Fact: Metro Manila is one of the busiest and most dangerous places to drive in. Fact: I have very very very recently learned how to drive. Fact: It is only a matter of time before I hit something. Fact: At around 5:20 pm today, I hit something. Fact: It was a truck.
|My poor, poor Jibby. Betch-slapped by a truck! Y'all should've seen him before they put his "cheek" back in. The side was ripped back like the top of a sardine can.|
Now, for one to be a proficient driver in Metro Manila, they should be used to the following:
1. Trucks, buses, cabs, private vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles, jeepneys and pedestrians pretty much share lanes. I mean, there are designated lanes, but to some drivers they are merely random colored lines on the road.
2. There are pedestrians that follow the rules, and there are pedestrians that don't. Manila has quite a high population of the latter. It's almost like they're playing capture the flag and it's humans vs. vehicles.
3. Parking's great in Metro Manila, you can park anywhere—even if it means that both sides of the street have parked cars and your car has to majorly suck it in to get through...
4. People DO drive drunk. I've seen it, and I'm ashamed to say I've let it happen, even enabled...
Don't get me wrong, there are good drivers in Metro Manila, but after seeing friends, family and various hired drivers bend the rules from time to time, I still became unsure about whether I wanted to drive here at all. I mean, the Pwede na (translates roughly to whatever, that'll do, that's fine) mentality scares me. The truth hurts, and the truth is that we all have the capability of completely disregarding the rules if no one's looking or if we can get away with it anyway, especially when we drive, both drunk or sober. No U-turn? Well, whatever... Vrrrooom. or Five shots and three cocktails? Psh, please, who else needs a ride? It's a mentality so ingrained in us, it's scary to be on the road. It's like being the only sober driver on a busy freeway full of drunk ones.
Plus, I love commuting. Riding public transpo is always an adventure. The view changes everyday. It's weird because I feel more productive when I commute. I love having to walk to platforms, and switch trains and pay for tickets and people-watch.
Plus, I mean, I can't even ride a bike...
None of that mattered because a couple of months ago, my Mom put her foot down. She already paid for the lessons.
I was going to learn how to drive.
Lessons went well enough. The instructor even said I was a natural. Despite my initial hesitation at driving, I found myself taking Jibby around the village, driving to nowhere in particular. All those times I've been gallivanting with Jibby I haven't gotten a single scratch.
My mom asked me to run an errand for her. So I climbed into Jibby along with my younger brother (who I hate to admit is a better driver) and our helper Judith. I've taken Judith along on numerous errands before—but only in and around the village. Today's errand entailed crossing a freeway. I was super kadooper excited.
Never made it to the freeway.
As I was about to turn onto the freeway, a truck just really had to cross before I could turn. I mean, I let everyone else pass, and he was meters and meters away so I took it as a chance to get going. Oh—
5. Stoplight distribution is spotty. Main areas are generally well-equipped, but sometimes you find location with a stoplight overflow, and some pretty well-traversed ones without any stoplights at all. Add to that the fact that drivers here tend to always be in a hurry and just have-to-have-to pass before anybody else, well, you can see how that could be a problem. It's more of a cross/turn-at-own-risk type of system.
Anyway, So I slammed on the brakes, and let the stupid truck pass since it was in such a stupid hurry. I guess the truck was also veering right because it's stupid dirty butt scraped Jibby's little face. And by scraped I mean ripped it apart. Have you seen Blade II, where, like, the super vampires split their lower jaws in half to devour their victims? Yeah, Jibby looked like that.
Well, what's done is done.
I received a sermon from my dad, about not-being-aware-of-my-surroundings and imagine-what-could-have-happened, but now that I think of it, I never heard him expressly forbid me to drive... hehe The biggest blow was that I have to pay for Jibby's reconstructive plastic surgery, which is the least I could do.
You'd think this experience would've caused me to regress into my past drive-o-phobic self. Funny thing is, no. I can't wait to get back out there. Jibby and I'll show 'em who's aware of their surroundings, thank you very much.
That's just it I guess. You simply have to be extra aware and careful to drive in a place like this. Because apparently even when you're sober, things like this can happen. It's like the only difference between driving drunk and driving sober is that when you drive drunk you simply become as reckless, dangerous and unpredictable as everyone else.
I need a drink.