The Wheel and Axle

Manila Love/Hate

by on Jun.29, 2014, under My Life, Travel & Culture

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So I’ve been based outside of Metro Manila for about a month, with weekends generally reserved for dropping by. I would have thought that it would take me so much more time to getting used to living outside the capital (or thereabouts), but surprisingly, I’ve adjusted quite well – and the last couple of weekends have shown me why.

A couple of Saturdays back, it took me 50 minutes to get from Clark to Balintawak… and another 50 minutes to get from Balintawak to Taguig.

Last Thursday, as we experienced heavy rains across the country, I was in Angeles City. The rains were strong, but it was comforting. Then I read through my Facebook newsfeed about the usual horror stories of flooding and horrendous traffic at that very moment. People being on the road for five or six hours, stranded, may already feel normal for Manileños, but that night in the heavy rains I got to work in Clark in less than ten minutes.

Yesterday, coming from Taytay and going to Shangri-La Mall in Mandaluyong, it took me almost two hours. It would normally be half an hour to forty with moderate traffic. The Cainta/Pasig area in Ortigas Extension was at a snail’s pace. Then, the universe lulled me into a sense of hope when we passed that gridlock and drove smoothly through Rosario and right by Libis and Medical City. Lo and behold, it took me 45 minutes to get from Metrowalk to Shangri-La: usually a 5-minute drive. I would’ve walked, except the heat was atrocious and I had no desire to go to a book-signing event looking even less fresh than I already was.

And yes, the heat is another thing I do not miss. In Angeles, in Clark, it gets quite hot, yes, but it doesn’t get this dirty, icky hot. I blame the pollution and overly-congested urban landscape of Metro Manila.

I definitely still love Manila, and I will always visit. Probably every weekend or so. But some things you just don’t miss, and now I understand why so many folks prefer accepting jobs in other places like Cebu, Davao, Dumaguete, and Clark.

I understand now why Filipinos outside the capital find the Manila-centric attitude of the government head-shaking. There is still so much opportunity outside of Metro Manila, and if the government invests more beyond the capital, much like private BPOs have been doing, I think there’s a much better chance for this country to further develop.

Update: I’m back working in Metro Manila as of late 2015.

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