We revisit an editorial
we wrote in 2004. Since its writing, traffic in the metropolis has not
improved and in many ways seems to have gotten much worse.
and balikbayans in Metro Manila are confronted with the dilemma of whether
to get behind the wheel and drive themselves around the metropolis or get
someone else to do it for them. For those
visiting from countries such as the US and Canada, driving in Manila can be
quite an unnerving experience. It quickly becomes apparent that motoring in
Manila operates on a significantly different paradigm.
Two elements combine to make driving a
decidedly tourist-unfriendly experience: first is the Filipino driver. Make
no mistake, Filipinos have excellent driving skills. They maneuver their
vehicles to within inches of one another without hesitation. Filipino
Driving habits are another thing altogether. They break almost every driving
rule in the book: they make sudden left turns from the far right lane; they
straddle lanes; they cut into freeway traffic; they stop wherever they feel
like; they jump red lights; they drive with their headlights off at night;
and they use their horns incessantly.
The second element are the roads in the
Metropolis. There is an appalling lack of roadway signage. Many street signs
are missing. Over the past decades numerous fly-overs and skyways were
built, but signage on them are for the most part dismal. Some highway
turnoffs have their their signs posted only on the turnoff themselves,
leaving the uninitiated driver little time to prepare for it. A far cry from
the driver-friendly freeways of the West. There is also a lack of
consistency in signage making some signs hard to read when cruising at
highway speeds. Add to this the lack of lane delineations on many roads and
highways. Even more egregious are lanes that suddenly disappear without
warning, forcing drivers to suddenly merge to adjacent lanes. The litany of
faults can go on and on.
But rather than simply complain about this
sad state of affairs, here's what we feel should be done:
1. Driving education should be a required
course in high schools all over the country. The reason Filipinos drive
the way they do is because no one taught them otherwise. With traffic
growing significantly worse in and around Metro Manila, proper driving
techniques will go a long way in alleviating some of the congestion and
traffic jams that plague the daily commute.
2. The National
government should step in and correct the many shortcomings found in the
country's roadways. It can start by demanding consistency in signage;
making sure highways have clearly delineated lanes; and making sure
warning signs or roadway markings are present to alert drivers of potential hazards ahead.
Making Philippine roads driver-friendly
will go a long way in making them Tourist and Balikbayan-friendly. If the
only way visitors can get around is to have someone drive for them, their
mobility becomes somewhat diminished. And let us not forget that their
overall experience in the country inevitably includes traveling from one place to another.
We'll have more to say
on this issue in the near future, so "stay tuned."
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The passage of time has a way of distilling reality and bringing out truths that are sometimes hidden or lost by present circumstances. Case in point is the overwhelming level of admiration many Filipinos have for former President Corazon Aquino. When she passed away in 2009, the entire nation seemed beside itself in grief. Her casket was mobbed by thousands of mourners as it slowly made its way through the streets of Metro Manila to its final resting place at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque.
Will the Philippines Ever Become a Developed Country? The short answer to that is no—at least not in our lifetime. While the country has of late improved it credit ratings as evidenced by upgrades from Moody's, Fitch, and Standard & Poor's all that perceived progress is illusory. In the Fifties and Sixties, when the Philippines was undeniably the country at the top of the heap in Southeast Asia, people said it would always be the most industrialized country in the region.
So, Should Jejomar Binay Be the Next President of the Philippines?
Though his popularity rating has taken some hits lately, Vice President Jejomar Binay is still far and away the strongest contender for the Philippine presidency in 2016. But is he the right choice for the country? His legions of supporters will give you an enthusiastic "yes;" his detractors however, will tell you "no!" So who's right? To answer our question, lets look instead at Binay's deeds rather than the words of his supporters or detractors.
China’s Military Base on Mabini Reef Violates the Philippine Constitution
While searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on March 11, 2014, a Philippine Air Force plane flying over the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea sighted Chinese reclamation activity in the Mabini Reef of the Kalayaan Island Group within the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines. His aerial photographs were transmitted to the Philippine government for analysis.
Napoles PDAF/NGO Scandal: What is Ten or Fifteen Billion Pesos Really Worth?
For those who have been following the Janet Lim-Napoles PDAF/NGO* scandal these past months, it is easy to get caught up in all the rhetoric—the words and phrases repeated day after day. Words like "ten billion" or "fifteen billion" have turned into something akin to "gray" background noise. Words devoid of any real meaning or significance. So let us try to put back some meaning into those trite and often-repeated phrases in order to better understand some of the far-reaching ramifications of Napoles' actions.
How could they not have known that the Napoles NGOs were fake?
With Senator Bong Revilla already in police custody in Camp Crame and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile set to join him any day now, people need to start asking tough questions going forward. The privilege speeches of the senators along with the histrionics that accompanied them are thankfully now over so we can all address this issue more objectively.
The Self-Perpetuating Elite of the Philippines
In an essay published in the July 1968 issue of the American magazine Foreign Affairs, a novice Philippine senator described his country as “a land in which a few are spectacularly rich while the masses remain abjectly poor. . . . a land consecrated to democracy but run by an entrenched plutocracy… a people whose ambitions run high, but whose fulfillment is low and mainly restricted to the self-perpetuating elite…a land of privilege and rank – a republic dedicated to equality but mired in an archaic system of caste.”