Traffic in the Philippines

Naga City, October 2016

I will start my report about the traffic in the Philippines with the longer distances where you need a plane or a ship. Traveling by plane in the Philippines is for yourself not that easy because you normally have to go first back to Manila. The flight plan for domestic flights here is big. That means that you can reach nearly every region in the Philippines by plane. Nearly every island has an airport also in the North of Luzon are three airports. Form Manila you can flight to every other city with an airport. So for example when I want to go from Naga to Puerta Princessa (Palawan) I first have to go to Manila and there I take another plane going there. For organising it is the better and easier solution. They can’t organise a plan were it is possible to go from every place to every other place. For only a few people. In some other famous places they offer also to travel directly to another place. For example it in Legazpi it is possible to flight of course to Manila but also to Cebu. The plane is mostly used by travellers or business people.
Visayas is a region of the Philippines formed of a lot of island. There it is normal to go by ship. It is fastest and often the only way to go there. Some islands you can only reach with a ship.
Now I will come to the land traffic.
First of all the quality of the streets here is not the same as I’m used to it back in Germany. Especially in the North of Luzon I was really shock because most of the highways had the quality as the German dirt paths. This streets were partial unpaved and I was afraid what will happen when you drive a bit too fast and lose the control over our vehicle. It can happen that you overturn because the North of Luzon is the mountain region of the Philippines.
In general the streets are not so wide like in Germany and have more bends. So it is harder to see the oncoming traffic.
In Manila there is a special street net you have to pay for it when you want to use it but this streets are the best streets in the Philippines I have seen since I’m here.
The traffic is very slow because of the used vehicles. I will represent and explain them in a later point.
For me it seems like here in the Philippines exists the rule the stronger one wins or no rules exist because everyone drives somehow the way he wants. Next to the streets you can see some signs like STOP. For in Naga also traffic lights exist but most of the time they are turned off because the city government and the police observed that the traffic works out better without them. The drivers most of the time don’t care if the lights are red when nobody is coming they drive. To bend is somehow challenging. The drivers have to be really careful if someone is coming fast to go straight or if there are pedestrians (but most of the time they don’t care about pedestrians). To be a pedestrian you really have to pay attention because most of the time people don’t care about you as a pedestrian. As a rule you can say nobody stops at a zebra crossing to let the people cross the street. Sometimes it is easier to start crossing the street instead of waiting because this is faster and the drivers recognise you rather.
Now I will explain the different vehicles.
Badjak: This is a bicycle with an assessor. This vehicle you use for very short distances up to around 1km. It is famous because of the climate. Most of the time it is very hot and you sweat easily. The people don’t want to arrive already sweaty at their working place or school. Normally the ride costs five pessos per person. Normally in the assessor one to two people can fit.
Tricycle: This is a motorcycle with an assessor. It is normally used for distances between 1.5km to 4km. The price is 8 pessos per person. In my opinion this is the most common vehicle in the city. Some tricycles have a sign which says „private“. Some families own one because you can transport most of the stuff with a tricycle and than you need no car which ich more expensive. Sometimes I’m surprised how much you can transport with one tricycle and that it doesn’t break. For Filipinos one tricycle is good for five persons. But they also drive only with two persons. In this case they stop sometimes and tell the people who stand around in which direction they drive to get more passengers.
Normally it is easy to get a Bajak or Tricycle. The drivers drive around and ask if you need one and then you can say yes or most of the time it is enough to give them a sign. You tell the drivers where you want to go and then they will bring you there.
Jeepney: These vehicles are originally made out of US jeeps of Word War 2. They have in the the front a driver seat and a front passenger seat. In the back there are two benches. In a Jeepney fit around 20 persons. If the weather is good and the benches are already filled the people sit also on the top of the roof. It is a vehicle which is used inside the city but also going to cities up to 30km around. The price inside the city is 8pessos. Every Jeepney has a sign with the direction it will drive. When you want to use a Jeepney you raise your hand to stop the one with says it will go to the direction you need to go. To pay you say „payat“ and the money will be given to the driver by the people who sit nearer to the driver. To leave the Jeepney you say „para“ and it stops and you leave.
For longer distances you normally use a van or a bus. This vehicles leave at the central bus or van terminal. The terminals look similar to them in Germany. You find a lot of souvenir shops and little shops where you can buy drinks and junk foods. The busses are as a rule cheaper then the van but the van is faster. Normally there is no fixed plan when they leave. For example the vans leave when they are full. The busses in the Bicol region I really like because they have no windows and so you are able to enjoy the landscape more directly.
Going to Manila by bus is also possible. This busses have a fixed schedule when they leave and you can buy your ticket already one month before you will do your trip. Then you are safe having a seat. This busses are really cold because of the aircorn. I have already used this busses twice and both times I wore a thick jacket and used a blanket.
In general I can say the quality of the tyres of all different types of vehicles is really bad and I’m sure most of them would fail in a German control. Very often the vehicles here are overloaded and I would say everybody breaks the traffic rules. For example it is very common to overtake on the hard shoulder if it’s free.
I’m always surprised how good the traffic works out and inside the city it is very easy, cheap and uncomplicated to come around. I’m sure it will be hard to pay for vehicles when I’m back in. Germany because compared to the Philippines the vehicles are very very expensive.

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