The Unofficial List of All Things Wrong With Metro Manila Traffic

I love to drive, but I hate our streets. I drive an average of 45 kilometers a day, and consume 14 liters of gas a week. This list summarizes everything that pisses me off about being a driver in Metro Manila. Even when good men try to follow the rules, the following just convince me otherwise.

Heavy traffic isn’t unique to the Philippines of course. This is just a list of what makes traffic so “special” here.


Welcome to Manila

In my universe, I would outlaw traffic (the word is synonymous to heavy traffic here in the Philippines) and send a millions spam e-mails to any and all traffic violators. But seriously now, confiscate and burn their licenses then send them to the driving school for dummies.Here are the favorite offenses of the average Filipino driver, who is characteristically walang hiya (shameless), selfish and rude. Feel free to add to the list by commenting.

Note to foreign readers: Just to clarify the directions in this post, note that the Philippines is left hand drive, right hand traffic.

And now the list, in some weird order:

“How not to be a driver”

1. U-Turn Anywhere

Passed your destination by a few meters? Missed a street? Pull aside a bit, signal to the left, wait for an opening then turn to the next lane. U-turning can actually be forgivable, unless the inconsiderate fool does so in a two-lane street. Or worse, a bridge. While people generally tolerate this, it can’t be denied that this slows traffic down. It is unnecessary, a desperation manuever and something that can be avoided. But heck, it’s fun to watch sometimes. And there are several variations of the “U-Turn Anywhere”:

1a. Park and go: Filipinos love “pa-simple”. I don’t know how to translate this expression into english with the entire thought intact but I liken it to turning things to your advantage in a very shameful way after being disadvantaged. So let’s say you missed your destination and you want to u-turn but the roads are too packed, and too many people will snicker as you attempt to u-turn. So find a parking lot to the side — most buildings have parking lots right in front of them. Once you have found one, park. Count to five to create the illusion that you’re actually getting out of the building, then get out and exit to the other lane. Fun as hell to watch, especially when you know what they’re actually doing.

Some are even more shameless and do this on driveways (a Pinoy classic), gas stations and McDonald’s Drive Thrus.

1b. Double u-turn: Similar to ‘park and go’ but involving a side street to your right side. Get into a relatively empty side street, do your little u-turn there, and exit to the other lane. This consumes extra gas but at least you’ll save face. Unless of course, you get caught in the wrong end of a one way street.

1c. Sidewalks are for cars too: The ultimate u-turn! When there is no other possible way to go, go up. That’s right. Think out of the box and climb the sidewalk to get to the other side. If you hear a metallic crack, that’s just your suspension giving way. Don’t worry. There are several thousand cars like yours. Join the club.

2. The gas station access road

Filipinos just love this one. To avoid traffic or even just to overtake, a lot of drivers love to cut across the generous spaces in gas stations in order to get ahead. This is extra useful in navigating crowded corners and u-turns, but I find this extremely rude. I believe this is banned in some countries.

3. Emergency convoy

“You’re pathetic.” That’s the first thought that comes to mind whenever I see any vehicle pick up speed to join in a convoy of either politicians (and their security detail) or a quick moving chain of ambulances and relatives. The most shameful I saw was when someone joined in a rather long but very fast moving procession headed by a hearse.

4. “Press horn to move car”

Now this just pisses me off. I absolutely hate drivers who blow their horn when (a) the stoplight turns green and they’re nudging the car in front of them to move, and (b) when they blow their horn during heavy traffic and nudge the car in front of them to move at the slightest advance. This ruins my mood no matter how good it is. It is a commentary on how selfish and inconsiderate some Filipinos can be. I prefer a quick flash of the lights, provided that it does take the car in front forever before they move.

5. Full lights hold back the darkness; not my rage

I like driving at night, but that can be ruined by a oncoming driver on the opposite lane with their lights on full. I appreciate those who turn down their lights when I flash them with my full lamps too, but those who don’t just piss me off. How rude.

6. DO NOT OVERTAKE ME!!!

This is almost as bad as #4 for me. So you’re driving along and you decide to shift to another lane. You flick on the signal lights and tilt the car to the new direction. Then someone behind you in the lane you’re getting into suddenly speeds up, blows the horn and flashes their lights. And they’re too far back for you to cut them. That is so annoying. I don’t know what the root of this is. The Filipino machismo perhaps? It’s not like they were in a hurry five seconds ago, and now I’m infringing on their lane? Funny stuff.

7. I WILL OVERTAKE YOU!!!

This is often a continuation of #6 but happens only with the worst men. So you successfully enter the lane. Now the car behind you shifts to another lane, accelerates the car a bit, and overtakes you. This is annoying and stupid. Is this supposed to make you feel bad? Some people do you one better and enter the lane you’re in after they overtake you. Wow. Amazing.

8. [X] means keep intersection open at all times, right?

This I hate as much as #4. In an eight-way intersection (N/S, S/N, E/W, W/E, N/E, S/W, W/N, E/S) with a stoplight, a phenomenon happens when linear flows are about to end and what follows are non-linear ones. We call this phenomenon “inching”: when those next in line enter the intersection before their turn in an attempt to cross the intersection before everyone else. I find this incredibly infantile and again, a product of Filipino machismo. I think people must be reminded that those markings in the interesection — similar to this: [X] — mean that the intersection must be kept open at all times. When you’re within those lines, you should always be moving. This of course, is to minimize crashes and to keep the channels open in case of an emergency. I’ve seen ambulances and firetrucks delayed because of this and that’s just a shame.

9. Pedestrian lanes are for pedestrians

Pedestrian lanes — even when there are no people crossing — are supposed to function like STOP signs. It pisses me off when drivers just zoom pass by the lanes especially when there are people crossing. I made it my personal advocacy to teach people how these lanes are supposed to work. I often stop right in the middle when I see cars accelerating as they head into the lanes. I raise my palms to stop sign height and wave my arms at the painted lane to show them that what it is. I do this more often particularly when I’m not the only one crossing. I know it’s a shameless thing to do but so is their driving. And I’m not the one with the problem.

10. Slow cars on the fast lane

On a right hand side highway, the left lane is for fast cars. As you go farther into the right, the slower you should go. Roads are designed that way because on the right you find access roads, exits and buildings. What happens in this country is the reverse (see next item too). I find it incredibly odd why the slow buses and trucks insist to stay on the left lane. This becomes incredibly frustrating when driving in the large expressways north and south of the metropolis. Like the past two items, this is a matter of education.

11. Overtaking on the shoulder

Related to the previous, fast cars now end up either weaving or worse, overtaking on the shoulder. That particular lane is for emergency purposes only, ladies and gentlemen. But I see this more as a function of the slow moving cars on the left lane because drivers now compensate by driving faster on the rightmost lanes. Recently, they enforced the no overtaking on shoulder policy to limited success. I recommend the toll officers to distribute flyers or whatever to educate our people on basic road etiquette.

12. Curiosity killed the cat and the dead cat caused more traffic

Butch Dalisay once said that the Filipino is naturally voyeuristic. Next is the bane of a unique Filipino trait: pakikiusi. Filipinos just love minding the business of other people, but I won’t get into the details of that right now. What worsens traffic after an accident happens is not that the altercation consumed a lane or two. What makes traffic worse is now everyone crawls so slowly since they want to catch a glimpse of the action. Beneath the gasps you can almost hear the expressions of the passers by: “Sino kayang sira ulo ang may kasalanan?” (Who was the idiot who caused this?) “May namatay kaya?” (Did someone die?) “Grabe naman yung sira!” (Look at that damage!) “Magkano kaya aabutin nila sa pag-aayos?” (How much will these repairs cost?) “Kawawa naman siya!” (That poor thing!)

The good news about this attitude is that a lot of Filipinos have begun to realize how stupid it is to admire and speculate about a wreck, especially when it causes them their own delays. Post-accident traffic has moved faster as of late but not as fast as it can. On this point at least, there is some improvement.

13. No lines, no lanes

Observe the following picture. What’s missing?

Lines to mark the lanes. If you didn’t notice, then I rest my case.

What I want out of our streets by 2008

14. Picket the fences!

Alright. Who is the genius who thought that putting fences in the middle of streets will make traffic flow more smoothly? Definitely someone who doesn’t know how traffic works. Reestablishing the yellow lanes for public transportation is a good move though, but putting up barricades? These fences actually disrupt the flow of traffic since vehicles move through highways like molecules do through air. They shift and accomodate in order to flow better. Fences stop that from happening, and therefore worsen traffic as it is.


These two pictures are from manila.metblogs.com

My proposed alternative to fences would be the establishment of certain lanes as bus lanes, carpool lanes, etc. and above all, to enforce them. A carpool lane, in particular, would give commuters incentives to ride together and thus reduce cars on the streets. But I guess it’s too much to ask Filipinos to think that way.

I suppose that’s why they put fences in the first place. So they don’t have to think. I admit, in that sense, there’s some wisdom in the move.

15. Smurfs

Smurfs? What do you mean smurf? I mean those little blue guys. I mean these dudes who stand in the middle of the road. These ones.

Oh, here’s another one looking for pie!

Yeah, these guys help ease traffic but most of the time they make it worse. And I hate it when they make the traffic flow contrary to the stoplights. Ever noticed that? That actually makes traffic worse. The least they can do is to make sure cars stay on their lanes (no #8) and move quickly when their turn comes.

Smurfs. Heh.

But be careful. They’re evil. Read on to find out.

16. Jeepneys — symbols of Philippine backwardness

“The ‘jeepney’ is a testament to Philippine ingenuity. Making the most out of the tools and resources left by the Americans after World War II, the jeepney was born to become the main mode of public transportation in the provinces and cities. Since then, jeepney operation has become a lush industry, with drivers and owners adorning their rides with slogans and iconographies that champion the spirit of the Filipino.”

In other words: we suck. Have you noticed any breakthroughs done for the jeepney in the past years? Thank you, Uncle Sam, for feeding us the scraps off your table.

Alright, warning. I’m about to get bloody serious here.

Has there been any new invention or technology introduced to make this vehicle run more efficiently? People see the jeepney as their source of income, but I see it as one reason why the Philippines remains where it is. The main goal of the jeepney, besides providing cheap public transportation, is to help people make ends meet. And so I find it tragic that there is has been no move to innovate the jeep over fears that it will raise costs for people who can’t afford that. So our cities continue to get more polluted and our streets continue to get even more congested.

On my way from our subdivision to EDSA, I pass a two-lane service road that has its intersections clogged by jeepneys. For instance, all the jeeps in the picture below are in a full stop. This makes things particularly bad during rush hour when the jeeps wouldn’t move since they compete for each other’s load. It’s a sad sight when you think about it.

Jeepney drivers are mostly undereducated (I’m being nice) and don’t know the basic rules of the road, signages and road courtesy. I can’t blame them for wanting to make ends meet because that is all they have. However, I would like to believe that things can be done to make the jeepney system in this country to work for all of us, rather than against us.

Off hand, I think there is a potential to create an engineering sector that would revolve around making our public utility vehicles — especially the jeepney — run on more efficient, quiet and cleaner machines. There is a lot of room for innovation here, and I think this is one very real application of science and technology in our country.

Then there must be education. We can’t assume that these drivers know the rules because they don’t have the means to know them. I think this can be a cool project university students can undertake, don’t you think?

Whew, alright that’s over.

And finally for this edition:

17. Ang Hari ng Daan (The King of the Road)

And of course, honors go to that thing which has caused us drivers the most suffering in EDSA, that infamous 10-lane divided avenue that cuts across the metropolis, and other major roads.


Northbound at 9:45am

The above picture shows you that size matters. And when several of them converge during rush hour, all hell breaks loose. But it can’t go anywhere. Traffic, eh.


Southbound at 5:15pm

These monsters behave like jeepneys, only bigger. These guys know you know they’re big and so they wouldn’t think twice to throw that weight around.

Even though there are smurfs around to tame them, it isn’t enough. Often, their queues take up so much space thus engulfing the avenues even during the off hours. Look at exhibit A and B:

The only solution to the bus problem would be to strictly enforce their registration and lisence to operate. Most of these buses are on colorum (unregistered and unlisenced) and are bankrolled by the very smurfs (they’re evil, see?) and police who are supposed to keep them off the streets. When buses are pulled over, that’s just for show. They’re all trying to pull a fast one on us. Welcome to the Philippines.

People cry that our country is corrupt but don’t realize the ordinary, everyday consequences of that corruption. Now you know that the bus problem is one example. And so is traffic.

CONCLUSION

This list is a rant inasmuch as it is a commentary on the state of affairs in the Philippines as seen through the point of view of an everyday occurence: heavy traffic. What causes it? How can we solve it?

While it is my style to analyze the phenomenon, perhaps give it some historical grounding or a perspective into human nature, I won’t do that right now. Well, I’ve spilled some anyway and I hope you caught them. Regardless, I want you to come to your own conclusions about what traffic says about our people.

I in no way claim to be the perfect driver. I can speak of the above sins because I’ve commited some myself. Yeah, my car has been wrecked once and I became a spectacle for all to see. And yes, I had often fallen prey to road rage since, as you have read, I have a lot of bones to pick. But the past years have made me more patient, even as I observed how inconsiderate and undisciplined most Filipino drivers continue to be.

As for my position on public transportation, I’m not going to the extreme and declare that public transportation be outlawed (although I’m tempted). I’ve had my own experiences taking public transportation, and have met real operators and jeepney drivers who cling on to driving each day in order to keep their families alive. And I am sure that millions of commuters will agree that we just can’t get rid of them.

So while I recognize that we need these jeepneys and buses, I also realize that we can do this better. Any country, no matter how advanced, will need to provide their people with affordable, safe and efficient public transportation. I feel that better technology, more education and improved law enforcement are all it needs. But again, this is the Philippines and that may be too much to ask. Yet that doesn’t mean we stop knocking and bugging the powers that be until it happens because one day, we’ll have no choice.

This list is by no means final. I hope a lot get to read it and add to it. If you’ve noticed, I haven’t even pointed out the problems with public utility vehicles, and that is an entry by itself.

So until the next edition, stay safe. Happy driving to those who drive and safe trip to those who place their lives in the hands of others. The road, as you can see for yourself, is a dangerous place. Good news is it just doesn’t have to be that way.

 

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59 Comments

  1. #13. tricycle and jeepney drivers, the true kings of the road!!

    i hate it when they cross the street blindly, without the benefit of at least a honk of their teeny [or blaring] horns… one would think that they should at least, before completely crossing, to stop at the middle of the intersection and look either left [or right, as the case maybe] before completely crossing the road. but no!! they simply zoom right across the instersection, knowing that drivers like you and i will be at fault, under the law, when and if we hit them… or that they know we cannot ask them for money to fix our verhicles… or that they simply don’t care…

  2. I don’t drive (anymore – because I’m too scared) that’s why I cannot comment about this post but I would like to commend you on your “return to call center” entry. Nice one.

    Made me recall my own call center agent days.

    Good thing we both turned around.

  3. ChrisH – Hey, that’s so true. I’ll definitely include that in the next update! Thanks!

    Lara – Yeah, that was fun for me to write. That place wasn’t big enough for either of us.

  4. Impetuous: everyone’s all too eager to prove that they’re “better” than everyone else and all that.

    Barbarism: we’re in a civilized world, living with civilized rules, which some shamelessly, and unreasonably, ignore.

    A single-phrase summary.

  5. Hahaha! Good post!

    I’m guilty though of numbers 4 & 7 —

    #4 “Press horn to move car”
    At a stoplight during rush hour, the LEAST that the person IN FRONT of the lane can do is PAY ATTENTION. It’s not like they’re the only ones on the road… I mean, wtf are they doing? Green means GO, people. Get a move on it!

    #7 I WILL OVERTAKE YOU!!!
    I get this urge ONLY when the person who overtook me was forced into the situation i.e. he/she had to cut into my lane because the jeepney in front of them stopped. If they drive just as nice as I do, then it’s ok. But if they start letting everybody cut in front of them, hey, I might as well do the same.

    Another thing wrong with Metro Manila traffic:

    • Merging lanes means yielding alternately!
    This I hate whenever there are queues for a parking entrance/exit. Come on people, merge one car at a time! This isn’t a problem if the establishment has a security guard waving cars to go through alternately, but if left to each other’s discretion, all hell breaks loose. There are places however, where people are better educated, who do this naturally. I just wish this behavior was more common.

    There’s more, but it would eat up a lot of space here.

  6. Nice post! Ohh, I can’t wait for your next article about PUB and PUJ drivers. They are the major cause of traffic jams along EDSA.

    Note to number 3: What i do when in this situation is to let the ambulance cut into my lane and then block the car trying to follow the ambulance. Then I’ll drive slowly before hitting the gas…hehehe

  7. Ok, here’s another one:

    • On-ramp/Off-ramp/Left-Turn Swerving Maneuvers
    This usually happens at chokepoints, wherein there’s a flyover or a left-turn, and the lane is quite filled-up. Some very enterprising drivers will cut in front of everybody else, at the very end of the lane, and try to SQUEEZE in so as to get ahead and do their thing. I’m sure if the authorities took their time to put up barriers way ahead of this chokepoint, people would learn to stay on the designated lanes. I’ve learned since then to keep close to the vehicle in front of me when near the end of the lane… and this works well if your “shield” is a rather large truck or bus.

  8. i have to agree with you! i’ve long given up on seeing driving conditions in the philippines improve. how i wish jeepneys and pedicabs were not invented at all. and how i wish that drivers get educated about common courtesy and more so of important traffic rules. hey i forgot to add, how about those ‘traffic police’ who just suddenly show up from nowhere and insist you made a traffic violation? only in the philippines:)

  9. well, what’s pretty interesting about the heavy traffic was a segment from “Imbestigador” (iirc), that featured the pedestrian sheds not being used in the roads of Commonwealth.

    actually, I find it weird that MMDA cannot solve the problem (or maybe minimize) at the part of the Tandang Sora flyover before the overpass of “Luzon”.

  10. How did I miss this entry?

    9. Pedestrian lanes are for pedestrians

    OMFG. That is so true. You can ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you I don’t know how to cross roads. Ok, I really AM scared of crossing roads here but I don’t think it’s because I don’t know how to cross, but because people here just don’t know how to drive properly. Especially the assholes who zoom past me at pedestrian lanes.That never happened to me in Hong Kong 😡 And #12 – Oh God. I hate it when stuff like that happens, especially when they make me late for school. UUUGH I haaaate usiseros.

    /rant

  11. How would people get to and fro efficiently without the Jeepneys you disdain?

    Yes, Jeepneys should be more efficient and less polluting.

    Yes, there should be more courtesy in thier use. Blocking traffic to try to get a full load is a problem for sure. But without these over packed vehicles, there would have to be more less-packed vehicles on the roads.

    I am an american who has spent about 12 weeks in Manila this past year in 4 visits. There are some startling differences between American and Manila roads and practices.

    Here are my cures.

    1) Too few roads to get to destinations. Too many communities have 1 entrance and forbid non residents from entering or driving through. Require communities to open up with entrances in each direction, so that there are many more routes to and from any destination, for everyone. In my town in america, the entire city is on a grid pattern, with no exclusive neighborhoods, no guarded gates, many exits from each neighborhood.

    2) Tow away vehicles that park on the road for even a minute. In the area I stayed there, a vulcanizing shop did all the repairs right on a busy highway, creating a choke point. Require folks like this to have parking spaces to do repairs- tow away the customers and make the shop pay for it. In another area, near the airport, two jeepney owners parked on a busy street across from each other, creating a chokepoint restricting a 4 lane highway to 2 lanes, for weeks while I was there. It backed up traffic for kilometers.

    3) Get an effective road builder to widen some roads.

    4) Extend hours of government offices, so that people could do business over a 12 hour period instead of a 8 hour period. Stagger shifts so that people are coming to work over a longer period of time, to create less onerous, longer rush hours.

  12. Glen, thanks for the comments! I hope you enjoyed your four weeks here.

    I appreciate your ‘cures’ and I would say that most of us would agree. However, this has not been unheard of before and so let me get you up to speed with reality.

    1. On the contrary, there are too many roads. With enough time in Manila, you would discover that we have tons of sidestreets and alternate routes.

    But as to the opening up of villages? That won’t happen just yet. Filipino communities are too territorial still. Security is still the number one concern of most residents. The more cloistered and ‘exclusive’ their communities are, the better.

    2. This is “being done” but then again it isn’t being implemented. The jeepneys run their own system of loyalties and often have their way with the authorities through bribes or kickbacks. Thus, this has weakened the over-all credibility of the law enforcement institution here until it eventually disappeared.

    3. Sure. Road builder to widen, yes. Funds for that road builder, none. And if there is, it gets gobbled up by cutbacks and kickbacks. Corruption here is at the street level, unlike in the US where it is mostly in the lobbyists in Washington. We know there is a need for this, but there is just no political will to fund it. (Unless it’s election time.)

    4. I work for the government and I can say that this can’t be done yet. Again, a matter of funding. This is a great idea and we would implement it if we can but unfortunately, we can’t.

    So this is the Philippine reality. Jeepneys are just one aspect of a much wider, structural problem.

    I’m not advocating that we get rid of them because they are an essential part of Filipino culture and life. However, it can be done better.

    For now, I recommend policies such as carpooling (which I’ve seen in cities like Los Angeles) and a reinforcement of the licensing requirements for jeepney drivers and operators.

  13. theres just too many buses in metro manila, if you happen to ride an air conditioned bus in edsa going to alabang, and you’ll pass sm makati, be prepare to waste 30 to 40 minutes. the bus will enter a queue and wouldnt leave the queue until its full. that only shows that theres too many bus in edsa.

    btw, just a little correction, i think philippines is left hand drive (LHD) and right hand traffic (RHT).

  14. Buses and jeeps are ok, had it not been that there are too much of them swarming in a very small, critical spot with lots of commuters. There are waiting sheds located within 50 meters of the critical spot that are empty of commuters because the people and their PUVs crowd in a more convenient area, but that just slows everyone else down.

  15. i f*cking miss @$$hole driving 😛 i drive like that here and i get two speeding tickets in only 20 miles. hahah! hey, how about those people using cellphones while driving? like, taking pictures to post on the net and stuff… 😛 heheh just kidding.

  16. I really believe that trains and subways are good measures to decongest our roads but yet again, we don’t have the funding.

    *still waits for the plan of MRT-4 that runs along Commonwealth… it was planned for last year and now, it still on the drawing board.*

  17. Hey Martin, this entry is awesome. You know what? One of these days I really want to drive down EDSA and take videos of all the gross violations of buses (mostly smoke belching and throwing one’s weight around), post the videos on Youtube and link them to my blog. I will clearly show the plate number and bus company.

    I don’t know what effect it will have, but I’m sure it’ll catch attention.

  18. Trex, yeah. I agree.

    Boj, those assholes should go to jail. Oh, wait.

    Patrick, I’d love to drive along Commonwealth once that track is done. Also, I’ve long pondered about trains and subways. Trains are doable but subways are very, very expensive. However, you’re right. They would be awesome.

    Joey, thanks. The first edition of this thing came out January 22. Been polishing it every now and then. I await that entry of yours. That would be way cool and I will pimp it every way I can.

  19. “I love to drive, but I hate our streets.”

    I feel you on that one cuz! Haha!

    I almost had my first episode of road rage this afternoon. The light had just turned green and this guy behind me was honking his horn like hell. I raised my hand to give him the finger but then I realized my mom was sitting at the back. xp Haha!

    Damn uneducated Filipino drivers!

  20. #12 reminds me of a Filipino saying, “It takes about ten people to cut a tree.” Two are actually cutting while the others are just plain curious.

    Great post!

  21. Interesting blog. Has anyone noticed the scam that is going on in Manila where u turn signs are hidden under and behind tress so that unsuspecting motorists ( new to the area) get caught making a u-turn at an intersection while the cops are waiting on the other side to catch them? How can anyone notice a no-u-turn sign hidden from plain view and in enough time to be recognized? Why is the no-u-turn sign at the corner closest to the vehicle that has not crossed the intersection and not across the intersection where it can be seen without having to look over your left shoulder, should you be so lucky… Have you noticed how all the shrubs planted on the median are all close to ground level about 2 feet high, nicely pruned, except the plant right in front of the u-turn sign which covers the sign? You would think that the city gardeners would notice that out of 10 or so shrubs, the one covering the u-turn sign needs to and should be pruned along with the others in the row specially since it’s covering an all important traffic aid. How about on C. M. Recto St where G. Masangkay intersects, the row of trees are not pruned low to the ground, but there is a no-u-turn sign, nailed to a large and bushy tree at the corner? Between the long dense row of tall bushes and then the large shady tree under which the small NO-U-TURN sign was precariously hung, anyone coming to that part of Binondo would never see the no-u-turn sign, yet the police seem to be posted there ready to catch “law breakers”. What makes the traffic cops so sure that’s the place to watch for illegal U-turns? Is it because they, in cahoots with the city engineers, the city gardeners, city hall, and the local traffic enforcers, purposely connived, designed, the array of tall trees to hide the no-u-turn sign so they can precisely catch the inevitable confused motorist, solely based on their planned and propagated confusion. This smells like a scam. Instead of the city planners trying to be of service to the motorist who has so many things to negotiate, traffic, changing traffic laws, undisciplined pedestrians etc., they are busy making traps to enhance their incomes. How about the vague “no parking” sign on T. Alonzo in Binondo? The “No Parking” signs are posted facing the opposite side of the street, NOT IN THE DIRECTION OF THE MOTORIST GOING DOWN THE STREET. So, with all the traffic, tricycles, stock boys moving goods on carts across the street, or a large delivery truck happens to be blocking those oddly facing no parking signs, a driver endtering the T. Alonzo area to perhaps look for some hard to find brass or copper material, would have to have eyes on four sides of his /her head to catch all the signage. What about the fact that even if T. Alonzo is a one way street, the “no parking” signs just say ” no parking” not “NO PARKING THIS SIDE or “NO PARKING RIGHT SIDE OF T.ALONZO nor does the sign sport arrows left and right of the sign to indicate the entire street, there is no parking. There is no red painted curb anywhere in Binondo or other areas of Manila that is a universal sign for no parking the entire length of the street. Neither does it say “NO PARKING TOW AWAY ZONE” on T. Alonzo. You don’t know where the no parking sign is specifically telling you, you can not park. And you only know it’s a “tow away” zone until AFTER you’ve been towed. Then they scam you for P1,500 while they tow your vehicle to Harrison Plaza. The people at the impounding lot do not care that you were confused by their signage. Yet it’s curious that the next street ONGPIN has the proper “NO PARKING THIS SIDE” signs. Why didn’t they think to put those same signs on T. ALONZO? Because, THIS IS A SCAM. They don’t want to help you avoid a fine, they want you to fall into a trap so they can collect the fine. Are they being responsible government officials? I think not. Why are all the signages throughout Manila inconsistent in the way they look, where they are placed and what they mean? The people at the impounding lot will bring out a “NO PARKING” sign to show you “A NO PARKING SIGN” even if it looks completely different from the no parking sign they towed your verhicle for, but they can’t answer you when you ask them, where EXACTLY DO YOU MEAN WE CAN”T PARK? Nor do all the signs follow a specific shape so that a motorist can tell at a glance what the sign is most likely to mean even without reading it. ALL signages are carbon copies of the ones in the USA. But tell that to the impounding lot “officials” and they’ll tell you “That’s the US, this is the Philippines.” Since when does a no parking or no-u-turn sign meant originally to inform and help a motorist, turn into a no parking or no u-turn sign set up to confuse and entrap a motorist? Only in the Philippines. And only with corrupt traffic enforcers fostering a corrupt vague sign campaign. This starts at the top. The cops blame city hall and the impounding lot people blame the city engineers. Are the city engineers that dumb? Can’t be, because they have the proper signs all down pat. They just seem to have come up with a money making scheme to victimize motorists not familiar with the area they happen to be driving through. They know that if they put the proper sign at the proper place, not obstructed by thick trees, at angles easily seen by someone driving at a good clip, they will not have any money in the fine kitty. And why does the impounding lot office not have a cash register that stamps the fine paid? Why is it an employee who makes change out of his wallet that holds the money? Hmmmm….what goes around..comes around…and whatever government officials do to induce bad karma, affects all the rank and file and the entire country as well.

  22. Oh yeah sir I remembered a car blow its horn even if the stoplight showed red…and a motorcycle parked infront of our car while we were in a line to the entrance of the drive-thru of a mcdo near sm bicutan =)

  23. I really like your list and I agree with you totally…

    I stop for pedestrians. My thinking: I’m a pedestrian too and would like the same courtesy. I specially hate when I am driving and I stop to let a pedestrian cross then you hear the driver behind you honk angrily (grrrr!). We should also stop a good distance from the pedestrian just so they know we are giving them their just right-of-way. Many drivers do not even come to a full stop. I think that’s just as discourteous.

    Then talk about emergency vehicles- I don’t pull over for the foolish politicians. BUT I do pull over for emergency vehicles- specially ambulances. There was this one time in EDSA just in front of Megamall. I see the ambulance on my rear view mirror as the poor fella desperately makes in way through 6pm traffic with siren glaring. So I pull over to let them through. Guess what- here comes the MMDA traffic (hmmm)enforcer. He asks me to pull down my window, and demands “Baket ka nakahinto!” (duh?) These guys need driver training too!!! In the US, following an ambulance is at least a $1000 fine. IN FACT, we should strip these nitwit MMDAs of all traffic duties. Traffic enforcement should never be MMDA’s business- it should be CITY PLANNING and DEVELOPMENT. (haay… that’s a whole other blog).

    Take a look at BUSES (screw the jeepneys!). I’d say you will never see a bus with at least 40-50% occupancy. WHAT A WASTE! You would think these bus operators know how to run a transport business. Now, here is where MMDA can come in. Call all these bus operators and give them pointers on how to efficiently run their business. Pool them into bus coops and buy bigger buses and run them ON SCHEDULE. Just like they do in more efficient cities like Singapore or at least Hong Kong. Designated bus stops with schedule bus stops. Plan, plan, plan!!! That is what our leaders new to learn. (Haaaaaaay!)

    Another thing: What is LTO doing about standardizing traffic signs? Can’t we at least use international standards? Here’s another anecdote: I took a turn into one of the smaller streets off Banawe Street in QC. Lo and behold, your “surprise” MMDA guys appears and tells me I have entered a one way street. I was pretty sure I didn’t see a sign. So I challenged him to show me the sign. We walked back a few meters and he shows me a blackboard (can you believe it!) that says DO NOT ENTER- ONE WAY. I said you can’t give me a ticket of a sign like that and drove away. I said it in english just to stun him eough for my getaway (hihihi!).

    What a funny world we live in. 🙂

    But I’m not a saint… I am guilty of Furball’s comment on “On-ramp/Off-ramp/Left-Turn Swerving Maneuvers”… but only because… (here I go rationalizing here)… drivers DON’T STAY ON THEIR LANES (THE FEW TIMES) THERE ARE LANES. You see when you don’t hold your lanes, the buses force their way by brute force. STAY ON YOUR LANE and DON’T BE AFRAID OF THESE BULLY BUSES!

    Haaay… I so agree that the only way we can fix these traffic woes is to strip EVERYONE of the driving license and re-educate and re-test EVERYONE. Get rid of MMDA so-called-enforcers and employ cops with at least some college education (police academy graduates). I miss the Constabulary Police of the Martial Law years. Now, those were incorruptible men in uniform. When they give you a ticket, NO ONE COMPLAINS. Mostly because they KNOW the law and enforce it fairly. MMDA? Are they ex-METRO AIDES?

    piCo

  24. oh one more thing… why don’t we have something like this:

    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/dl600.pdf

    We should!

    It’s not only for our education. It’s also for our protection. How do we know, when we are apprehended, what is RIGHT? In fact, is it law when nothing is actually published about traffic law?

    I wish we can ask Congress to write one up– an intelligent one.

  25. Public vehicles in the Philippines is the primary reason for all the traffic. They are very undicsciplined and inconsiderate of others. I really want to see what would happen if just for one day, all public vehicles are banned from the streets of Metro Manila. I’m sure traffic flow would be so much smoother. What annoys me even more is the justification those drivers give for their stupid actions. They always say “Hanapbuhay lang” (It’s just our livelihood) which is stupid because hell, if that’s the case then we can all be assassins and say the same thing to justify killing people. The fact of the matter is what they’re doing is illegal, and they should be punished accordingly by the authorities.

  26. I was trying to find a way to ask authorities about some traffic concerns but the MMDA website is too slow to generate everything. And so i tried to find another way….then I found the “unofficial list” 🙂 There was heavy traffic at the intersection of Roxas Boulevard at 11:30 pm apparently because the lights keep changing so fast, vehicles accumulated and no help around. I called the MMDA hotline then. Now, I wanted to follow up my call but i couldn’t figure out if there’s such an online service in the “official website”….
    I am happy to know that there are other drivers in the metro who would like to improve the condition. All the while I thought good drivers are an extinct species. I wish more people (drivers) could read the article on the “unofficial list…” because it’s all true. All Metro Manila drivers should know and practice road courtesy. Thanks for this space.

  27. Then someone behind you in the lane you’re getting into suddenly speeds up, blows the horn and flashes their lights.

    What makes it more annoying, some Filipino even have the guts to show the dirty finger after overtaking. Rude.

    I think we could also say that Speed is a problem. I mean, this can also cause problems because when someone loses control of his vehicle, then lo and behold, a disaster will occur and will be blocking at least 2 lanes. Bad.

  28. Hi sir!
    Mich from ’07 here.
    I was actually looking for articles on the MMDA, then – tada – i came across your page. Very interesting. I’m reading up on this for a section of my report about the performance of an MMDA – I shall acknowledge you in the public’s response to the MMDA. 🙂
    Up to now, your words still inspire me! 🙂

  29. The reason is “incompetent management”. Officials who are responsible with our traffic conditions do not know the meaning of “RIGHT OF WAY.” I observe that almost if not all of the roads from small streets to big highways do not follow the “RIGHT OF WAY” rule.

    I downloaded a file from the LTO website & I noticed that it is similar to the driver’s manual of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) California, U.S.A.

    The “RIGHT OF WAY” rule should the foundation in designing, constructing the roads and its rules and regulations.

    Officials and enforcers do not know the “RIGHT OF WAY” rule and so are the majority of Philippine motorists.

    WARNING: SLOW TRAFFIC DUE TO INCOMPETENT MANAGEMENT.

    GOD bless the Philippines.

  30. nice one sir. hope you could do an analysis on Philippine roads and how it reflects our attitude, way of life, way of thinking, and our bas habits as people. Thank you. God bless

  31. hi, the traffic in metro manila last night 15 December was terrible and there are plenty of words to describe the feeling. you have perfectly itemized all the wrong things in Philippine traffic. to add; I am not sure if people notice that most cars now has fluorescent headlights and it just gives me headache. I want to complain, I want to ask who invented this stupid idea. also, our EDSA is filled with NOISE, AIR and more importantly VISUAL pollution and the government is not doing any thing to get all those nasty ugly billboards down. they do not add value at all to the life of the Filipinos especially our young people.

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