Expat In Bacolod

Stephen Bentley - Writer

PART 2: DRIVING IN BACOLOD – A FOREIGNER’S PERSPECTIVE

“The original article caused a bit of a stir. Here in Bacolod it went a little bit viral!

In case you missed it here it is Driving in Bacolod: A Foreigner’s Perspective

But let me make this clear at the outset. The problems with road safety in Bacolod are to do with the mindsets of individual drivers, pedestrians and all road users. Nothing more and nothing less.

The traffic problems here are not the fault of the current or indeed any previous administration.   I would take umbrage at any politician who attempts to use my articles on this subject in attempts to score points over the opposition or the incumbent party.

I am a foreigner guest here in your country and your city. I retired here and I love it here. It is not my place, nor would I be inclined , to be involved in local politics. Your local politicians are aware of the problems but they cannot legislate for the sheer stupidity and lack of consideration shown by many drivers here on a daily basis.

They can pass ordinance after ordinance to try to regulate traffic and promote safer roads. They can act tougher in the enforcement of those laws. They could even hire me as the ‘Bacolod Traffic Czar”  (only joking – it’s my Brit humour) and I could introduce a whole swathe of measures to try to regulate safer roads in Bacolod based on my experiences in London, England. But you would hate me! Read on and I will explain….

Below is a video of typical weekday traffic in London, England. I ask you to note at 00:30 on the clip to see how the stationary traffic leaves a gap at the Ped X. This is consideration for pedestrians allowing them to cross unhindered by cars, buses and trucks. I highlight it solely to serve as an example of considerate driving habits.

 

The rest of this article and the others in the series are available to read in full in my new eBook –

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4 Comments

  1. Interesting article, and appreciated. My Filipina wife and I who have been together now for nearly 35 years recently retired here to the Bacolod area and adjusting to driving conditions here after most of our lifetime spent in the states where consideration for pedestrians was ingrained, for instance, has been a bizarre adjustment.

    While there are certainly more issues to traffic safety than what has been considered common courtesy in America here in Bacolod, one could easily surmise that the complete lack of working traffic signals or arterial stop signs might be another. I am not a major social reformer and frankly, as a guest in this country, far be it from me to overly criticize local driving habits.

    While my wife has had a harder time adjusting to street driving here (mainly being in the passenger seat when I’M driving), I have found the experience of driving much more exhilarating and awakening than in the states where laws, ordinances, street signs, traffic cameras, ubiquitous police, and angry pedestrians who might curse you if their ‘rights’ are affected by your own inattention on the road.

    One can almost enter a fugue state of relaxation when driving in America. Ingrained respect for pedestrians, usually giving the right of way automatically; arterial stop signs; traffic lights; well-paved roads…the list goes on. Here, as soon as I am behind the wheel of our largish Innova, I am more alert than I ever have been as a driver in the States.

    Intersections with no stop lights? I’m looking left, right, front and once again as I enter. Driving on Lacson, ostensibly a two-lane road for each side? Usually three lanes, with ‘straddlers’ in the middle, looking for opportunity. Pedestrians jaywalking? Well, these I’ve learned generally realize that no one is going to stop for them (even if in crosswalks) and no doubt would take the harder result of interaction with a two-ton vehicle, consequently they are as much aware of their circumstances as I am, when driving. I have been advised to not stop for the jaywalkers or even the crosswalk pedestrians because such action could be very surprising to any car behind you who might end up smacking you from the side or behind as a result!

    I am consequently loathe to fool with things here vis a vis road rules. I expect that there might be some laws passed that might make it a violation to be a jeepney driver at night and…say, not have your Headlights turned on! Is there one? One might hope that common sense would prevail…nighttime; turn on your headlights, but for most jeepney drivers this is not done. This only makes me an even more cautious driver at night, particularly at intersections.

    I don’t have an answer to the problem of safety on the streets here, having only driven extensively in a few European countries, USA, and Japan. Here in Bacolod I am probably a better driver…or more conscientious driver than I ever had to be before. Whether I ever enter a ‘fugue state’ when driving, even if at a consequently higher rate of alertness (if such is possible) I don’t know.

    I enjoyed the article, but am not sure if much can be done.

    • Thanks Chris. Feedback is always appreciated. You say “far be it from me to overly criticize local driving habits”. I understand that. Initially I was reluctant to become involved, but have received so much encouragement and positive feedback from the citizens of Bacolod that the “Driving in BCD” will now become a series of articles – by popular request!
      I agree with your last sentence – I am also not sure if much can be done!

  2. Great Article sir,Im now an OFW here in the middle east, as a Bacolodian driver myself I was strucked by your observations. I once drove to drop off a friend from bacolod to talisay (both drunk) lol.. Your right,Proper education on driving & rules should be enforced through strict channeling that comes from the LTO.
    Thanks for the enlightenment & be careful when driving there stephen & watch out for the cutting jeepneys & taxis 🙂

    • Thank you for your kind comments. I have to say that having just returned from two days in Manila, driving in Bacolod seems quite tame in comparison 🙂 I don’t recommend driving drunk to anyone. In the UK or the US that will lead to jail time and besides it just makes it more likely the driver will have a collision or even kill someone. I watch out for the jeepneys and taxis all the time, and the tricycles with no lights at night, and the pedestrians with a “death wish” 🙂 Take care my friend.

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