System of traffic

When I started “living” in Manila for my internship, one of the biggest changes I had to go through was getting used to such a great traffic congestion. Though I’ve experienced it to some degree in my province, being in the big city with all the people sort of suffocated me and consistently required me to be alive, alert, awake and enthusiastic (which was tough since I tended to space out).

Manila traffic sure is different from the one at home. Here are a few comparisons I’ve come up with:

  1. In my province, the 10 km distance can be traveled in 30 minutes or less riding public transportation. In Manila, it would take me two to three hours depending on the time I’m travelling. If it’s during the rush hour, I’d take longer.
  2. In my province, I rarely have to ride the bus (and that is the reason why I felt like a grown-up when I ride buses before). In Manila, buses are my ticket to everywhere.
  3. In my province, the bus conductor passes you twice – once to hand you a ticket, twice to collect your payment. In Manila, they pass by once to do both tasks. Since buses here are usually overloaded anyway, going back and forth would be extremely difficult.
  4. In my province, I fall asleep during commutes. In Manila, I don’t have the same luxury.
  5. In my province, I can walk wherever. In Manila, I can’t just do that.

Dealing with Manila traffic was challenging when I first started out, partly because of those reasons, but more so because I wasn’t used to the volume of people with me. Everyday, everyone is fighting for their spot in the bus and everyday, we would just let people in because we understand the struggles of getting to work. And no matter how sweaty and squished we become, we have no choice but to grin and bear it. On top of it all, I have to guard myself from being taken advantage of and from getting lost.

But, after a while, I got over my fears and that allowed me to have my one bus moment. (How? I’m trying to figure that out yet.)

I was heading to work earlier this morning, riding an EDSA bus. I was looking out the window, staring at the CRATE & BARREL sign to my top left. And then I looked at all the people. At this point, all the hunger games for travelling was starting to get monotonous.

I wondered… What started this ruckus in the first place? Why don’t the buses ever seem enough?

And the answer was quite an obvious one, I realized. There were just too many people and Manila was like a kettle, ready to blow. The problem doesn’t rely solely on the lack of transportation facilities or roads or skyways. Manila is just overpopulated, mostly by dreamers like me who hope to find a bright future out here.

Nothing will ever be enough because everyone in Manila requires more space than it can provide.

The system of traffic? We are the system of traffic.

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