Thursday, April 14, 2016
Driving in Dumaguete
It had never been my intention, when arriving in the Dumaguete area two years ago, of ever driving an automobile in this city. I don't drive a motorcycle, and I was content to make my way about Dumaguete by way of easyride or tricycle.
My only reason for obtaining a Philippine driver's license was because I wanted to have a local ID. Some things are easier when you use a Philippine ID instead of a U.S. passport.
When I applied for the license, I was told I could have simply converted my Georgia license to a Philippine license, had the GA license not expired. Because my license had expired, I had to take the written test, in addition to the drug test and biometrics. It was this written test that lead me to believe that there were traffic regulations in Philippines. I can't speak to other parts of the country following the traffic laws, but I can say without fear of contradiction, that whatever traffic laws there are, none are enforced in Dumaguete city.
Rumor has it that helmets are required for motorcyclists and their passengers. If you see a helmeted cyclist, you can bet it's a foreigner. Not every foreigner wears a helmet, but the percentage is much, much higher than the percentage of Filipinos wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle. I don't have an exact figure, but I seriously doubt if 1% of the folks in Dumaguete wear a helmet.
In Sept. or Oct. we purchased a car. As I said, it had not been my original intention to drive a car, but it was raining quite a bit at that time and it was difficult for my wife to take our son to school on her motorcycle in the rain. I wrote in an earlier post that the current drought is being blamed on El Niño -made worse by rising global temperatures. I'm blaming the current drought on our decision to buy a car. We bought it because of the rain and it probably hasn't rained five times in the several months since we got the car.
At certain times of the day, there are places in the city where only a masochist would voluntarily drive. Driving downtown around lunch time is stupidity. Cars, motorcycles, easyrides and tricycles push bumper to bumper. There are no stop signs or traffic lights anywhere in this city of 121,000 people. Rome, GA., where I called home before coming to Dumaguete, has a population of about 36,000 and more than a few traffic lights. Driving in a city this size without traffic lights is worse than you can imagine.
When arriving at an intersection, it's the one with the biggest cojones who has the right of way. If you can force your way through, you have it. Some intersections will have traffic cops during rush hours, but they're as useless as tits on a bull. If you decide to disobey his signals, well, I don't imagine he has much power to do anything about it.
Someone in the U.S. once asked me which side of the road you drive on in Philippines. In Dumaguete, it's any @#^%&a; side you want. If the vehicle is going too slow to suit you, you pass on either side. If there's oncoming traffic, they're obliged to slow down or pull aside to let you have your way.
Being an election year in Philippines, there are several road projects going on in Dumaguete and Sibulan. (and other areas too, I'm sure). These ubiquitous road repairs don't help the traffic situation.
Driving at night? Don't do it. As bad as daytime driving is, it's nothing compared to driving at night. Motorcyclists will drive on the wrong side of the road.....without their #$%@* headlights on !!!!! What sort of idiot drives at night without headlights?
I wrote in 2007:
"Because I don't live here year round, I can look on all of this as a romantic,exotic adventure. I don't know if I'd have the same high regard for this sort of transportation if Dumaguete was my permanent address."
No truer words were ever written.
Oh, yeah. One last word. I used the above photo in a post from 2007. This time, I changed the coloring from RGB to Grayscale. I hadn't noticed, until now, the sign above the vehicle parked on the right.