What we all need is just one more whining foreigner on a blog site complaining about how the Filipino’s are such bad drivers it’ll make me sick, I grew up and learned to drive in Boston, now we can talk about bad drivers. I’ve driven a car in Mombasa Kenya, Naples Italy, Scotland, Mexico, Central and South America, Guam and more places then I would care to mention. I’ve seen bad driving but most of the bad driving I witnessed was in supposedly developed countries where there were rules to cover all the other rules and no list of the exceptions to those rules. Let’s say where you’re from it is legal to turn right on red. But just down the road without a sign stating that, then it is not legal, and always a hefty fine if you assume incorrectly. Try a rotary (Round-About) in Massachusetts if you want to see fun on a roadway.
A funny driving rule in Naples Italy back in the 1960’s; there was no driving drunk charge on the books. The prevailing logic was if you did drive drunk, you must be insane and will be committed to an asylum until a doctor finds you sane once more. Bring your tooth brush!
Here in the Philippines the traffic signal is nothing but a guide, and stop signs seldom are working. On the highway the three lanes can become 5 lanes, plus a bus or Jeepney can stop wherever they choose to pick up or discharge a passenger. While in the developed world you must sit for 45 minutes until that well regulated bus approaches the only stop they are allowed to pick you up at and you find you’re standing at the wrong stop and watch it pass you by. Tell me that has never happened to you?
I like the freedom of driving and interacting with my fellow drivers on the Philippine byways, and in twenty plus years I’ve never witnessed road rage. If I get cut off or some car fronts the line I’ve learned to give the salute (Not the finger but the Pinoy shrug) and drive on smartly. For I know that sometime down the road I’ll be allowed to repeat that same maneuver and not a word will be said in anger. I’ve seen very few accidents here with the exception of underpowered motorbikes that can’t seem to get out of their own way, but are always in yours. They have the life expectancy of that of gold fish you won at ring toss game at the fair. (The same memory span also)
Shortly after moving here full time I had built, the first air conditioned owner jeep in this area, real roll up windows in real metal doors that locked with a key Power steering and power breaks. Like Burger King; “You can have it your way” But the one major-major mistake I made was not installing one of those automatic Transmixers for my wife. I was a foolish-foolish man. I had a few cocktails one night and she drove me from the Barrio to my house in 1st gear the entire trip of 45 minutes. Our next car was a Mitsubishi Lancer with automatic shifting for my designated driver.
After the stateside over regulated anal-retentive driving that I had to deal with most of my life, then I got to experience the freedom while driving that Puerto Rico and the Philippines offers you, it was a sheer pleasure to experience the unregulated pandemonium and freedom of the road that after my ten years in Puerto Rico I was missing after being in the states another three years before coming to the Philippines, and yes, in Puerto Rico they drive just like the Philippines, more great drivers
But my point is for us to stop complaining, adjust or hire a driver or better yet, ride Jeepneys and complain about their driving. But leave the rest of the drivers alone as you’ll soon find out here in the Philippines you’re not quite the great driver you thought you were. Hell I’ve still got more to learn but I have no fear of driving anywhere on the Islands and I’ve driven in Manila, but that is not something I’ll ever repeat. What the hell was I thinking?
Just remember one important rule while driving here, and that is the rule of “Gross Tonnage” the larger a vehicle the more right of way it has. Now close your eyes pull into traffic and act like you know what you’re doing. Remember never show any fear.
Things that I enjoy:
- Went to renew the drivers license, they had none to issue; Please wait and check back every month. (5 months as off today.)
- My son-in-law’s tag expired, no tags at the LTO. Please wait, but here is a letter to show the traffic enforcer who will stop you twice a day.
- Week end visitor from Manila does not know why he was stopped for making a left turn from the extreme right lane while at a stop light. Had no idea what the infraction was.
- When traveling using GPS out on the island, no one told your provider that the road was changed to a one-way last year.
The list could go on, but I’d like to read some of your favorite driving stories. Happy Motoring and that the Trike drivers are the next best thing to AAA when broke down on the side of the road. Happy motoring!