconvenience caused by…” should be in order, too, in every train station every time a train’s arrival and departure got delayed.

  8. Car or no car, everyone is doomed in the hellish quagmire that is Metro Manila. Having lived in Singapore for a couple of years now, has made me “soft”. I tried riding the MRT one time. holy f*ck! ‘di kinaya ng powers ko. So now, I’m migrating to Sydney. As the great Dr. Rajesh Koothrappali once said “LATER, LOSERS!” hahaha!

  9. on a lighter note, take manila traffic and squatter population and imagine a zombie outbreak [(walking dead type/ not 28 days later type (no chance na pag 28 days later type)]…strategy?chance of survival?

    mine would be get to manila bay (long shot) and commandeer a boat then get going to corregidor. corregidor is an island fortress. farm and protect that ish.

    you have to entertain yourself while stuck in traffic.

  10. For example, if we believe that reason is the strongest motivator of human thought and behavior, or if we believe that morality starts and ends with care and fairness, then we are deluding ourselves about how the social world actually works and we re probably mistakenly and unfairly attributing nefarious impulses to those with whom we disagree. Completely agree with you.

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