Traffic > Safety

What could possibly go wrong?

In the Philippines, everything is permissible

Do we penalize the tricycle driver or just pity him? PHOTO FROM RUSS ALFONSO

The first time I saw a jeepney transporting more people than its passenger limit would allow—with brave daredevils even sitting on the roof—I was amazed. One wrong move on the part of the driver, I thought, and those poor souls were dead. But that’s life in the Philippines, a country of excuses. Here, anything can be done as long as it helps anyone to survive.

So you see vans carrying steel rods that jut out of the back. You encounter buses that wildly sway from side to side as their treadless tires valiantly roll to their destination. You read about trucks without brakes. Everything is permissible.

And then you share the road with that tricycle in the above photo. Or this motorcycle hauling a window grille bed frame in broad daylight.

Sure, let's all just watch this motorcyclist earn a living. PHOTOS FROM RICK ARVIN BATUGAL

What could possibly go wrong?

Honestly, a lot. The objects they are conveying could fall off and hit the vehicle trailing them. Or they could distract another motorist and cause a freak accident. But we don’t mind. Because this is the Philippines. They have no choice, we justify. Kaya naman. Pabayaan na lang.

Which brings me to this thought: Our motoring life is a microcosm of our lives as a nation—of the things that we tend to do. We know it’s wrong, we know it’s illegal, we know it’s stupid…but we do it anyway. Because we have no choice, we like to tell ourselves.

Do we really?

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist for 26 years. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.