traffic analysis

Saturday, June 13, 2009


My Canadian friend, Lew, who has lived here in Manila for the past four years has some interesting insights on us Pinoys.

"Martin, you Filipinos use your friendliness as an excuse for your inefficiency" Lew said one evening we were drinking beers in Malate. He then continued to relate how he had to endure red tape at one government office, spending the whole day in that same office. He claimed all the clerks/staff were smiling and being friendly with him, and chatting with him throughout his official business there. And I said, "That's because you're white, Lew". And he again said, "No, I think you're all just smiling to compensate for your inefficiency" apparently Lew had accomplished little despite spending the whole day there.

A few months later, Lew had changed his mind on the whole Pinoy-friendly issue. "Filipinos are not friendly, you're all rude!" Lew had a scheduled appointment that morning at 8 am, which his client had set (ditto the meeting place). As Canadian as Lew can get, he arrives at the designated meeting place 5 minutes earlier. After some 10 minutes pass and his client hadn't shown up, nor texted, nor called -- Lew decides to call her instead. She then gives this lame excuse that she forgot to set her alarm or something and Lew screams on the phone "You get your ass over here! Now! I made it! You should!" The client appears within 30 min.

Lew has other examples of how rude we Filipinos are: we all know about Manila drivers, don't we? But he also cites everyday instances like how people don't give way to those exiting the MRT before they board, or how people stop at the foot of escalators knowing full well that there's a bunch of others following them, or how people don't move to the side in malls when they meet friends and decide there and then to chat causing a traffic jam, or how people don't cue properly in supermarkets. And the list goes on...

Courtesy apparently escapes the majority of us. These are not the less fortunate Pinoys Lew is talking about. These are educated, mall-going, middle-class Pinoys.

I tend to agree with Lew. I felt the same thing when I first moved down to Manila. My fellow Baguio-mates will agree that in this big city, people are a bit ill-mannered. I'm not even going to tell you about Lew's take on Pinoy's lack of respect for personal space.

But then again, Lew has only been exposed to Metro Manila -- I keep telling him to go out of the city. Go up North where people are genuinely friendly and there's free marijuana. Or go down south where people are genuinely friendly and genuinely tanned.

One more thing, Lew sez Filipinos use the word 'actually' way too much. You know what, I actually believe him.


  1. Hey Marts,

    Actually, this is a good post, ha....matayak....

  2. thanks Kat... and congratulations for being the first to post a comment! you get a special prize...

    my enduring, unwavering, loyal, friendship. Do you have a website? Want me to blog about it? Do tell. Cheers!

  3. my pet peeve is those stopping at the foot of the escalators and then chat. kumusta naman di ba?