Sidewalks in the Philippines: A Myth

I’m talking about “real” sidewalks where you could actually walk without fearing for your safety.

In the Philippines, there’s all forms of public transportation for very short up to the very long distances. From the trisikad (cycle rickshaw) that could transfer you for a few blocks, to jeepneys (which Timmy wrote about here), to the universally-recognized taxis and buses and trains, Filipinos never run short of choices of public utility vehicles. They’re relatively cheap as well. Yet, the public vehicles do not come near outnumbering the private-owned cars congesting our small roads (Congrats to the car companies, I guess?).

All these said, your average Juan does NOT really walk lots in an ordinary day. But these factors are not the only reason why. For one, it could get really humid and hot especially during the summer and nobody wants to walk then. When it’s not hot though, Filipinos would still rather not walk in the sidewalk because WHAT SIDEWALK ARE YOU FREAKIN’ TALKIN’ ABOUT?!

Sidewalks “do not” exist in the Philippines. At least, they’re usually not used in the way they are supposed to. Of course, this is against the law. But nothing is really illegal in our homeland unless somebody calls you out on it. That’s how we abuse love our freedom and democracy.

Instead of being used for walking, sidewalks are used for:

-parking spaces,

-putting up stalls for vendors,

-extensions of houses/properties for home/property owners who probably forgot the fact that sidewalks are public domains,

-dumpsite for trash,

-roads where motorcycles (and even actual cars) rage on when they think that traffic regulations don’t apply for them

…and so on and so forth.

Yes, sidewalks are used for a variety of ways instead of their intended purpose: a space where people could use their legs for locomotion without being obstructed or being hit by a reckless driver.

sidewalk-motorcycles-2
Every day scene #1 (source)
sidewalk-motorcycles-1
Every day scene #2 (source)
sidewalk-motorcycles
This actually happened in Indonesia but any Metro Manila resident wouldn’t know the difference…(source)

And because we have narrow and poorly-lit sidewalks (in places where they actually “exist”) , mugging and other street crimes commonly happen in these public domains. I’m not really sure which is the cause and which is the effect here, but I don’t think it matters now where the circle begins or ends (oh, I love being philosophical and pretending I’m smarter than all of you sidewalk abusers). Abysmal sidewalks and street crimes in the Philippines go together like a morbidly obese person and a supermarket scooter (but that is for another cultural differences post that Timmy wants me to write).

sidewalk-fat-lady-on-a-scooter
Saw people on scooters in the supermarket a couple of times the first week I’m here in America. Really, the Philippines needs to copy this asap! (source)

I wish someday the sidewalks could be cleaned up for pedestrians in my homeland. I’m even willing to sacrifice not seeing the usual fish ball, kwek-kwek, and other street foods stalls characteristic in Phillipine sidewalks ever again…I think.

sidewalk
Any true homegrown Filipino would recognize this. (source)
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