Monday, 24 September 2007

Because One Just Wasn't Enough

This is a common problem throughout all of metro Manila.

Sidewalks, when there are any, are often too narrow to be of any real use or blocked by a preponderance of poles carrying what seem to me to be way too heavy a load of wires. Some of the wires even hang down so low they almost touch the traffic passing below.

If it isn't an immovable, like the utility poles, it is the movable not knowing how to do so. On a sidewalk (or any walkway, for that matter) that can comfortably fit three people across, you will inevitably find three people walking towards you. Walking three abreast, of course! Ninety percent of the time, if one or more are men, it is they who will drop back allowing you to pass. If all three are women there is a seventy percent chance they will bump or bounce into you as they are completely unaware of the inability for said walkway to accommodate four persons across. It is a bit like those robotic vacuums

that bump into walls and furniture, spin around, and head off in another direction to clean more floorspace you are too lazy to get off the sofa and do yourself. Of course, the same behavior is seen in flies, ants, and other insects.

I realize that this may offend large numbers of readers, but it is something I have found to be all too true.

"Surely, those are just isolated incidents and you are overreacting", you say.

If only that were the case.

I have been noticing this for several months now, and it isn't getting any better.

It could have something to do with most of the people not being drivers. Drivers usually...usually...know which side of the road to drive on here. That doesn't mean it isn't common for you to see vehicles coming right at you on the street. But I digress... Drivers tend to walk on whichever side of a walkway they'd normally drive on on a road, thus leaving a clear path for oncoming pedestrians. That rule, that general courtesy, that sense of common-sense efficiency doesn't seem to apply in these cases. Just as the robotic vacuum can't see the walls, furniture, pets or people in the room, neither can these people see others walking right at them!

Some of it is due to text messaging. Pedestrians are so preoccupied with their texting they often run into or trip over things. I have been the unseen target of such. My fitness instructor, Bryant, noticed the bruise left on my arm after one such incident. I (and untold numbers of pedestrians and motorists alike) should be thankful they weren't driving!

It all gives good reason to heed Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken, and choose the "one(s) less traveled by" when making one's way around metro Manila.


_davenport_ said...

yay:0 ..nakakahiya.. alam mo pare figuring out the pinoys is like applying chaos theory to solve an arithmatic classic of 1 + 1.

cheers! nice musing..

Balty said...

Hi, Jay,

That is the difference between Filipino and Japanese men. Here, in the Philippines, it is expected that men will ALWAYS give way to women, whether on the sidewalk, in LRT (give your seat to them), or even on the road (have you tried riding on a vehicle driven by a woman?). So, if you see three women walking towards you, you should stop walking, make a "sideview", and say, "I'm sorry" as they pass by. Or else, look behind you, get off the sidewalk, and pray you don't get sideswept by a passing car, a motorcycle, or a pedicab.

Perhaps that is why Japanese women would love to have Filipino men as husbands.

Jay said...

Yes, that would be nice if the majority of the sidewalks I traverse weren't the fenced-in types! There's no way anybody could ever get off the sidewalk to allow another person to pass.

I'm speaking of the impossible situations here...the fenced-in sidewalks, hallways, grocery aisles, etc. where conduct like you mention is physically impossible and common sense has to take over.