24 March 2004

Monsters Unleashed!

Unlike this New Zealand news article and except for provincial trips, driving in Metro Manila is seldom about overspeeding. It is a lot, lot, more than that.

I am a very patient person. I am a kind person. I am a cool person. I believe I own a fairly good temperament and not easily provoked by inanities. As a physician, I also possess a healthy amount of empathy. Not only for my patients, but because I want to be a better person every day.

But those are my beliefs. I think all those desirable traits crumble and vanish when I drive to the hospital or take the road to go to any place in the metropolis.

When I was young, I thought driving merely involved making your vehicle move from point A to point B. As I matured, I learned that driving is both a skill and an art. I have been a driver for more than 12 years and I now know that survival on the road rests not only on my hands but on the hands of my fellow drivers on the road. I have also learned that in driving, the primary trait one must possess is a talent in anger management. The more you control your anger, the longer your life will be on the road.

Especially and specifically when you drive in Metro Manila.

It has long been said that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. Well, forgive me for bursting your bubble, but let me tell you, that if you can survive driving in Metro Manila, you can make it anywhere. I have also driven in several states in the US (amidst snowstorms and blizzards!), but let me assure you: the best training in driving can only be achieved in Metro Manila.

The following reasons offer great exercises in patience and anger management:

- Filipino drivers do not know that the leftmost lane is the faster lane and that slow-moving vehicles should stay rightmost.

- Filipino jeepney drivers think they can just stop in the middle of the road to load and unload passengers. If you honk to get them moving, you will surely get dagger looks if you are lucky, and a lot of cussing with matching invitations to a fistfight, if you are unfortunate.

- Filipino drivers think that the yellow in the traffic light means "drive like hell," or "drive like a racedriver in Formula 1."

- Filipino drivers do not know how to use signal lights. When they want to turn left, they just turn left. When they want to turn right, they just turn right. Screw those signal lights.

- Filipino drivers think there is no such thing as a FULL STOP in small street intersections. What they practice here is a modification called a ROLLING STOP. Good luck and hope you do not hit any of them in those intersections.

- Filipino drivers think that at nighttime, the high beam is the normal way of using the headlights. They do not care if you are blinded by the heavy lighting and even if you signal them to shift to low-beam, they ignore you.

- Filipino (tricycle, motorcycle) drivers think that their exclusive lane is (again!) the rightmost lane. If you see these slowpokes driving and blow your horn to ask them to give way, they will ignore you again if you are lucky, and cuss you if you are unlucky.

- Filipino drivers think that when red turns to green, the one in front should fly and drive as if racing to some imaginary finish line. How many times have you heard those annoying beeps even if the red lights are still about to turn to green?

- Filipino drivers think that if you signal left or right when you want to change lanes, that that is a signal for them to drive faster and cut you, hence preventing you to change to your desired lanes. As I said previously, they do not know what signal lights are for.

- Filipino drivers think that traffic signs are suggestions. The Filipino driver may choose not to follow them. Sometimes, they think traffic signs are decorations on the road, or worse, they think traffic signs are jokes. Either those, or they simply do not know how to read. Signs like NO LEFT TURN, DO NOT ENTER, ONE WAY, TURN LEFT WITH CARE, NO PARKING, NO LOADING/UNLOADING are all ignored.

There are more which I might have forgotten and I am sure my fellow Filipino webloggers can remind me...but let me assure you, my foreign readers, driving in the Philippines is the ultimate challenge you are looking for.

Come here in Manila and we will show you what driving is all about.

CREDITS: New Zealand News from XTRAMSN

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