Stranded in the moment | Inquirer Lifestyle
MARK Parlade

Stranded in the moment

As the traffic situation in the city gets worse daily, Inquirer Lifestyle asked people what they considered their most horrendous traffic experience and how they deal with their daily commute.

The 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. To avoid the crowds, we left the stadium built on the riverbank before the opening ceremony ended. We found out soon enough that quite a number of people had a similar idea; plus the roads around the stadium were blocked for the Chinese President.


We departed the stadium a little before 10 p.m., and managed to get back to our hotel at 2:15 a.m. For over four hours, we just walked around and waited, sometimes sitting on the curb. We were also very hungry. The only food outlet open at that late hour was a bakery. We had bread and pastries for dinner. Streets were a wall-to-wall carpet of people.—Manny V. Pangilinan


One morning, it took me three hours to travel from Marikina to Taguig, which takes take less than an hour on really good days. It wasn’t raining and there was no reason for the traffic to be horrific. I learned my lesson that day after I arrived very late for a meeting. Now I never leave the house without checking Waze first.—Chris Santos


Pointless argument


Traffic sucked more than usual along Sucat one morning and I knew we were going to be late getting to my kid’s school. Usually it’s just a 20-minute, four-km drive but we’d already been on the road for 30 minutes and weren’t even halfway there. Not the type to sit things out, I thought of calling the Parañaque Traffic Management Office, like I already had (I was certain that jeepneys, waiting for passengers, were again taking up two lanes in front of Fourth Estate).


Me: “Good morning! Traffic along Sucat is moving slower than usual. Kanina pa kami rito at male-late na ang anak ko.”


TMO guy: “Pasensiya na po wala tayong magagawa diyan. ’Yong mga traffic enforcer po kasi ng PNCC priority nila ang South Super Highway kaya naiipit ang traffic sa Sucat. At saka masikip na po talaga yang kalsada at masyadong maraming sasakyan.”


MARK Parlade
MARK Parlade

Me: “Ok, wait, sir, but why don’t you focus on the things you can control like making sure your traffic enforcers in front of Fourth Estate are moving those jeeps that eat up two of the three lanes? Araw-araw ang sama ng bottleneck doon!” (Last time I called, I was told that a traffic enforcer had this under control; when I passed the area, there was no traffic enforcer in sight.)


TMO guy: “Ay, wala po tayong magagawa diyan kasi maraming matitigas ang ulo na driver na ayaw sumunod!”


I realized it was pointless talking to the guy and I didn’t want my son to see me have a low-EQ meltdown and hear me use bad words.


So, sticking to the things I could control, I told my kid we’d just have to leave home 15 minutes earlier than usual starting the next day.


I wonder what needs to happen to make our public service officials more proactive and empowered. I hate hearing “wala tayong magagawa” when all it may take is a little imaginative planning and consistency and vigilance in execution.


Thing is, it’s also a mind-set issue. First, they have to really care about the people they serve and hold themselves accountable for their jobs. Ewan.—Mark Parlade


The suffering masses


I don’t even know where to start. Everything is just chaotic nowadays. The traffic situation is getting worse. Work is affected because one is on the road for too long. These stupid government officials don’t even have the slightest idea how early we have to leave the house to make it to the office on time. Do they know how long it takes us to travel back home? What about family time? Nakaranas na ba silang maghintay ng sasakyan sa init ng panahon? O sa gitna ng baha at lakas ng bagyong ulan at hangin? There’s no efficient mass transport system, there’s corruption everywhere. And who suffers the most? The masses!—Ruby Gan


Horrendous traffic experience is anytime you want to go from Makati to Eastwood City during rush hour.—Dyn Bourret


I moved to Singapore in 2011. When I was still working in Manila, Edsa traffic and MRT rides were still tolerable. I used to commute (trike-jeep-train-bus) to/from work from Caloocan to BGC, but I never experienced three- to five-hour traffic jams along Edsa or the snake-long lines in train stations. The most horrendous was a two-hour jam northbound on Edsa Guadalupe back in 2010. It’s just weird/sad to see how Manila traffic got really awful in just three short years. I feel for my fellow commuters who are forced to go through this bad situation every day.—Dani Salasan


Alternative routes


My friends have had worse experiences but mine just happened recently in which commuting from BGC to Resorts World took about three hours. It was so bad that I had to leave the cab and walk from Villamor Bridge to Resorts World in the rain. It made me realize how bad traffic is in the country.—Carla Bianca Ravanes


Once it took me four hours to get to Edsa from Katipunan; it sure felt like an apocalypse of sorts.—Jenny Ferrer


When I was in college, I used to commute from my lola’s house in Bel-Air to UP Diliman. If I left something at home, I could still make it to Makati, have lunch and go back to school in less than two hours. This was in the mid-’80s to early ’90s. I don’t think this would be possible now, except perhaps if I ride the MRT.


When I worked in Makati from 2003 to 2010, I spent an average of three hours on the road from Quezon City to Makati, and vice versa.


It is more or less still the same now. I usually have an hour and a half allowance to go anywhere. Our kids study in the same city where we live and yet we allot an hour to an hour and a half for travel time.


MABEL Villarica-Mamba
MABEL Villarica-Mamba

I have learned to avoid major thoroughfares to reach my destination. I don’t think I have been in a traffic situation in recent memory horrendous enough for me to remember. Or maybe I have just been so used to it, I have learned to relax and keep my mind elsewhere while in traffic.


The width and length of major roads like Edsa and C5 remain the same and yet we have more and more vehicles on the road.


Building new peripheral and circumferential roads would help ease traffic. But what would lessen vehicles on the road is an efficient public transportation system and I think this is the priority of the present administration with additional MRT/LRT lines.


But public transportation also includes buses and this is where the problem lies. Is there a formula, strategic plan or scientific study that the LTFRB uses in the approval of bus franchises? Do they consider the available roads and the number of commuters versus the number of seats on the buses? I always wonder about this because I always see a lot of empty or half-empty buses on the road even during rush hour.


In the meantime, I believe what can help is the promotion of alternative routes using side and inner city streets. MMDA’s Christmas Lane was very helpful but they probably need to find another name for these routes so that it won’t sound seasonal. —Mabel Villarica-Mamba


Who should get fired


I travel from Parañaque to Ortigas Center for work. I use C5 in the morning and return via Edsa in the afternoon. Traffic has worsened and on some days, travel time one way could reach up to two and a half hours. On bad days, it stretches up to six hours. It usually happens during heavy downpours and when passing through certain areas where new overpasses are under construction.


JOHN Silva
JOHN Silva

I cope by avoiding rush-hour traffic though that’s not helpful anymore. I call in and say I’ll work from home.


Seeing long lines at the MRT angers me because we insult our workforce.


The people responsible for infrastructure expansion should be fired because they have clearly not kept pace with the needs of a growing economy.


The President must step into this. He cannot sustain his vaunted economic progress if there are no new roads. Eliminate private bus companies and have one government-run company. Buses and jeeps are the culprits whenever they stop wherever they want.


There’s an increase in the number of highway patrol motorcycles with government-plated cars behind them. These motorcycles have flashing lights that allow them to bypass the traffic. There may be no sirens, but we are upset again that they can avoid the mess. It’s the same old malarkey again.


We should get all government officials from P-Noy down to try the LRT, MRT and buses during rush hour for a week. Let’s see them feel the masses’ pain.—John Silva


My most horrendous traffic experience of late was on Aug. 6 when I spent two and a half hours to get to Makati—a mere eight kilometers away from my Parañaque home.


To decrease congestion, I suggest that the government do the following: Catch colorum vehicles.


KAREN Alparce- Villanueva
KAREN Alparce-Villanueva

Stagger road construction schedules.


Require evening construction work for major thoroughfares.


Give incentives for carpooling of four or more passengers.


Encourage work from home arrangements.—Karen Alparce-Villanueva




I have never had really miserable traffic experience because I live 10 seconds away from my main workplace. I keep a home office/studio. Maybe once or twice a week, I will string together all my meetings in Makati and set out for a whole day’s worth of chat-ups.


In traffic, though (since I don’t have a driver), I just listen to my favorite music tracks and zone out (just enough to be able to manage to drive well). Or with a headset, I would do all my “phone meetings” with my team.


BRIAN Tenorio
BRIAN Tenorio

I remember years back I used to have a driver and a big van. I’d have meetings as we drove from Makati to Quezon City. It helped that the seats faced each other.


My major suggestion to get things done is to telecommute. Work from another location and send stuff on the Internet. Just get yourself and your colleagues used to working via Skype, videoconferences, e-mails and other work-sharing apps.


My second suggestion: Set up a home office. I can’t run out of things to add to my list of joys working from a home studio. When I restarted my business in 2013, I had the option of setting up an office in Makati, Ortigas, or even Manila.


But I am thoroughly happy in Marikina. After work, I just go out for a quick jog at Ateneo. Sure, there are a lot of distractions, but you just have to learn how to not get distracted.” —Brian Tenorio


Future looks bright if…


I used to feel lucky since my office is quite near to where I live. From my house in Ayala Alabang the travel time to my office in Sucat, Parañaque, was a mere 15 minutes, until about five years ago.


My average driving time to and from work since then is now around 30 minutes. This average does not count Fridays or the deadly combination of Friday, payday and rainy day, which could reach up to an hour.


I know this example is a small inconvenience compared to the horrendous traffic many people go through. I am merely speaking in relative terms that my travel time has doubled because the in-migration toward the South has accelerated the past five years with very little infrastructure complement.


Last September, my brother invited my family to dinner in Greenhills. Coming from Alabang, we gave a travel time allowance of one and a half hours. But one and a half hours later, we were only in Magallanes! We ended up having dinner somewhere in Makati.


On a positive note, my travel time to our Batangas project sites such as Punta Fuego, Terrazas de Punta Fuego, Playa Calatagan and Playa Laiya have improved tremendously. The Ternate-Nasugbu highway sliced about 30 minutes, and the Ibaan Exit at the Star Tollway, now connected to SLEX, has cut my travel time by one hour!


There was actually a study by Dr. Iwata Shizuo from Jica on the “Transport Infrastructure in Mega Manila,” conducted in consultation with Neda, DPWH, DOTC and MMDA where the road map from 2016 to 2030, including priority and dream projects, were laid out.


This considers all aspects that needs to be addressed, which includes but is not limited to the three major urban problems in Metro Manila: transport, land use and environment, as they relate to traffic congestion, natural disasters and the seemingly uncontrollable growth of slum areas and affordable housing demand.


Included in this plan is the development of highways and railways that are designed to decongest Mega Manila and connect to Regions 3 and 4A. If and when implemented, the average travel time from, say, San Fernando, Pampanga, or Calamba, Laguna, to the heart of Manila will be no more than 45 minutes.


With this plan are the redevelopment of ports and the transfer of our current international airport to Sangley Point, Cavite.


Sangley Point can accommodate around four runways, much bigger than Naia. The current airport can be sold for trillions of pesos to fund the development of a new airport. The future looks bright!


JIE Pambid
JIE Pambid

The only question is, does the government (or the next) have the political will to get this done?”—Alfred S. Xerez-Burgos III


I usually get stuck in traffic coming from Market! Market! to C5 and then to Bagong Ilog toward Pasig where I live. This is also the route I take in reverse when I go to work. I was stuck in traffic on C5 when there was an eight-car collision because of a wayward truck. I was immobile two hours. Normally, such as trip would take me only 20 minutes.


Ironically, I do all my best thinking when I’m stuck in traffic. I am not a techie so that means no laptops and no phone apps; I use an old-fashioned notebook and sketch pad to write or draw all my ideas down. I usually also keep my cool by eating my baon, which, because of the number of times I have been stuck, is now a staple every time I leave the house.


I am biased. I hate the trucks! I think they’re bullies on the road and I wish to see a more definitive schedule when they should be allowed on the road, preferably when there is less traffic on the road.


I also think that bus routes should be scheduled and timed. This would mean fewer buses on the road and it will also teach commuters to be on time for their buses.”

—Jie Pambid