Overcoming idiotic Filipino drivers: Three tips for navigating Manila traffic

From a macro collective perspective, the Manila traffic situation is really a simple issue. What we call the "mess" that is Manila traffic is no more than an emergent property; a collective outcome of the idiotic behaviour of the system's individual elements -- Idiotic Filipino Drivers. Tell-tale signs of a truly idiotic driver is a traffic negotiation style characterised by frequent rapid acceleration followed by hard braking, and awkward squeezing into tight spots. All are hallmarks of a habitual failure to anticipate, empathise, and foresee.

These are aspects that, when understood a bit more deeply, hold the keys to a successful conquest of Pinoy-style road traffic; thus,

(1) Keep tabs on what is going on behind you. It is a good driving habit to glance at your rear view mirrors every now and then. Usually, agressive drivers stick out like an attention-deficited kid in a class of well-behaved students. The more you are aware of and anticipate their movements, the less chance of you getting caught in a surprise cut in once these morons catch up with you.

(2) Do not signal your intentions when planning to shift lanes. The Philippines is a nation of takers, not givers. The moment a neighbouring motorist senses your intention to move into her lane, she will speed up and close the gap you are planning to fill. Empathy for the typical Pinoy condition reduces the ill-manners of surrounding motorists to nothing more than a sporting challenge -- like how the experienced tennis player applies an intuitive understanding of the physics of moving objects to evaluate the best way to whack an approaching ball back across the net.

(3) Continuously evaluate the situation four or five cars ahead of you, or as far ahead as your line of sight allows. Most Filipino drivers are morons lacking in foresight. They will often attempt to get ahead by swerving into a lane without realising there is a jeepney ahead in that lane stopping to disgorge a load of passengers onto the pavement. Use your far keener anticipation faculties to hem in cars behind jeepneys so that their drivers' malicious intentions to cut back into your lane ahead of you are thwarted.

Final tip:

Apply a bit of driving class.

Don't involve your passengers in the driving process. I've seen entire families involved in hand signalling surrounding motorists as their vehicle squeezes from one lane to the other. I've also seen passengers (in some really pathetic cases, the drivers' dates) getting out of the car to assist the driver squeeze into a tight parking spot. Uncool, to say the least.


  1. I learned to drive in the Philippines before driving in the US. Looking in your rear mirrors, turning so you're looking over your shoulders when backing up, etc.

    I think it's this utter paranoia that I got in the process of learning to be a "driver with class" that actually caused me to fail the California Driver's Test twice. Not because I was too rude, but because I was too polite in terms of right of way.

  2. My solution to driving in the Philippines is to call Arvin, my guy with the van. Having been trained in Germany, trying to do it myself here would drive my BP up high enough that my head would blow off.

  3. The unfortunate thing though - is that Filipinos, especially those that I meet in other countries, are beaming with pride when they say "If you can drive in Manila, you can drive anywhere..."

    Its like a book which Ive read - about a traffic engineer posing the question on what a safe driver truly is... *sigh*

    "Mali mali na nga, mayabang pa!!!"

  4. Driving here is really stressful. I hate driving; and the traffic volume plus the way many people drive in Metro Manila only make me hate driving even more. It reduces my so-called quality of living in Metro Manila. Lol. I wouldn't drive if I don't have to. Glad am leaving the country soon!

  5. I never got apprehended of any traffic violation in California in my 3 years of driving there. When I got back to Manila, I got flagged down by a "WAITING" traffic enforcer for "swerving", this was inspite of the rude buses that load and unload passengers at the middle lane of EDSA.

    It was a complete insult to my intelligence and to my 13 years experience as a motorist.

    What I did was reflective of my road experience in Manila, I respectfully cursed the guy and sped off.

    I will not allow myself to be apprehended by moronic scums who make a living by extracting bribes from ignorant motorists.

  6. This is an excellent tip: Don't involve your passengers in the driving process. I have seen this a lot, in lot of cities. Terrible!

  7. I feel that the best way to combat pilipino driving idiocy is the theory posted by Jason Ivler: a bullet to the head.

    Just don't tell mom.

    Or let Charles Darwin handle it.

  8. I have said over and over that if the Filipinos will only learn how to "really" drive then that nation will prosper eventually.

  9. Impose Euro IV compliant fuel and see 99% 0f jeepneys, buses and tricycles disappear. No more traffic, drastic reduction in air pollution, and fitter commuters.

  10. Have you ever been to other countries? Idiotic drivers are really found in any, IN ANY, country. Nough said.


Post a Comment

Popular this week

Does quality of leadership necessarily determine a society's ability to prosper?

Who fed P.Noy moronic information that he then used in his SONA?

Enough spin and bullshit: Measuring success and failure using key performance indicators

Why 33 Chilean miners are alive today while eight Hong Kong tourists remain dead