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Comments On Driving In The Philippines

Since I wrote my comments on driving in the Philippines, I never thought I would try to drive in the Philippines myself. I have driven with others, foreigners and Filipinos, taken taxis, more often and when I was first here in Cebu always took jeeps. But I have a bit of a back problem so I went to taxis for more headroom. But I have to pick one of the larger model cars. Some the taxis have very little headroom certainly not enough for my 6'2" body.

In a fit of madness and when a friend told me about this "wonderful car for sale a 1983 Toyota, nothing to fix," for only about USD 1,000. So I bought it to see what driving in the Philippines was like for me. I have driven in many countries over the years and decided I would like to just try it here. So I bought the Toyota. Then I put about USD 1, 000 into fixing it. Used cars are expensive here compared to the States and driving is tricky to say the least. I will only drive very early in the morning or short distances. Traffic in Cebu City is hard to drive in, very slow. But I knew that from the taxis and Jeepneys. From what I read below it is much easier to drive in smaller cities, of course, but rush hour traffic is a problem. I should point out many of the smaller cities do not have taxis and the busses are used only from city to city, except for a few in big cities that are local busses. They do have vans now, V-hires that cost more than busses in Manila for Metro Manila travel and in the smaller places for travel from town to town. These are very comfortable and but more expensive than the jeeps, but still cheap by US standards.

Here are some comments about driving in the Philippines and driving in certain Philippine cities.

1.) I like the walking part if the beggars will leave me alone. Vehicles used here often are two small for my big frame. I've seen guys a lot bigger than me too. They usually have a driver and a car. I think you should take busses, Jeepneys, tricycles, and walk.

I think the main suggestion on the website and this group is for People who are going to come here and drive with know idea what the Traffic conditions are, "not to". I drive here, but very seldom get the car out to drive around town, scooter is much better, but I drive to Vigan, San Fernando, Baguio and to Manila, once at the hotel I get taxis till returning. but I wouldn't recommend anyone to arrive here for the first time with the idea of renting a car to go touring, certainly the lack of enforcement of the rules is a problem and the fact that lights are optional at night has given me a few good moments. I quote from somewhere or other on the internet "the good thing about driving is the Philippines is that signs are just suggestions." My experience is no one will wait for you to go, but they will always let you in when you go.

2.) I have driven in Manila a number of times, and drive in Baguio every day. You need to remember that the person behind you always watches the one in front, as you also concentrate on watching the car ahead. Do not be intimidated, and drive like Filipinos do  if you see a space fill it before someone else does!

Keep checking your side mirrors if you think others are crowding you, and keep your nerve. After a while it'll become second-nature. read on www.livinginthephilippines.com that a foreigner shouldn't attempt to drive a car in the Philippines. I agree and I think it is forbidden for a foreigner to drive in Manila. That place is crazy. However, I drive in Dipolog every day. So do many other expats. Maybe you have never been to Dipolog, but let me tell you it is pretty crowded Monday thru Saturday. Sunday's traffic is low.

What it takes is a little patience and the knowledge that no one wants to be in an accident. Motor cab drivers are rude and think they can bully their way through, but my Corolla is one of the big ones (1981) and an automatic. I just inch my way through intersections where there are no signs or any other controls. If I will beat them to the opening they stop.

I drive with my left foot on the break always. The trick is not to go to fast and always be prepared to stop. People will pass you on both sides and even when you are turning. I have learned to watch behind me for speeding motorcycles when I make turns.

I see motorcycle accidents quite often. It is too bad they don't get tough on those people. They need to learn some rules. Some of it is drinking Tuba in the mornings. I have many drunkards right outside my apartment at the two cantinas.

3.) I'm not sure the website was clear about that, but your idea is good. I always take proactive precautions and I sometimes take a motor cab instead of driving. It's the parking problem. Also, the wind blowing in your face when in a motor cab feels pretty good around here.

I definitely don't drive at night much and I wouldn't even try to drive in Manila. I even try to avoid driving in the rain.

--Being a foreigner whenever you get in an accident it's always your fault.

--Evan with a "reputable" insurance company getting a claim settled here is a nightmare.

--Traffic rules are rarely enforced or followed here.

This has not been my experience. My wife was driving our car a few weeks ago; I was in the front passenger seat and our daughter in the back. In good time my wife signaled a right turn into the narrow lane leading to our daughter's school and was 2 feet from the kerb. She had checked her mirrors before signalling. As she turned a solo motorbike with pillion passenger attempted to overtake on the nearside (the right). He hit the front of the car knocking off the car skirt/side valance and denting and scratching the front wing and door. The mirror was also broken. A small crowd gathered, including a Poso. All agreed the accident was the fault of the motorbike rider and the Poso asked if we wanted to file a complaint. We didn't as the only damage we'd immediately noticed was the skirt/valance being knocked off and I could fix that. On to the insurance claim. It was settled without any delay on the part of the Insurance company (AVIVA).

The thing is - no one is going to hit your car on purpose but there does seem to be a big game of "Chicken" going on. I suspect that I could learn to drive there. The worst place that I ever drove in was Boston and after a while I was like a native.

 

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