Metro Manila is impossible to navigate without public transport. Cars have been rendered Schrödinger’s vehicles, where, really, you have no idea if you are going to get to where you are going on time whenever you get in.
Yet cars—in their iterations as privately owned vehicles, taxis, Grab or Uber—are also necessary to get to exactly where you are going in a single trip, useful when you are traversing a long distance.
Truth is, one has to maximize the madness. Public transportation in the Metro is an insane mess of different routes and forms, but using this insane mess is the only way to ensure you can get to where you’re going when you want to get there.
So you graft one form to another. One of my staple commutes involves the following, in order: a jeepney ride, an MRT ride, a brief walk, an LRT-2 ride and then a tricycle ride.
The alternative is to borrow a car (might get stuck in traffic), take a cab (a horrific experience that can rob one of self-esteem) or take an Uber or Grab (once a miraculous option, now burdened with its own baggage such as picky drivers who cancel after a wait or simply ignore you completely).
Switching requires having a map of the city and a listing of public transport in your head, as well as coins and small change (you try making a cabbie give you exact change, I dare you) and a Beep card on you at all times.
Switching from one mode to another on a single trip is something that seems daunting, but is done by many Filipinos every day. Despite the hassle and the physical exertion this method requires, it is the only way to really get around the biggest fear I have when it comes to coming and going in the city: getting trapped in a place I don’t want to be in, with no escape.