January 18, 2011

No Right of Way

6 1/2 years after I left the Philippines,
I found myself with a camera bag on my back,
a duffle bag on one hand,
and my passport and "green card" on the other hand.
I was standing behind a Filipino family at the immigration line at around 6:30pm.
My husband and my son were in the "non-Filipino citizen" line
(I forgot what it's actually called).

A few moments later, we passed by the customs
then out the door.
It took us by surprise because NAIA was completely different 
from all the airports we "flew into" back in the US.

Outside the door of the "baggage claim" and customs
were lanes for taxi cabs.
None else.
I didn't have an updated number of my family members,
and the first security guard I asked about where to go had a very bad attitude.
One security guard was nice to us, though.

Jesse bought a sim card at the airport. 
We thought that our phones accepts sim cards.
But they don't!
Oh we were so prepared for this... right.
The nice guard lent us his cellphone and I tried all the numbers
of my family members that I had in my phone.
None worked.

It took a while before the security guard advised Jesse to cross the street,
walk down the other building,
and look for the letter "S" (for our surnames).
Jesse found my family there.

So that was one surprise I didn't expect - NAIA was different.

Meeting 2 of my 7 siblings after 6 1/2 years didn't feel anything new to me.
It felt like I saw them yesterday.
My other siblings were waiting in Pampanga.

What took me in complete culture shock was the traffic
and the kind of Filipino drivers I forgot we had.
This sunk in when we entered Edsa:

(Not my pictures)

Good thing it was dark.
I didn't completely see how really crazy it was.
But still... the traffic was long.
And the word "right of way" doesn't exist there.
Whether you're a pedestrian or not.
(Anywhere in the Philippines, except when there are traffic lights,
pedestrians NEVER have the right of way).
Buses don't care if they crash into you.
If you're driving a car, you better make way for those buses.
Motorcycles slipped through no matter how thin
the passage was.
Vehicles changed lanes without any regards
for the other vehicles behind (or in front of) them.
They will change lanes even with the smallest inch of space they see.
And say it was 5 lanes - it became 6 lanes all just because
everybody was making their way through the traffic their own way,
thus making the traffic even heavier and longer.
Vehicles were literally bumper to bumper and shoulder to shoulder,
with just a few inches apart.
It was crazy.

I don't wanna have to drive through that kind of traffic.
Well at least it's not that crazy here in the US,
not that I know of.. yet..
and police officers catch you if you violate the traffic laws.
Thank goodness for those who really fulfill their obligations.


  1. Compared to the Philippines, learning to drive in the U.S. is a piece of cake, right Lois?!? :)

  2. That is one aspect in the U.S. that I like - the pedestrian's right of way. :0

  3. That is awful. I think my in-laws would die. They complain about the traffic in Salt Lake.


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