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Metro Manila

Making traffic jams bearable

By Willie Jose
April 24, 2017


If you’re thinking of visiting our homeland, there’s one good advice:  brace yourselves both physically and mentally for the heavy traffic in Manila and its neighboring cities because this kind of traffic gridlock could certainly spoil your coming home, eating away much of your time and energy.

Back home, this heavy traffic jam is one of the most talked-about topics in radio stations, TV newscast, newspapers and even at homes--people are often heard discussing how exasperated they are in experiencing what seems to be never-ending traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

And it seems there’s no relief coming in the way that could finally ease the people’s suffering.

The heavy traffic is a big spoiler for balikbayans who want to maximize their stay in the country by spending their time in going to some tourist spots and meeting up with friends and relatives whom they’ve not seen for years.

However, their much precious time that could have been spent visiting their close friends and relatives were needlessly used up by the traffic congestion.

Balikbayans who come home for a short visit have to bear the stressful and exasperating experience of driving through snail-paced movement of vehicles, staying on the heavily congested roads from 2-3 hours before reaching their destinations and appointments.

Of course, the authorities have been doing their darn best to address the traffic mess by constructing flyovers, skyways, fielding more traffic enforcers to man the streets, improving the LRT and MRT train services.

But all these traffic solutions seem just like Band-Aid remedy to the country’s gigantic traffic mess.

A day before coming back to Canada last month, I read in the papers that the Manila Metropolitan Council (MMC) is fielding 3,000 deputized private volunteers to help man the traffic.

But the main problem is the overpopulation, non-compliance of traffic rules and the unchecked proliferation of private vehicles roaming the metropolis. Simply look around and you’ll see throngs of people and brand-new private vehicles.

A relative of mine who’s working in a call center in Pasay city said although she lives in East Rembo in Fort Bonifacio, to reach her workplace she has to drive for more than 2 hours to reach her workplace and  “ It’s much easy to reach Tagaytay in less that 2 hours from our residence.”

These days our kababayans could easily buy cars because of the low down payment policy of the car companies and for as low as P 20,000 down payments, they could have a brand new car.

While these private vehicles are flooding the roads, the size of most of the roads in the metropolis has remained the same.

Forget the idea of avoiding the so-called “ rush hours” because most of the time it’s all traffic jam on the road.

The best way to beat the heavy traffic is to leave your place early in the morning and have an allowance of at least 2-3 hours for any unexpected traffic congestion you might encounter on the road.

But based on my experience, when we visited a farm in Antipolo and we had to leave as early as 6 a.m. to avoid the traffic but that the heavy traffic was visibly beginning to unfold even before we could reach Marikina. And when we reached Antipolo, it was smooth riding all the way to the farm.

When I woke up early on that day, it was still dark but I saw some children already walking on the street for their early school classes that begin as early as 5:30 a.m.

As a balikbayan, I had difficulty meeting some friends and relatives—to visit a friend, I would need the whole day to do that: 2 -3 hours of driving to meet up with him and another 3 -4 hours in going back home; I was so blessed   enough to have my sister’s family driver who patiently drove me around.

 But what about the people who are simply commuting; I’m sure they always come late in going to their respective destinations and workplaces. And when they finally get to their destinations, most of them are already tired emotionally and physically.

It’s stressful to drive around in heavy congested streets with a number of snail-paced moving vehicles on the road.

Commuting the streets of Manila and its environs is a real challenge.

Before visiting our homeland, make sure to have some definite schedules on places to visit, friends and relatives to meet up and some get-togethers to attend to. In preparing all these tasks, factor in everything you could think of especially the huge traffic jam in the metropolis.

Don’t ever forget to bring some snacks, a bottle of water, smartphone for music and a book to read—and these things will surely make your trips less stressful and boring.

With all these traffics snarls, pollution, narrow streets, overpopulation etcetera, etcetera, but still, there’s no place like home—The Philippines.

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