A new normal: Traffic snarled by floods caused by a bit of rain in Metro Manila

Back in the old days, being caught in traffic used to be a good excuse to be late for work or, for that matter, any appointment or date. Then heavy traffic became more the rule than the exception. So then it was the government’s turn to make excuses for snail-paced traffic. One of these excuses was around exceptionally hard continuous rain over a couple of days after which, as a result, flooding occurred which then snarled traffic in such instances. But then it came to a point where even a short downpour could cause floods big enough and persistent enough to paralyse traffic for hours. So the excuse tree grew ever deeper and wider roots, roping in the city’s decrepit storm drain system as well into its growing network of so-called “root causes”.

When will it end?

Even at 1:30 in the morning, more than 5 hours after the downpour, traffic was at a standstill on EDSA (Photo source: @OrangeMagTV on Twitter)

Even at 1:30 in the morning, more than 5 hours after the downpour, traffic was at a standstill on EDSA.
(Photo source: @OrangeMagTV on Twitter)

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The confronting reality facing millions of hapless Filipinos living in the Philippines’ growing megalopolises is that gridlock traffic caused by a failure of basic thinking is here to stay to torment them over the foreseeable future.

Just last night, one such catastrophic urban paralysis struck again — and just a few days after Iglesia Ni Cristo Carmageddon wrought havoc to Metro Manila’s long weekend plans. This recent one struck on a weekday — which meant that many of its victims had valuable sleeping and rest times stolen from them which likely would impact their productivity at work the following day.

CNN Philippines reports that the cause of the flooding — “a heavy downpour, which lasted for just over an hour” — was no more than a routine weather disturbance that is normal in a tropical country like the Philippines…

There was no storm. There was only a southwest monsoon affecting Palawan and the western sections of the Visayas and Mindanao, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). The downpour over Metro Manila and adjacent provinces was caused by a thunderstorm.

This does not bode well for the future of Metro Manila. If a city the size of Manila is at the mercy of routine weather disturbances that are natural and inherent to its geographical location, its residents and their government need to seriously re-think their portfolio of excuses.

In short, revisiting the question posed earlier, it’s not gonna end soon — specially now that the “Ber” months have begun and Filipinos are now counting down to Christmas in what is a world-renowned tradition of celerating the Holiday Season all through those four last months of the year with names ending in “ber”. Unfortunately, the Ber months have become synonymous with misery for Metro Manila’s hapless commuters thanks to the frenzy of consumption and movement associated with the very normal social activities of catching up with family and friends.

Despite the claim of current President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III (parroted ad nauseum by his sidekick Mar Roxas) that gridlocked traffic is a sign of a booming economy, the fact is, it is a people’s ability to efficiently move themselves — and their goods — from one place to another that is the foundation of a robust and resilient economy. An economy that stares into the abyss of catastrophic paralysis everytime the skies darken and rumble can only go so far.

That’s bad news considering that the Philippines needs to grow its economy by leaps and bounds just to stay apace with the galloping rate at which its population grows. It is difficult to make headway when the clip at which Filipinos add desperate and needy people to the steaming stew that is Philippine society eats away at every percentage point of GDP growth every year.

(Source: Vincent Marius on Facebook)

(Source: Vincent Marius on Facebook)

Solutions that fail to address root causes and, instead, add layer upon layer of complexity to the rickety structure of a house of cards are difficult to undo. We see this today in Manila’s traffic situation where even the question of which agency — the Traffic Enforcers of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) or the Philippine Police’s Highway Patrol Group — is better qualified to enforce traffic rules becomes a hopelessly convoluted debate around jurisdiction and politics. The vast fleet of privately-operated public utility jeepneys and buses that compete with one another for paying passengers rather than complement one another as elements in a coherent public transport system is another layer of band-aid that cannot be peeled without tearing out chunks of flesh. No vote-hungry politician will go down that path either.

And then there’s the Filipino driver — a hopelessly miseducated lot whose collective idiocy all but pulls the whole society ever deeper into the traffic quicksand that now engulfs the Philippines’ premiere metropolis. The ako muna (“me first”) mentality that is central to the driving philosophy of the Filipino is so deeply-ingrained that it will require nothing short of genocide to correct.

What then given the intractable nature of the Philippines’ traffic problem? Who knows? There seems to be no point in hoping considering that the entire political system is rigged to ensure that status quos persist and initiatives to reform things are thwarted even before these get to the drawing board.

25 Replies to “A new normal: Traffic snarled by floods caused by a bit of rain in Metro Manila”

  1. This traffic problems are not only in the Philippines but in all metropolitan cities of the world..and if you going to research what other did or doing to eliminate or eased the traffic problem situation . Their politician or planners will include this as priority in their solutions. my observation in Los Angeles , San Francisco ,and New York City is no different from the Philippines Manila and suburbs..The difference is the country city planners creat plans and meaningful solution and they just don’t talk and talk about it….they take action and just do it….example , first they try to give insentives to the new up coming factories and job creating business to relocate or locate they’re office and factories away from the city mostly to a non developed areas, when that happened the the roads to that area was developed, next comes the housings and subdivision developer followed by the commercial industry , and the population migrate to that area because it is cheaper to live on new development away from the city….and this was done not like the Philippines in a slow non moving phase..did is done like lightning fast…the the people commute and in time they relocate and move…even then the development cannot keep up with the people for I could observe the population grew faster than the development…..and America has the Money and funds to do it,,,,,,,whyyyyy because government system are not corrupt no politician that hold the permit with out bribery ..it is America…..

    Besides everything in the Philippines are slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww…nothing is accomplished in time and the worst it is intentional hold in a slow face because they wanted bribe money to approved the permit for development…….that folks are known to everybody,,,, then why you still complain about it……change the habits of your leaders and maybe Philippines will change…

    1. The problem with the National Politicians are that they are too greedy when it comes to industries. They want everything within NCR. No wonder other parts of the country are left out. They want all the money of the big industries within their reach.

    2. ‘Change the habits…’? Please, the leopard can not change its stripes. The leopard MUST eradicated ! Hunted down and killed !!!! The babies of the Leopard must be killed as well. It may sound heartless, and MAYBE it is, but what needs to be done at this point? Well, it can not be pretty.It can not be a half-measure (it will avail nothing !) and the longer it takes to accomplish ,the worse off the people lives will get. When driving to work a scant 20 miles takes 5 hours per day, it is time for a big change. A BIG BIG BIG CHANGE !!!

  2. Heavy Traffic along EDSA is a sign of good economy? A stupid statement coming from a mentally retarded person.

    If you have heavy traffic caused by slight downpour…your economy is good?

    Flood and drainage system are not working. This is the cause of the flood.

    The streets of Metro Manila are full of cars ; that should had been melted as junk, many years ago. The Philippines is the destination of junkyard cars, that are inefficient and gas guzzlers.

    When will the Flood Control system be built on Metro Manila. Metro Manila is a Delta; and below sea level. So, it needs a good Flood
    Control System.

  3. Life in the Failippines is stressful. Everybody is running around like crazy, stuck in monstrous traffic jams in every single corner trying to make meetings, trying to make ends meet, trying to meet deadlines, trying to get kids to and from activities. There aren’t enough hours in the day for all this business.

    If you are the kind of Failipino who is waiting for the ‘right’ thing to happen, you might wait for a long time until you’re dead and gone. It’s like waiting for all the traffic lights to be green for a thousand miles before starting the trip.

    1. @d_forsaken. Traffic in the Philippines is like the relationships Filipinos have with one another: chaotic and “stressful.”

      “If you are the kind of Failipino who is waiting for the ‘right’ thing to happen [the Filipinos’ relationships with one another to improve], you might wait for a long time until you’re dead and gone.”

  4. I didn’t understood how a brief downpour caused a night gridlock throughout Metro Manila. All residents of NCR have commuted or drove though the all types of rain since, well, there were roads. Thunderstorms have happened so many times but have never caused such systemic congestion. I don’t think the traffic was caused just by the rain.

  5. One problem is, the infrastructure in Metro Manila is mostly built up so unless you build OVER – like the skyway – or UNDER (very unlikely) relief will not come any time soon.

    The overpopulation problem isn’t going to get solved anytime soon – in fact, the number’s probably just going to grow and grow – the squatters situation isn’t going to get solved anytime soon – see the overpopulation comment – and unless you tear down built-up areas in the Metro, the traffic situation will not get solved soon. What you’re looking at is a situation that is basically untenable and unsolvable.

    Good luck with your future!

    1. @Not Tony, the problem in the Philippines is not building more and wider roads, or building “OVER” existing roads; but, having less privately-owned motor vehicles and commercial buses, taxis, jeepneys, and tricycles on these roads.

      The MMDA officials know having less commercial and private motor vehicles on the roadways will greatly ease the traffic congestion and air pollution; but,they won’t implement the change because they will lose the revenues (and bribes) from these commercial vehicle franchises and Korean/Chinese automobile/motorcycle manufacturers.

  6. ‘Nothing short of genocide….’, is exactly what is going to happen. Either nature will take its course and swallow the archipelago, or a war will erupt and millions will perish. A situation like this is a cauldron on the boil with the lid secured tightly. When it blows, get out of the way….its gonna be ugly.

    1. UK RAY,

      “Either nature will take its course and swallow the archipelago.”

      It’s happening now, especially when Phil/Gov and Chinese-Filipino businesses transformed low-lying agricultural/aquacultural farmland–with natural water drainages and runoffs–into “concrete jungles”-complete with shopping malls, housing subdivisions, condominiums, resorts and hotels, and other commercial properties–and caused mass flooding even during light rainfall.

      “War will erupt and millions will perish.”

      It’s called “War of Attrition.” Phil/Gov and Chinese-Filipino businesses are gradually driving the people out of the country as OFWs, expats to other countries, and deeper into poverty by destroying locally-run agricultural, manufacturer, and export industries.

      The fiasco over the “Disputed Territories” in South China Sea by the Chinese is only for show. The real takevoer is happening in the political, economic, and social infrastructures within the archipelago.


      1. @ Aeta, yes, the country is dying…it is sad to see , BUT U must think what is best? I’d have to say, get out NOW, if you can. However you can, the shit is about to hit the fan.

  7. It’s useless to make suggestions for long-term solutions until the corrupt leaders are thrown out and got replaced with the real deal. Present admin will only go for thinking or planning daw of a possible solution or band aid solution. In fact, kung nag-iisip o nagre-research man lang sana ‘tong mga ‘to, simula pa lang ng term ni PNoy na-aapply na ang solusyon. At kahit patapos na ang term n’ya, kung gusto talaga nila to ease the traffic problems, makikita nila obvious solutions.

    Since wala pa pisofare direct flight from Manila and EDSA to other cities in NCR, for those who can’t live with traffic and flood, work from home or get out of Metro Manila. Run your business or find work someplace else. You’ll be faced with traffic and flood as long as PNoy and his allies govern. Better yet, acquire or build your own flying bicycle or car!

  8. One senator was advocating a twin capital solution. I agree in principle.

    We went driving to Subic lately and saw vast tracts of uninhabited land stretching for miles. That can be 1 capital. The other capital I think should be in Batangas – again vast tracts of empty land there.

    Manila should be toned down to serve only as a conduit, rather than a destination. In fact there should be no reason to pass through this narrow strip of land once twin cities are in place.

    Then we can start afresh building good drainage, good standard sized trains, unexposed electrical grid, etc. and start looking like well planned Singapore.

    -Common Sense for Pinoys party-
    The incorruptibles, The competent

    1. They want everything to be in Manila because it is the admin center all the more reason why the city should be organized and the business flow smoothly. The irony of things is that all the country’s leader congregate and have access in everything they need there yet everything around them are nothing but evidence of dysfunction.

      1. Sick_Amore,

        “The irony of things is that all the country’s leader congregate and have access in everything they need there yet everything around them are nothing but evidence of dysfunction.”

        ‘The Philippines is corrupt because the people are corrupt; the people are corrupt because the culture is corrupt.’


    2. Zaxx,

      “One senator was advocating a twin capital solution. I agree in principle.”

      That just mean two power house in different locations: two separate cages to house all the apes who will fight,and try to destroy each other, for personal gains.

  9. Sick_Amore,

    “It’s useless to make suggestions for long-term solutions until the corrupt leaders are thrown out and got replaced with the real deal.”

    The question remains: who are the “corrupt leaders” (including their administration) and who is not, when they all wash their hands and feet (their conscience) before going to bed?


    1. There are still incorruptible and competent ones. Incompetence and corruption are just noisier since it’s reeking but it doesn’t mean we don’t have leaders who continue to work with integrity and do real public service. The problem is most Filipinos repel from them (since people mirror who they support or follow) they don’t get heard much and got elected anymore. I’ll give you one who’s still alive although he’s no longer in the government. He turned Subic into an outstanding city during his charge. Tourism is well during his term as DOT secretary. His name is Richard “Dick” Gordon. See how effective PRC operate because of his leadership and how advance PRC now. See also how dedicated the people, mostly volunteers, who work under him to serve the people. Also, his pork barrel as a Senator back then went to PRC. He’s also vocal in criticizing the lack of malasakit and the incompetence of the present admin. He also made suggestions to build and spread economic zones. Someone like him is the real deal. Thing is, typical Pinoys repel from someone like him.

    1. @Jay,

      That is all people can do in the Philippines: wish for something that will never come.

      It’s the land of fairy tale delusions.


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