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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Twice the Heroes—the SAF 44 Who Lost Lives in Mamasapano
The 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (SAF) who were brutally killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25, 2015 are heroes twice over: first, they paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country; second, they exposed for all to see, the dangers the country will face if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is passed.
No More Bangsamoro, Period!
With each passing day, it is becoming increasingly clear that the idea of a Bangsamoro is a bad idea. Just as the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) spearheaded by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was a bad idea (and declared unconstitutional in 2008 by the Supreme Court). Just as the failed Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) during the 1990s was a bad idea.
After the Mamasapano Massacre, Plans for a Bangsamoro Must Be Scrapped
What happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on January 25 is a "game changer"—make no mistake about it. Reality as we saw it before this event is not the reality we see now...everything is different; everything has "changed. When the Philippine National Police's (PNP) elite team known as the Special Action Force or SAF set out to arrest Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, it had actionable intelligence that the Malaysian fugitive was hiding in the town of Mamasapano. Marwan, an expert bomb maker, is a core member of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.
President Aquino Should Fly to Saudi Arabia and Pay His Last Respects to King Abdullah
Presidents and prime ministers, kings and queens; from Prince Charles and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, President Francois Hollande of France, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and many other heads of state from all corners of the globe have gone or are headed to Riyadh to pay their respects to the late King Abdullah. Even U.S. President Barack Obama cut short his state visit to India to fly to Saudi Arabia.
After the Pope's Visit: What We Filipinos Now Must Do
We put on a good show for Pope Francis. He loved it; we loved it; the world loved it. Now the long and painful task of bringing about the changes the pope asked for begins. Start with the Philippine Catholic Church. It should refocus its efforts towards the poor. As we wrote in previous editorials, many priests and bishops see themselves as members of the rich and privileged class. They feel more at home in country clubs and dining in expensive restaurants, than they do helping the poor who live in the squatter communities that dot most cities in the Philippines.
Pope Francis Admonishes Pinoys to End Scandalous Inequalities
We had a feeling this was coming. In his first major speech in the Philippines, Pope Francis called for an end to 'scandalous inequalities' in the country. And what better example of a scandalous inequality is there than that a preposterously ridiculous wedding of Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera which was officiated by 8 bishops and 7 priests. In addition, this crass wedding featured a 12-foot high wedding cake, a 2-million-peso wedding gown with an exaggeratedly long train that seemed to go on forever...you get the picture.
An Open Letter to Pope Francis; Please Read It Before Coming to the Philippines
Dear Pope Francis, your much anticipated visit to the Philippines is just a few days away. We expect that you will have been adequately briefed about the Philippines by the time you arrive. However, there might be a few things your Vatican handlers might have missed—or intentionally "forgot" to mention to you so we hope this letter reaches you in time for your historic visit. Before anything else, welcome!
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