The Art of Commuting in the Philippines and How to Endure it

I’m a professional commuter. I’ve been commuting almost all my adult life. I’ve traveled from Laguna to UST almost everyday in college and throughout all my 9 to 5 jobs, so it’s safe to say that I’ve stomached all kinds of traffic that Metro Manila can throw at me. But Philippine traffic is never constant. The only thing that’s unchanging with it is that it’s almost always bad. Factors like rain, Friday payday, and road construction can make it bad to unbearable. It also takes a lot of courage to drive in Manila traffic and I honestly don’t have the power for it.

MRT, Angkas, and Bus: Choose your Metro transportation

The daily commute can be really grueling and stressful but for people like me who don't have that much of a choice, it has to be soldiered on. To make your commuting life a little less traumatic, here are a few notes that you should live-by.

It takes a certain super power to go through Philippine traffic everyday

Pee First Before You Leave the House

Yes! This is very important so I’m putting this on top of everything else. Bad traffic can really get you stuck on the road for hours and the worst thing that could happen to you is when you really need to go to the toilet. If you’re not in-charge of your bladder, taking a trip to the toilet before you head out or ride the bus or van will save you the uneasiness of needing to go to the comfort room while on transit. You’ll thank me for this, trust me.

It only takes a few minutes difference for Philippine traffic to change from light to heavy so best to have an early start.

Leave Early

Like what I’ve mentioned earlier, Philippine traffic is never stable and one way to beat it is to have an early start. From my experience, a minute difference is such a huge thing when you’re passing the SLEX. If you have to leave an hour or two before your schedule, do so. It’s better to be extra early than freaking out because you’re going to be late. Time management is key in order not to waste your time and others’.

No seat, no problem. Sit on the floor. #commuterproblems

Entertain Yourself

If you’re waiting in-line at the bus terminal or already stuck in traffic, make the most of it. Bring a book to read or listen to an engaging podcast. You can also spend this time to write your To Do List, catch up with some friends via SMS, or play those phone games. Might as well have a good mindset than get frustrated the entire travel.

Always take care of your belongings when you commute. Unfortunately, there are a lot of not so nice people out there waiting to take advantage in cramped instances like this.

Girl Scout Ready

If you’ve been commuting for a long time, chances are you already know what to bring during your travel. Here’s a quick video on some essentials that I bring with me whenever I have to leave the house for a meeting in the Metro.

Gear Up

What you wear is always an important decision when you’re commuting. Some might consider the saying “tiis ganda” when it comes to wardrobe choices when going out, but when you have to jump from one vehicle to another while it’s raining, you might end up just regretting it. Wear something that would be easy for you to move around and be comfortable with. Also sport or bring something that would protect you from this country’s ever-changing climate like an umbrella, boots, handkerchief, and compact jacket or parka.

Make your COOTD (Commuter Outfit of the Day) work for you
Nope, I’m not going into the operating room, I’m getting ready to ride the Angkas.

Have a Good Playlist

If your phone has data connection and can access Spotify, it would be nice to have a good playlist to ease your stress because of Manila traffic. Destress by listening to your favorite tunes. It’s also a good time to discover new music to listen to. Listening to music will also prevent you to sleep. When you’re commuting alone, it’s not safe to sleep because you can get pick-pocketed. It’s always good to be careful.

Say “no” to hunger. Bring a snack when you commute, just make sure to not leave your trash inside the vehicle.

Bring Snacks

Sometimes, in order for you to make it to your appointment in the Metro, you give yourself no choice but to skip meals so you can leave early. Grab a cracker or if you still have time, make yourself a sandwich that you can bring with you and munch on inside the bus. But remember not to leave your trash in the vehicle. I always have a small bag of candies for “panawid gutom” moments. If your bag is also big enough, bring a tumbler of water to keep you hydrated. But keep in mind of your liquid intake. If you’re still far from your destination and you know that there’s no chance for a comfort room break, just take sips. No one wants a full bladder while stuck in traffic!

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