10 Times We Really, Really Hated Commuting in Metro Manila

Raise your hands, commute warriors!

commuting in Metro Manila
ILLUSTRATION War Espejo

(SPOT.ph) There’s a phrase that commuters in Metro Manila always relate to: "Papasok kang empleyado/estudyante, lalabas kang mandirigma." The joke, of course, was referring to how workers and students come out as warriors after battling their way through jam-packed MRTs and buses, the never-ending EDSA traffic, and other challenges along the way. It was as if the everyday commute is a video game, where you have to beat the boss at every level. Whether you’re using public transportation on a regular basis, weaving through traffic in your car or bike, or just plainly walking, there’s always something on our roads that can get on your nerves. 

Also read:
The 10 People You Meet on a Bus
10 Commute-Warriors You'd Always Spot on the MRT-3
A Day in the Life of a Metro Manila Commuter
10 Places on EDSA That Need "Build, Build, Build" for Pedestrians

Here are all the times we really, really hated commuting in Metro Manila:

Climbing a really, really, really high overpass 

commuting in Metro Manila
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A P10-million footbridge overpass soaring above EDSA some distance past the GMA - Kamuning Station—often referred to as "Mt. Kamuning"—is just one of the many pedestrian footbridges that pose a challenge to PWDs, the elderly, and the unfit. No one told us that commuting in Metro Manila was a warm-up for the Amazing Race

Spending three hours on the road just to get to work 

Quarantine restrictions forced most employees to work from home, and suddenly we got extra time on our hands. We don’t have to wake up at an ungodly hour just to avoid the morning rush hour (newsflash: turns out, we can’t ever avoid it); and spend hours on the road just to get to work. We suddenly have extra precious minutes for sleep, eating breakfast, hanging out with our loved ones, and stopping to smell the flowers. 

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Getting squished behind the doors of the MRT

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Any seasoned MRT rider knows that there’s that sweet spot between the coaches where it’s less crowded—sometimes. More often than not, you have no choice but to stand near the doors because there’s no way you can get through the angry pack of fellow riders. You just have to stay strong and get ready to be squished and pushed around as passengers get in and out of the train. 

Crossing the street patintero-style

Metro Manila’s roads have some of the weirdest pedestrian crossings. There are others that lead to elevated sidewalks, which we’re assuming you can get to by jumping Super Mario-style; a few that end up on concrete or metal barriers that possibly lead to a wormhole; and others that have uncoordinated traffic lights. Crossing our major roads is a life skill that a Metro Manila dweller should get a medal for. 

Sitting beside a pervert on the bus

commuting in Metro Manila
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You may have dealt with a pervert on the bus in one way or another: that man who pretends to graze your shoulder and linger there, or worse, brings out his dick right in front of you. Shout "manyak" as soon as he passes by and he would turn (reflexively) to look at you. 

Lining up for hours at the MRT station 

Most of us have been there: You clock out at work at five, hoping to beat the afternoon rush hour, only to find a really long line snaking all the way to the next block. After hours in the queue, you manage to reach the platform. You thank all the gods you know because a train is finally arriving, and you can definitely get in and go home—at least, that’s what you think. Surprise: It’s a skip train. 

Walking on a sidewalk that smells like pee 

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Despite the no-peeing signs and basic human decency, there are still men who like peeing on public walls and posts (like dogs). The result? Sidewalks where you have to hold your breath when passing through unless you want to smell the piss. 

Losing your phone on the train/bus/jeep

There’s always a big risk of losing your valuables when riding public vehicles. If you’re not careful, that passenger behind you may turn out to be a pickpocketer with fast hands; or that person who just rode the jeepney’s passenger seat may take out a small knife and ask for that phone you’ve been fiddling around with. Pro tip: Try to use your gadgets discreetly when in public. 

Being forced to get off the bus in the middle of a storm

It’s the worst when Murphy (of Murphy’s Law *ba-dum-tss*) decides to play with you in the middle of a storm during rush hour on a payday Friday. You finally get a bus after hours of waiting, only to be asked to get off because the engine broke down. So, you’re just stuck somewhere on EDSA during a heavy downpour and no hope of being able to hail a cab. 

Breathing in smog every day 

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Air quality in Metro Manila improved in March and April of 2020, which was around the time when movement was restricted, public transportation was suspended, and people were forced to stay home. But it quickly went back up as soon as quarantine restrictions were lifted in May 2020. This just goes to show how our transportation and industry players are reliant on fossil fuels, thereby increasing carbon emissions every single day. And if you regularly bike or walk around the city, chances are you’re just breathing in a lot of polluted air.

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