Thursday, September 5, 2013


As hazardous as driving is in the Philippines,  walking, especially in Metro-Manila  is also often a risky venture. So here are some important pointers to keep in mind while getting around on foot. 

Crosswalks are merely stripes in the road as far as most drivers are concerned, so do not assume that they will automatically yield the right of way. When crossing, wait until the approaching vehicles come to a stop before proceeding, lane by lane.

Sidewalks are often non-existent, even along busy streets.  And where they do exist, they tend to be  poorly constructed. They  are often broken, cracked, or have small, almost unnoticeable but hazardous bumps of concrete. I've tripped and fallen a couple of times over these protrusions.  So watching where you're going should include looking down as well as ahead.  In many places, walkways are blocked by lampposts, utility poles, traffic signs, street vendor stalls, and parked vehicles, just to name a few obstacles.  So if you need to step into the street to get around them and are walking in the same direction that the traffic is flowing, check behind you for vehicles before stepping off the curb.

If you are walking alone on a sidewalk wide enough for only two people and two oncoming pedestrians walking abreast approach you, the person directly in front of you won't drop back by behind his/her companion until (s)he is a few inches away from youliterally in your face. This is evidently due to the personal narcissism that pervades Philippine culture such that people here  often are oblivious to the existence of the "other" i.e., anyone who is not in their personal circle of interest.

I recall a humorous bumper sticker from my California days: "If you don't like  the way I drive, get off the sidewalk".   In the Philippines, that's no joke. If you're walking on the sidewalk along a busy thoroughfare, be aware that  motorcyclists sometimes use walkways as a shortcut to avoid heavy traffic. Be especially alert as they may come up behind you without warning. 

Don't be surprised to see jaywalkers climbing over median barriers when crossing the streets.  They are indifferent to the risk of life and limb and don't want to bother walking to the nearest pedestrian overpass or crosswalk instead, even though there may be  signs warning that pedestrians have been struck and killed trying to cross at that spot.

In short, when you're out and about as a pedestrian, hazards abound.  So stay alert.  Stay focused. Stay alive.   

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