I am writing this post because even today (lockdown measures have been lifted a bit) I have had to cope with one of the many traffic jams that are caused day in and day out by never ending road repairs, many of which are the result of the fact that all kinds of utilities in this country run underground.
One of the things that really impressed me the first time I set foot in the Philippines is the incredible amount of utility poles and overhead wires and cables.
I found that jungle of wires quite odd because here in Italy, as well as everywhere else in Europe, there is almost nothing hanging overhead.
I assume that the reason why they have overhead feeds in the Philippines is because the cost of underground wiring is much higher and developing countries evidently can’t afford all the extra expenses of boring holes in the ground, and all the more so because cities like Manila grow very rapidly and more and more new high-rise buildings and shopping malls are being built almost at the speed of light.
The downside of this “spaghetti wires” system became pretty obvious to me back in 2008 when I experienced my first tropical typhoon ever, bagyo Frank: we had no electricity for three days. Evidently overhead wires get very easily damaged by storms and severe storms do happen in the Philippines way too often.
Here in Italy we never, or hardly ever, have any prolonged power outages.
Underground feeds also offer a much cleaner look, since there are no power poles running down the streets.
On the other hand the underground wiring system has its downsides:
First of all electric bills are very high in this country and I guess that the higher cost of boring holes in the ground and digging every now and then to do ordinary and extraordinary maintainance is something that ultimately us users pay.
Another problem is that we have to put up with men at work digging holes to repair electric lines as well as gas and water pipes, day in and day out, and more men at work putting patches on the asphalt and those patches are not always even (and that is perhaps why in the Philippines roads seem to be smoother than the ones we have here in Rome: no one is digging holes all the time).
For us tourists who visit the Philippines those messy overhead wires are a little ugly to watch but I guess that it would be rather unpractical and probably too expensive for a country like the Philippines to switch to underground wiring in the short term.
At least Filipinos can enjoy their new roads that are free from the way too many patches and bumps that we have in this country….