I couldn’t end my stories about our trip to the Philippines without giving attention to what I call real-life Frogger.
For the most part, our trip to the Philippines was pleasantly uneventful. There were no typhoons, no earthquakes, and no bombs. In fact, the only life-threatening event was crossing the street, though that was something we had to do mulitple times per day.
It’s rare to cross the street at a stoplight or in a crosswalk. Even if there is a crosswalk, the drivers disregard it. Usually you cross at any place you like and if you get stuck in the middle of the street with traffic dodging you on all sides, so be it.
Anthony Bourdain accurately described crossing the streets of Manila as requiring a lot of momentum and commitment, and he suggested that the best approach would be to close your eyes and just go. I find it’s like playing Frogger, and when you add a stroller in the mix, it’s even more terrifying.
“Fred, this guy’s about to cross, let’s go with him,” I say as I notice a local stepping out into moving traffic.
Cars don’t stop for you. You have to stop the cars.
“Go, go, go,” I say to F. “Oh, is that car gonna stop? No just keep walking. Oh, wait. Yikes, that car almost ran over my toes. Keep going. Watch the motorcycle! Wait, that car isn’t stopping. Holy crap, it almost clipped the stroller! That one is slowing down a bit. Go NOW. Stop! Ah, f*@k it – don’t look, just keep walking…” This was the kind of blabber that came out of my mouth each time we crossed a street in Manila. And each time we got to the other side, I felt pure relief and a desire to celebrate our victory over the traffic.
“At least here they see you and make eye contact, even if they don’t let you cross,” F observes. “Not like back home where they pretend they don’t even see you trying to cross the street.” So true.