Welcome to Manila. If you intend to live here, it's important you quickly adapt yourself to our local practices. You'll probably find some of them quaint -- in particular the driving. The following anonymously written guide, which has been floating around the Internet for years, is by no means complete. There's nothing about jeeps, taxis, tricycles and buses. Nor about floods funeral corteges, quadruple parking, sideswiping and automatic gunfire. But, suitably edited, it can serve as an introduction to the delights of motoring in Manila.
How to address Filipino drivers
When greeting a Filipino driver, slowly lower your window and be prepared to greet the driver with: "Tang namo, bobo". However, if you have been already addressed by a fellow driver, reply with a joyful "Tang namo rin, gago".
If a driver in another lane turns on the turn signal, do not let him go into your lane. In fact, press the accelerator and start driving right next to him/her. The fellow driver will probably greet you and you already know the correct response.
These amusing artifacts hang from intersections for no apparent reason. Sometimes you will see drivers stop to see the colors change on these lights (a fascinating experience). Government officials (specifically police) believe that each color stands for an instruction for drivers to follow.
- Yellow light: accelerate
- Red light: only five to six cars are allowed to go through.
- Green: reduce speed, wait for the five to six cars passing through their respective red lights.Tip: the time to start honking your horn, from the moment the light turns green is 1.5 seconds.
Changing lanes has been elevated to an art form in the Philippines. First of all, no matter what you do, never turn on your turn signal or otherwise you'll stimulate the reaction described above. Second, swerve your car uncontrollably to the lane you want to change to, preferably so that you end up within inches of a car in that lane. At this point a greeting from the other driver may be in order. To perfect your change of lanes, reduce the speed of your car dramatically in a matter of seconds and you will see an action packed reaction from the car behind you.
Traffic jams teem with fun filled activities such as:
- Honking your horn rhythmically.
- Putting on make-up (usually female drivers only)
- Reducing speed to watch whatever is causing the traffic jam. Add excitement by trying to see if you know the parties involved. (note: every Filipino driver is obliged to do this)
- Greeting other drivers.
- Practicing lane changing.
- Playing the game: Let's see how close I can get to you before rear-ending you.
These individuals are an annoyance to the Filipino driver. If you see them in your way, accelerate your car to let them know who's the boss. If you are at an intersection, let the pedestrians know you want to proceed by accelerating your car and honking at the last possible moment.
The three-lane change
This movement requires a lot of precision and creativity. It should be done around the highest number of cars possible and in a matter of seconds to create what others may refer to as widespread panic.
Smart driving tip
When the lanes going in your direction are jammed with cars, try using the lanes from the oncoming traffic. They are probably not occupied anyway because the oncoming cars are stuck as well.
How many of the other direction's lanes should you occupy? As long as there are lanes from the other direction to occupy, go ahead and take more lanes. This move is sure to elicit previously mentioned greetings from drivers of the oncoming cars (and some have been known to get down from their cars to personally deliver the greeting to the out of lane driver). Nine times out of 10 times it's sure to make the traffic worse but then, hey, that means you have a 1 in 10 chance that you might actually get through sooner than all those law-abiding losers. Filipino drivers think that that 1 in 10 chance is reason enough to risk their life and limb and being profusely greeted (besides, you can always turn up the windows and pretend that you don't hear the greeting from the other drivers).