It’s no secret that public transportation in Metro Manila is practically a shitshow. As if the traffic here wasn’t already terrible enough, rising fuel costs and fewer public buses and jeepneys plying the road have caused commuters to get stuck in daily purgatory, waiting hours in incredibly long queues or squeezing themselves into packed vehicles.
Given the situation, it’s no wonder that some Filipinos feel they must fend for themselves, relying on their own resourcefulness to tough it out. This includes hailing public vehicles in areas that aren’t designated bus stops (which are few and far between) in order to get a headstart on other public commuters waiting for the same transportation at later stops.
Of course, this kind of mentality can lead to more problems: commuters swarm the roads and hail buses or jeepneys at random points, leading to even worse traffic as the sudden stops bottleneck other vehicles on the road.
Enter Vico Sotto, Pasig City’s darling mayor, who has strictly implemented designated bus stops in order to instill a sense of order over the transportation chaos. One of these stops? The Sto. Rosario de Pasig Parish, a church some 450 meters away from the popular Rosario Bridge, where commuters typically convene to catch the buses passing by.
In the middle of one of Sotto’s Twitter updates on road construction along Sandoval Avenue, a netizen decided to confront the mayor on the issue:
“anung pinag gagawa nio sa mga pasaherong nag aabang ng masasakyan sa may rosario tulay? pinapalipat nio sila sa napakalayung simbahan (sic)…”
(What have you been doing to the passengers trying to catch a ride by the Rosario Bridge? You’ve forced them to move to a church that’s so far away.)
The tweet didn’t sit well with the mayor, who wrote back:
“Bakit kaya pag nasa ibang bansa tayong mga pilipino, handa tayong sumunod sa tamang sakayan/babaan… kahit paglakarin tayo ng 500 meters sumusunod tayo, no questions asked…
Pero pag nasa maynila tayo, magagalit pa kapag inaayos ito…”
(How come when we Filipinos are in other countries, we readily follow rules such as the proper loading/unloading stations, even if they make us walk 500 meters we follow, no questions asked. But in Manila, we get angry when this tries to be fixed?)
Many of Sotto’s followers agreed with the mayor’s sentiments.
“Just do what is right, Mayor Vico. Many do not understand or refuse to understand,” one wrote.
“People lack discipline because they all think they’re right. If you call them out they get angry. Only in the Philippines,” another lamented.
Yet others thought the mayor’s take was out of touch.
Some argued that the conditions for commuting in Manila are unsafe compared to other places, even aside from the extremely hot weather.
“In other countries, people can walk on the sidewalks. Here, sidewalks become extensions of houses, businesses, or parking lots,” one argued.
“Mayor, not all of our constituents have gone abroad. We need to make ways to ensure they are traveling safely and properly. Conducive [infrastructure], system, and policies. Let’s make the activity of walking on sidewalks through safe and proper pathways an example,” another said.
“In other countries, there’s ample shade, it’s not hot, and they made the roads and bus stops with commuters in mind, not private cars. Try to commute every day so you know the feeling. Just try,” another wrote.