As I already mentioned in my post on “laziness” (https:buildingfilipinowesternbridges.wordpress.com/2018/09/15/dealing-with-laziness/), one of the first things I couldn’t help but notice, during my first trip to the Philippines, was that huge crowds of people of all ages were lining the streets waiting for a tricycle or a jeep to get to the bayan or to the palengke (market place), even though the palengke was literally less than 500 meters away.
So, it seemed to me that Filipinos need a car, a motorbike, a minibus, a tricycle or anything at all that has wheels and an engine to cover even a very short distance.
I didn’t meet a single family that didn’t have, at least, one car or a tricycle or a motorcycle, no matter how simple their homes were.
But even more interesting was the incredible number of “Vulcanizing Shops” where they put patches upon patches ad infinitum on extremely worn out tires.
Near the toll gate of the North Luzon Expressway (when you enter Manila coming from Bocaue) I noticed a sign on the hard shoulder that said “kung sira ang preno mo dumaan ka dito” (“if your breaks are worn out drive here”) and there was a series of humps on the emergency lane to help slow down cars.
No matter how old and worn out cars maybe, Filipinos just can’t live without one, even though usok (smog) is extremely dense, even in my wife’s small town, not just in Manila. Actually I felt as if there was more pollution in the small barrio of San Ildefonso, Bulacan, than there is in the entire country of Italy.
When Filipinos move to Italy their attitude toward having an automobile doesn’t change.
Although here gas may cost you up to almost 2 euros per liter, although a car insurance may cost you up to 2000 euros a year and although every two years your vehicle has to pass a severe “revision” test, Filipinos just can’t live without a car.
The interesting thing is that, here in Rome, most Filipinos share an apartment with another (or even two) family to share the rent and the bills, and yet many of them have an Audi, a Mercedes, and very often a 7 or 9-seater car.
There are Filipinos who don’t even have their residence permit or a regular job yet, and the very first thing they want is a kotse (car).
Although in this country doing an oil change or repair your car on a public street is against the law, many Filipinos do these things themselves by applying the diskarte (finding creative ways to repair something) philosophy, or hire a fellow Filipino to do it (as the husband of a Filipina this actually saves me big money).
I used to find this “car dependency” extremely annoying and frustrating, as I prefer not having a car to having one, not just for the sake of saving money but also for a bunch of practical reasons (by using public transit I can read, I don’t have to struggle to find parking etc.) but, for the sake of “building a bridge” I’ve learned to find ways to meet my wife’s point of view and enjoy things that having a car allows me to do, such as road trips.
Being “forced” into having a car and maintaining it, no matter what, has also moved me to learn a little diskarte and, as a result, I can now do a little troubleshooting myself.