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Street: Right of Way

I don’t know why, but we Filipinos are too nice. There’s nothing wrong with asserting your right when you are absolutely sure that you’ve got the right to be an ass to other people.

Take the simple act of keeping the sidewalk free for pedestrians. The thing with Manila is that most sidewalks are puny. There’s hardly any space for the average pedestrian to walk two abreast down one of the many sidewalks in this blasted city. And to make matters worse, other folks start claiming the portion of the sidewalk that’s in front of their property as part of their property, thereby blocking the sidewalk even further, forcing the average pedestrian to stroll happily down the freaking road.

And then you have the sidewalk vendors. Oh man. How I love those guys. Have you ever tried walking up and down the section of Pedro Gil in Manila going from Taft Avenue to Robinson’s Place Manila? That sidewalk is so strewn with vendors that people walking to and from the LRT have to literally wait for the person walking opposite him to pass in order to keep the traffic sensible.

But they’re not the worst of it, no. The worst are those motorcycles who think that just because they’re on two wheels, it gives them the right to use sidewalks as their roads. Listen, I walk across Nagtahan Bridge in the mornings for my workout. When I’m coming back from R. Magsaysay, I’m walking with the traffic. And then suddenly behind me, I hear these guys honking, asking me to make way so that they could pass. Of course, I look behind me, and bless me if it isn’t one or two of them blasted motorcycles trying to inch their way past the early morning traffic jam.

Well, nuts to them. I’m a fat man, so I’m rather huge, so I try not to stray from the middle of the sidewalk, and keep them from passing, up until a section of the road frees up. I mean, this is a sidewalk, for crying out loud, not your personal freeway. Bicycles I could understand, because those guys have to haul ass just to get their bikes up the bridge. But you guys are motorcycles. You are powered by gasoline. Stick to the goddamn road.

I don’t understand why Pinoys have this nasty habit of ignoring the right of way in the streets. Whether it’s the jeepney driver just trying to “make a living” or if it’s the motorcycle driver trying to make headway through the traffic, everybody’s just too much in a damn hurry to remember that there are rules to be followed when you’re on the street, and that those rules are there to prevent other motorists (or pedestrians like me) from heading up to you and beating your head out with a bat.

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