Vignette: Things you didn’t know about the Philippine public transportation system

Edmar Borromeo - Landscape

If you use public transport every once in a while (or all the time), then did it ever come to mind that we often see things that aren’t supposed to be there, and yet we might as well have gotten used to it? Here are some facts to things you might have seen or experienced from the Philippine public transport system that may make your trips a bit more interesting than usual.


Complain a taxi

“Kuya, Bicutan?” “Kuya, Makati?” Questions like these are heard everyday in front of South Gate when Lasallians are running late or are on their way home on a busy school day. These questions are asked with sincere hope and desperation, but sometimes (or most of the time), Lasallians are answered by the great kuya with a mere shake of the head and a sudden zoom forward by his savior of a vehicle. All a passenger can think of is, “But why, Kuya? It’s kinda’ your job.”

Instead of just asking questions, rejected taxi passengers may want to take note of the zooming taxi’s operator and plate number and report them to the LTFRB via their 24/7 hotline (459-2129) or offical website ( Once the authorities trace the taxi and its company (let’s hope they would), according to the certificate of public conveyance, the company will be sanctioned with a PHP 6,000 fine on the first offense, a three-month suspension of the franchise on the second and a cancellation of the franchise on the third.

Sidenote: There is always the option of just leaving the taxi’s door ajar when its driver has already rejected or asked “Dagdag na lang ng 50 ah.”; Meters exist for a reason, never forget.


MMDA color change

During MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando’s seven years of service, Metro Manila commuters travelled around the busy city with pink fences, traffic signs, bridges and urinals in every corner accompanying them. He says that pink stands out more and therefore allows citizens to focus more on MMDA’s signages and announcements (at least that is what he says). But in 2010, Manileños started to see green.

MMDA Chairman Oscar Inocentes turned Manila into a greener environment (literally). He says that the earthy color is a symbol of environmental growth and that, “Green is easier on the eyes, while pink is a color associated with gays.” Yes, our MMDA Chairman actually said that.

So if ever you become the MMDA Chairman, a great knowledge on colors will come in handy.


Bus drivers’ commission

It’s a bird… It’s a plane… No, it’s a bus!

On December 16 last year, a Don Mariano bus suddenly dove from the Skyway of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) to the west service road of SLEx in Parañaque. Authorities have claimed overspeeding and the slippery road because of an earlier downpour were the reasons of the horrific accident that caused the 16 injuries and 23 fatalities.

The salaries of bus drivers and conductors are commission-based, not fixed. They are left with no other choice but to compete with other buses to get more passengers and even work for 20 hours straight just to meet the quota imposed on them by their companies. If the daily quota is not met, the driver and conductor will not receive any bonuses and half the cost of the gasoline will be deducted from their earnings if their company chooses to do so; and whatever will be remaining (if any) will be the only compensation they receive.

And we wonder why buses start falling from the sky(way).


Weird (still really evil) modus operandi

This subtopic of this Vignette deserves a whole other article, but to make a point, here are some of the weirdest and most dangerous modus operandi that have victimized and are still victimizing Filipino commuters.

The Dura-Dura Gang, as their name suggests, is a gang that uses disgusting means to put off a targeted and unknowing commuter. One of the members of the gang distracts you by excreting spit, vomit or some other unimaginable human waste on your shoulder, which someone else from the gang points out to poor you, and suggests to get something from your bag to wipe it. So of course, as someone with another human’s waste on the shoulder would naturally do, you open your bag and then suddenly another hand gets inside it before yours and no more wallet or handkerchief for you.

Another modus operandi is when the taxi driver sprays or puts something over the air conditioner that would make its passenger pass out, leaving the driver free to do anything to the passenger. ANYTHING.

Always have a stern look on your face and a handkerchief in your pocket and also make sure you text a family member or friend when getting into a bus or taxi. Always look where you are and who you are beside to; look at them in the eyes as if you are the one doing a modus operandi. That will get these people off.

Modus operandi can be fought, but it takes real strength and character, and not everyone’s got it. Better avoid being victimized if you can. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!



The Manila-Cavite Expressway or the Cavitex is a 14-kilometer expressway that links Manila to the southern part of Cavite. The north part of Cavitex starts from Paranaque City and stretches across and over Manila Bay and then touches land again as it connects to Tirona Highway along the north coast of Kawit, Cavite. It looks like the letter ‘D’ with the straight line as Cavitex, the space inside as Manila bay, and the curved line as the land it connects. Not only does Cavitex makes the commute a much faster travel, it also makes it smoother and more efficient as commuters now have two routes to choose from in going to Manila from Cavite or vice-versa.

Funny, though, how Caviteños started to experience intense flooding ever since Cavitex was constructed.

So whether the LTFRB really listens to the complaints we send them through the text messages or in social media with matching pictures, at least you know a little bit more on how we are quite different with other countries in terms of transportation. If you think certain services of transport companies are bad then maybe now you would know a bit more why. We have the right to be safe out there on the very vehicles that we technically paid for.

Roy Eriga

By Roy Eriga

Arielle Poblete

By Arielle Poblete

11 replies on “Vignette: Things you didn’t know about the Philippine public transportation system”

You might want to add the modus in buses wherein a person will block you as you get off the bus. He will act as if he is checking if his destination is near and then someone from your behind (who acts as an alighting passenger too) will try to sandwich you as if he was trying to push you and the other guy who is blocking the exit. Then the guy who is blocking the exit will sit down and mutter “malayo pa pala” while the other exits the bus with you. Next thing you’ll know your pockets/backpack pocket are empty.

constant vigilance! (Harry Potter reference? lol.) About the taxis, the complaints are all true and i just want to add that even though we take the taxis it doesn’t mean we are swimming in money, (not all of us anyway) its an act of desperation to agree to the additional 50 pesos and the taxi drivers know when to exploit that don’t they? hmmm…

That’s why i have been thinking for the last 10 years, yes i have been using public transport for that long, that if the philippines want to improve and compete with the world at large, they/we should provide with competent and efficient public transport right? Not filled with crappy and people who tend to take advantage of other people, even students who are just basically still children…

Why do we have plenty of speeding bus drivers and all other drivers perhaps? I think, it is not only the manner paying drivers salary on commission basis is the reason of all these problems.Let us begin from securing a driver’s license. Before we go on, have you noticed the license issued to these drivers? Yes,they are Professional Drivers daw. Let us make a comparison on other professionals, when you become a professional teachers you need to study at least 4 years in college and so with other professionals who work in offices,banks, etc. But when study law or doctors you spend at least 9 years study or more to be fully a master of your trade. But here comes a professional driver who barely finished high school and some may have not finished high school at all. Yet, responsibility wise theirs is weighted more. When a lawyer commit mistakes in defending his client, only one person goes to jail or when a doctor left a scissors inside the body of a person he is operating and die only one person dies. But when a driver commit mistake in his driving, many persons may die and even larger damage to property may occur and yet their training are drivers is desperately inadequate. Even the system of issuing driver’s license is full of loop holes and shenanigans and able to pass exam without really passing the exam. The government need to tighten these two areas, drivers education and licensing..

Third Flower

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