On Being a Pedestrian in Manila

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Somehow, the cars and jeepneys, buses and motorbikes will dodge you. (Photo Source Unknown)

I’ve spent a lot of time, sweat, blood, and tears trying to make it through the streets of Manila, both as a pedestrian and as a car. It’s difficult to describe in words how Filipinos are able to deal with seemingly utter chaos while still making the best use of what narrow and inadequate roads and walkways we have. I found this blog post from Rambles by Desertrose that perfectly summarizes the feeling of crossing the road in good ol’ Manila from a foreigner’s point of view, quoting:

I’ve figured out, by watching the locals that to cross a road here you just have to walk…cars don’t stop you see. Pedestrian crossings? Na…purely for decoration.
So you just have to pick a moment, and GO…and do NOT hesitate, for he who hesitates, is…. no more.
Somehow, the cars and jeepneys, buses and motorbikes will dodge you. Not you dodge them…you just walk and God is with you.
Something like that.
God is with me anyway. “Oh God, oh God, ohhhhh God!”
Better still is if you cross with a whole bunch of other people.
Like lemmings, all running towards the cliffs edge.
Somehow, you just join in….and the cars swerve round the lemmings.
It’s absolute madness.
Everybody in a vehicle here honks their horns.
I don’t think they told the Philippino’s [sic] what the horn was actually for.
Nah…they’ve made up their own rules.
Honk if you’re impatient.
Honk if the light is red.
Honk if the light turns green.
Honk if the traffic is congested.
Honk if the road is completely clear.
Honk if you’re happy.
Honk if you just farted.
Honk ….just because.

It’s hilarious, especially the part about the lemmings; a pretty good example of what is completely normal for us Filipinos would be completely bizarre and absolutely terrifying for people in more developed nations. We just make lemons out of lemonade, that’s all.

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