Saturday, April 16, 2011

A little bit of our Filipino life: Transportation

U.S. Countdown
11 days
Transportation in the Philippines. What could we say about the transportation in the Philippines? Quite a bit, actually. Hence the reason we've dedicated an entire blog to the subject.
I guess the best place to start with this subject would be the traffic laws. As we mentioned in our previous blog El Nido Burrito, there is only one traffic law in this country. Motorcycle drivers need to wear a helmet, that's it. With traffic laws like these (or lack thereof) it opens the door for many different types of vehicles.
We'll start from slowest to fastest. Firstly, walking. This is the transportation of most of the people we come in contact with. Doesn't matter how young, how old, or how much they are carrying. We once were at a school for a feeding program, and we asked the kids roughly how far they had to walk to get to school that morning. We learned that most of them traveled 2km to and from school EVERYDAY. Some of them have to leave at 4:30am, but an education is worth that much to them. Walking is the easiest and cheapest form of transportation, and they don't mind doing it to get from A to B
Next would be the Caribou. Not exactly the fastest method of transportation…in fact at times, it's probably slower than walking. But it definitely beats having to carry everything and walk on foot. Most times, they ride the actual caribou, but often you'll see little sled-like trailers hooked up behind one. We really enjoy watching the Filipinos ride their caribous all over the place. Its pretty entertaining. Allison actually rode behind a caribou, "Once you got pass the horrible smell, it wasn't that bad." lol.
Next, the Kalig-lig. This contraption is definitely one of the weirdest and most creative Filipino inventions we've seen to date. Its pretty much, a motor that is attached to a pair of wheels and then they hook a trailer on it and called it transportation. Now, the motor is not very powerful and most Kelig-ligs go about the same speed as the average walker but it beats having to carry 3 bags of rice and 4 small children on foot. The amazing thing is these are allowed on the roads. Even the national highway is crawling with these things. If you don't like it, you pass it.
Now, the motorcycle. Many of you have heard of motorcycles and have probably ridden on one before. But Filipino style is a little different. Here in the Philippines we would compare a motorcycle to a 4-door Honda Civic.
Motorcycles can comfortably fit a family of 4 and if you're feeling ambitious we've seen up to 8 on a motorcycle at one time. Its crazy, but true. Also, since ladies here tend to wear skirts quite a bit and sometimes a motorcycle is their only mode of transportation, they will ride side saddle. We've tried riding side saddle before…its no easy task. 
We've also ridden on a motorcycle with more than 2 people. It was a bit challenging but overall a lot of fun. Here is a video we took while riding with Michel. Granted the shots aren't that great, but the dialogue is quite entertaining.

Now if a motorcycle is like a 4-door Honda, then the Tricycle is the Filipino mini van. These vehicles are also extremely creative. Its basically a little metal box with a wheel and you attach it to your motorcycle. 
They are extremely common here in the Philippines. When we first arrived here, Allison looked at those tricycles and she said, "I have to ride in one of those before I leave here." One week later, her wish came true. 
Though we would see it as 2, maybe 3, extra seats, the Filipinos of course see it as about 10 extra. We've seen them cram about 12 people in one of these little trics. It was amazing really. Sometimes if theres no room, people ride on top. Is that safe? you may ask. Probably not, but its a faster way to get from A to B; so they make it work.
Next would be the Jeepneys. Though these are not as common around the Brookes Point area, we've seen them quite a bit during our travels in the Philippines. Jeepneys are more like a bus service here, except they cram people in like sardines. For example, when we were in  Mindanao we had to ride a Jeepney to get to MVC. We got there and were informed that the Jeepney would only leave when it was full. So we waited, after we had 24 people inside and we were all crammed together we asked the driver if we could leave, he replied that it still wasn't full enough. In the end we had about 40 people in that jeepney, a couple more fit inside (with all kids under the age of 12 sitting on laps) and most riding outside the jeepney or riding on top. 
Lastly, would be the vehicles. We see very few, especially around the Brookes Point area. Our project has one, and whenever we have to transport people….it becomes a bus. We joke, because seriously EVERYTIME we fill the truck we say, "Wow, this is the fullest its ever been." The next week, we'll fill it even more. It's amazing how many people you can transport when they don't mind being smooshed together like a can of sardines and don't mind where they have to ride. Filipinos DEFINTELY give a whole new meaning to, "If it fits, it ships." Most times when we transport people they will sit in the back, even if they cab is empty. They feel more comfortable out in the open. It always amazes us, when they do ride in the cab, because they have no knowledge of how anything works. If we forget to roll their window down, they will sit there and sweat. They have no idea how to roll down the window. Most times, we have to open and shut the door for them too. Because they've never seen anything like it before. They don't know how it works. It's crazy. 
Some of the rules of driving are interesting as well. Though, they do post speed limits on the side of the road, they're more like guidelines as oppose to actual rules. The speed limit is basically however fast your vehicle/comfort level will let you go. Also, the horn is used frequently. But not as a rude gesture that's usually followed by some obscene hand motion as it is in the States. You use the horn to tell someone that you're passing them, or to let them know you are there (kinda what the horn was invented for...imagine that).
So this is how the transportation system works in the Philippines. Very simple, very efficient, VERY crammed, and in most cases VERY fast. We're nervous to jump in the driver seat in the States....its gonna be a little bit of an adjustment. lol.
~Me and Her


Wendy said...

Priceless video! I'm still laughing! Wow, I miss Palawan. . . and Michel! And you two!!!

Post a Comment