Kuligligs are really a simple issue

I just recently came across the term "kuliglig". It refers to a motorised pedicab -- a pedicab fitted with some kind of small gasoline-powered motor normally used for motorising small boats. It's another one of those instances of "Pinoy ingenuity", I suppose. A modern-day jeepney-style "adaptation" to the chronic dire situation that is the Philippine condition. These vehicles are flat-out illegal. But like that other renowned Filipino lifestyle -- squatting (which is also illegal) -- operating kuligligs had recently become the latest fodder for the quaint ululations of Filipino populism.

After being allowed to proliferate, true to the usual moronic form of Philippine administrative mediocrity, there is now a proposal to "ban" them from Manila's streets. Of course the whole nonsense of "banning" something that is illegal to begin with simply escapes the typical vacuous mind of the Filipino. But then there it is, and here are the issues at stake:

(1) Regulation of kuligligs.

That certainly makes sense (within the frame of Pinoy sensibilities) -- regulating an illegal activity is even more idiotic than the concept of "banning" it.

(2) Kuligligs as means of livelihood.

Proliferation of kuligligs is blamed on "a lack of jobs". Sure. That's like tolerating corruption and thievery on the basis of civil servants' being underpaid. Fact is, kuligligs make Manila an even stinkier shithole than it already is. And tourists and businessmen don't like taking their business into shitholes. And when you don't have businesses proliferating in said shithole, the shit in said hole becomes even stinkier. Simple, right?

But then this is the Philippines, where all the wrong arguments win and what are really simple issues become, well, convoluted shit fights.


  1. I was going to write on this, but you covered it a lot more succinctly than I probably would have. Jinggoy Estrada, demonstrating the ingenuity of that other Pinoy oddity, the Senate, was one of the ones parroting all those specious reasons for even giving kuligigs a second thought. (n.b., I think the word is the sound they make "ku-lig-lig-lig-lig")

    I had to wonder, which ingenuity was he talking about: the ability to jerry-rig some kind of device, or the ability to dodge any law or shred of commons sense?

  2. I think all of the above. The Philippines is the emergent outcome of all forms of Pinoy "ingenuity". When I googled kuliglig, what came out were pictures of what I think are rice threshers that can be geared to self-propel (most likely so that they can be moved from one plot to another easily). I used to see a lot of these contraptions in my childhood on our way to Baguio or Pangasinan. Kinda weird that the same word is now being used for this modern-day insult to the automotive engineering profession.


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