Filipinos have no right to complain about fuel prices because they have no right to drive

Why did the Philippines grow a car culture to begin with? Filipinos can neither make cars nor fuel them using their own domestic resources. They neither have the roads on which to drive them comfortably nor the discipline and precision of design to keep traffic flowing smoothly. Indeed, what the supposed “car culture” Filipinos take pride in actually achieved was to reveal to the world the true nature of Filipino character.

One can learn a lot about the Philippines from the perspective of motoring. This is a culture — and industry — that Filipinos acquired from colonisers and is an industry bankrolled by foreign capital. It drains Filipinos of their savings and disincentivises investment in modern public mass transportation. Despite how pervasive motoring is in the Philippines, however, it is not as deeply-ingrained in the fabric of Filipino life as everyone thinks it is.

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For a motoring culture to be truly ingrained in a society, said society needs to know how to make motor vehicles to begin with. No such industry of consequence emerged in the Philippines. This is because the Philippines lacks a strong tradition of engineering and technological achievement. To run a world-class automotive industry, a society needs to possess a strong appreciation for precision. Unfortunately, precision is not a Filipino thing. Filipinos plan for the future in an imprecise manner, citing a point in time as a vague mamaya-maya. They refer to something that needs to be produced as yung ano, and where to deliver the product as doon lang sa tabi-tabi.

Indeed, the very language Filipinos speak is imprecise. Every Tagalog sentence is hopelessly subject to such a wide range of interpretation as to render it useless for managing modern enterprises or mounting large complex undertakings. Take the instructional sentence Paki ano yung ano dyan sa tabi-tabi mamaya-maya. This could mean anything from “Could you please clean the bathroom downstairs near the exit this afternoon” to “Please finish this report and send it to Juan up on 20th floor tonight”.

It is also difficult to cite specifics when using Tagalog. Whereas the English language has several words for a tool used to pound something — a hammer, mallet, gavel, sledgehammer, etc. Tagalog only offers martilyo. Thus it is no wonder Filipinos have no ethic of using the right tool for the right job — it is because they lack a precise regard for tools. The fact that Filipinos are happy with their language and defend it like rabid fundamentalists is a testament to this bizarre embrace of the nebulous and imprecise.

This ethic of imprecision is behind why no modern technology-dependent infrastructure ever runs smoothly in the Philippines. Trains don’t run on time. In fact, no trains run to a timetable to begin with. This is because Filipinos cannot be bothered to run things to a schedule thanks to their comfyness with notions of mamaya-maya as bases for their timekeeping. For that matter, trains frequently break down because scheduled maintenance is just not a Filipino thing. This is, after all, a society with no notion of scheduling. In fact, there is no Tagalog word for schedule. Thus no trains and no buses run on time. Because “on time” finds no reference in Philippine society. There is only Filipino Time and it is based on the unit of time Filipinos refer to as mamaya-maya.

What does this have to do with driving? Well, everything.

For traffic to run smoothly, you need precise road rules and roads and signage designed to be precisely consistent with these rules. The rule “right lane must turn right” only means something when there is a lane marked with an arrow pointing right on a road to guide motorists accordingly. “No Parking” or the “P” encircled in red with with a red slash across it should always mean no parking. There is no “strictly no parking”. Precise words need no further qualification. When there is no consistency across rules, guidance in following these rules, and the means to enforce them, there can be no order on Philippine roads. That fact is glaringly evident. The root causes, perhaps, not as.

Because Filipinos possess nothing in their cultural tradition to appreciate the profound disciplines needed to run cars and make them, it will be very hard to change the way Filipinos use and share their roads anytime soon. Filipinos are like kids living in their parents’ homes. They consume but have no understanding nor appreciation of how what they consume comes about.

Next time a Filipino complains about rising fuel prices, ask her this: Why are you so dependent on a car? The answer to that will, of course be “Because public transport is inefficient.” And from there, the conversation becomes even more interesting.

15 Replies to “Filipinos have no right to complain about fuel prices because they have no right to drive”

  1. It really seems like Filipinos want a car at any cost even when they are not in the position to have one. I live in Italy and I’ve been married to a Filipina for about 15 years now and, every now and then I have to deal with newly arrived Filipinos, who don’t even have their residence permit in the country, to register their car in my name or to be their garantor to pay the installments. Having a car is the very first thing they think about as soon as they set foot in Italy and it seems to be more urgent for them than finding a proper job or getting their residence permit in order.

    1. You can choose to think of it that way or you can simply decline if you don’t approve of it.

      Wanting a car for its practical use, if one can afford it, is not not unique among Filipinos but rings true also with Italians, Australians…. What is seem as a need for any validation is just pure baloney.

      Having a car allows anyone to move around easier and faster. For practical reasons, it can get you to various destinations and do your supposed business with ease. And when you have to bring or carry things with you as you move around it’s more convenient.

  2. ‘Why did the Philippines grow a car culture to begin with? Filipinos can neither make cars nor fuel them using their own domestic resources. They neither have the roads on which to drive them comfortably nor the discipline and precision of design to keep traffic flowing smoothly. ‘


    My thoughts exactly.

    Let’s not forget the fact that cars are a very, very expensive means of getting around. The country simply does not have the economic foundation for wasting money on such gadgets. When you consider the Manila traffic – which moves at an average speed not much higher than walking pace – Filipinos would be far better off getting around on their own two feet, or possibly by carabao.

    Of course, it would help if the government would either provide a public-transport system, or allow private companies to do so. However, that goal is not consistent with their main goal of stealing as much public money as possible while stifling private enterprise, so Filipinos are stuck (as usual) with the worst possible solution.

    ‘Take the instructional sentence Paki ano yung ano dyan sa tabi-tabi mamaya-maya. This could mean anything from “Could you please clean the bathroom downstairs near the exit this afternoon” to “Please finish this report and send it to Juan up on 20th floor tonight”.’

    Wow. I’m so pleased to finally have confirmation that it’s not just me being an idiot. I’m struggling with the fact that Tagalog is a highly idiomatic language, with many words not having any precise meaning outside of the context of the sentence.

    1. A car is a penis extender. A relatively fortified one. And with this, Filipinos can show off how big their perceived d*cks are, and ram them down anyone who dares cross them.

    2. Tagalog mirrors a society whose character is incompatible with the intellectual means to prosper in the modern world. It is also a dead-end means to achieving that prosperity. Another one of those baffling socio-cultural prisons Filipinos have made themselves comfy within.

    3. CAR is a show of success … the bigger the car the bigger the success …
      *** I do not drive in the Philippines I live close to IT Park. I just walk to my place of work. If ever I go to Makati I take Uber Grab or Ankas. Or, commute public transportation to be with brown Filipinos whom I love dearly so I can feel their pulse ***

      CAR is like going to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Going-to-America is pilgrimage to Filipinos and show of success after they have owned a CAR. ***If a Filipino has not gone to the U.S. he has not made it yet because for my government to grant them a U.S. Tourist Visa they have to establish and prove to our consular officers that they have money in the country to return home to instead of working as caregivers under-the-table ***

      Here are whys I do not drive:
      1. Parking is horrible …
      2. I would be lucky to find parking …
      3. Parking structures in the Philippines is rare as tarsier and dwarf buffaloes
      4. Traffic is good as state-sponsored torture

  3. There can be no automotive industry in the Philippines. It is because Filipinos are technically incompetent to have one. We are 200 years behind in Science and Technology, compared to any industrialized country.

    There is no steel industry, which is the basic for industrialization. Our brains or technical people have migrated to foreign countries for better employments and better lives.

    We have traffic rules, but , it seems most of us don’t follow them. So, every motorist is stuck in the traffic, cursing everybody and everyone. The traffic police is nowhere in sight !

  4. Filipinos complain about fuel prices because it ramp up the public transportation fares which majority of the Filipino people commute with on top of legislated demand that POOR UN-BATHED STINKY BUS AND JEEPNEY DRIVERS must give senior and student discounts WHICH THESE POOR DRIVERS ARE NEVER RE-IMBURSED or GIVEN FUEL DISCOUNT !!!

    I just love the brains of Filipinos. Maybe because of brain drain and brain-eating amoeba. Or, maybe because they watch too much dose of Tagalog Filipino Channel lovingly called by Filipinos as TFC which I call ‘toopid Filipino Channel because it helps lower their I.Q.

    This channel promotes affidavits as evidences. Dowdy artless dancing shows. Repeat of same old songs. Canned laughters. Canned applause. Promotion of white-is-beautiful. TFC is a racist channel that denigrate the brown-skin Filipinos.

    1. Lou Holtz quote does not apply to Filpinos … because ‘toopid Filipino Channel lovingly called by Filipinos by its acronym TFC hang out to dry their problem in their bo-ho-ho mini series and Filipinos love watching them. They emulate them. They tell their problems. And the 80% listen to them and emulate the 20% ….


  5. FILIPINOS HAS CHEAP FUEL. Filipinos could have been SELF-SUFFICIENT in fuel but Senators & Representatives elected by Filipinos would rather protect the WORLD’s environment than feed scrawny hungry skinny Filipinos.

    DIE FILIPINOS !!! DIE !!! You have oil in your backyard but cannot explore and harness it.


  6. Filipinos have “pampagana” oil like Tanduay that could be used as “pampagana ng sasakyan”.
    Seriously, I think the Philippines badly needs less polluting forms of transport such as trains. Driving from Bulacan to Manila I could see the city wrapped in a thick cloud of smog from a distance.
    Filipinos also need less “sakay” and more walking. From my wife’s barangay to the palengke the distance is less than 500 meters and I was the only one walking. Everyvody else was either using their cars or motorbikes or waiting for a trycicle.
    Indeed the Philippines needs less cars, much less “usok” would immensely benefit the country and more walking or biking would enhance the kalusugan.

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