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What’s Wrong with Us Filipinos? A Sensible Evaluation of Philippine Street Markets, Public Utility Vehicles, and Public Places

Many of us, millions of us, used to commute in going back and forth to our work as well as during our “lakad” or personal trips. With jeepney, tricycle, and bus as the most convenient means of transport in the Philippines, we are fine with taking these rides just to reach our destination.

Let me ask you. What do you observe or notice while riding these vehicles? I guess many of your will agree, it’s not that comfortable to sit on them. But we’re used to it, aren’t we? Also, how do you find looking into the open window of these public utility vehicles or PUJs? Well, I noticed a lot of things. So let me share my riding experience.

In this post which what I want to call “Passenger Window Photography”, I will share with you some photos and what I did notice on them. All these photos were taken in same day as I travelled from my place going to Manila. Come with me and experience this one of a kind ride of a Filipino in a typical day in the Philippines. You will be surprised!

So here we’re inside the jeepney – just a simple one with no decorative stuffs or whatsoever gimmicks. Looking into the front, there you see the jeepney driver, a passenger on his right, the sign board, and another passenger busy with her phone. Then at the rear side, there you see other passengers. Now what did you notice in these photos? Anything wrong or something unusual?

Some are holding on the bars, others don’t. Have you seen that? Do you think that the driver and the passenger on his right are wearing seatbelts? Inside the jeepney alone, you’ll already see how life goes on in a typical daily commute of a Filipino. Outside the jeepney, notice that the motorcycle rider some meters away is not wearing any helmet.

Regardless of safety, we Filipinos will ride PUJs from one place to another. A jeepney running at 60kph is not at all an issue for passengers, even to a child sitting next to her mother. The speed is just a speed for texters with their phones. As a passenger, it is none of our business to tell the driver to slow down or be extra careful with his driving. Your business? Just sit and relax if you can. As a driver, most of them but not all, what matters is that passengers are paying right for their rides. You can stop at any point of the road, even at the center to load or unload your passengers.

Now, turn your eyes outside as we pass by a street market.

While the mufflers are emitting smoke, sellers and buyers are busy with their business. At a glance, that is how things work in many street markets in the country. Pollution is not something to worry about.

Sell as Long as There's Space
Look at the lady with a cap. She’s selling fancy jewelries. Then on the left side was a lady selling her stuffs. But then on their back is a building with a sign board that reads “New Cherry Furniture”. But then right in front of this shop are plenty of sellers blocking the way to the shop.

Salt Sellers Everywhere
Have a look as we move a bit of a distance. It’s stand-up sellers after stand-up sellers. At the far left is a salt seller. And then next to him is another salt seller. Even at the smallest kind of business, Filipinos face competition.

The Street Life 
Now on this angle, here’s a man carrying a pile of egg trays. On his side is a cart with a man selling his products. People are walking on the streets, not on the sidewalks. Even the sellers are on the streets.

Weird Product
Now, look at what this man sells. It reads “FOOTSPA PANGTANGGAL NG KALYO KULUGO LIBRE TESTING 1 MINUTO LANG”. When we translate this in English, it means “Footspa product, used to remove warts. Free testing, will remove it for 1 minute only.” And the seller with a cigarette is there waiting for customers. What do you think of his product? Does it really work as advertised? Weird.

Dark Minimart
This photo looks ordinary on the first look. There’s the sign that reads “POLDICK’S MINIMART”. But isn’t it too dark to shop inside this minimart? Meanwhile, this man in blue seems done with his business and ready to go home. Now, the jeepney is soon to stop right on where he is standing.

Stuffed Toys On Sale
Then here are these ladies selling stuffed toys on the street. On their back is a man in red selling vegies on wood trays who seems to be a bit happy. Stuffed toys in this place? Just sell it wherever you think there are potential buyers. That seems to be the beliefs of these stuffed toy sellers, would you agree?

Buko Man
And here is “Kuya” selling coconut or “buko” on his cart. This style of selling buko thru push carts hasn’t changed that much over the years. You will see a “bolo” or knife, jars of buko juice, and plastic glasses – tools and materials needed by Kuya to sell. How much is a glass of buko juice? Probably it’s around 10 pesos to quench your thirst. Obviously, a man on the side is eager to buy and drink the fresh buko juice.

Dressed Chickens for Sale
Dressed chickens are hanging while the cut pieces are on the trays. They look fresh but the fact that they were sold on the street side, they could have absorbed all the dirt from running vehicles after several hours of exposure. Interestingly, you’ll see the sign “GUMAGAWA NG LAPIDA” which means “WE MAKE TOMB STONE TABLET”. How come these two different kinds of business comes this closewitho each other? Vegetables on sell on the side of chicken seems okay, but not the lapida.

Lapida Business
Here is a closer look on the “LAPIDA” products. Rest in peace those whom have passed away, but to see these tablets blended with vegetables and meat is quite scary for a few of us. Well, it can be an excuse that aside from lapida, the store owner is also selling marble product called “lusong”. We used it to pulverize peppercorn or paminta and other kinds of seeds or corn used as condiments.

Street Meat Vendors
Here are a few meat sellers minding their own businesses.

Street Family Vendors
This next photo is not disturbing at all for most Filipinos. Here you can see families lying down on sidewalks while selling their stuffs. For some reasons, they used the street as their homes just to earn a living day and night. You can see a lot of them almost anywhere in the country these days. Life goes on for them, rain or shine they are ready to sell.

Scrap Metal Buyer
While waiting for jeepney, we spotted this sidecar or bicycle with side car parked on the sidewalk. So what the owner of this do is he or she looks for scrap metals that will later on be sold on the junk shop. You can see a lot of Filipinos on their sidecars taking chances to create income out of buying and selling scraps of all kinds. It’s a decent job in the sense that you don’t make money out of wrong doings. You will hear from them, “this is better than stealing”. True, but is this decent enough to protect their health and safety, and bring enough food to their family? I will answer this question for you. No.

As we went back home later in the afternoon, we then took a bus ride. And I need to share this observation.

Preachers on the Bus
Good and I was able to save this blurred version of the photo for I do not want in anyway bring harm or inflict shame to the people involve. There’s a lady standing near the front of the bus and she’s preaching the “Words of God” as she speaks of it during the introduction. Then here’s the man in black handing white envelopes to one passenger after the other. With all respect to all religions, I think this is not a good idea. Let me state my reasons.

First, when it comes to their safety, preaching the words of God inside a bus running at 60kph to 80kph is all about stupidity. With this reason alone, I need not to reason out another one. But okay, let me add more. Second, is it really fair to bring your church’s mission inside PUJs? What about the beliefs of other passengers who do not want to listen to you because they have a different God? Is there any option left for them to ignore you? Even if they cover their ears or used ear phones, they will still see and hear you and cannot escape from your preaching. Third, it is probably not new to you to know that many preachers like this are fake. That’s a fact and I think you may agree. They step into the bus, read some passages from the Bible, then get the “donation” they need after a few minutes, and put the money directly into their own pockets. As far as I know, many people do not believe in this kind of preaching anymore.

The moral of this commuting story is this.

Moral of the Story
We Filipinos, many of us, have embraced this way of life wherein we incline to treat unusual to be usual, illegal to be legal, unacceptable to be acceptable, bad to be good. The photos you’ve just seen obviously reveal the street-way of selling in the country. If you would only analyze it, selling meats and vegetables in a smoky road is detrimental to our health. Families lying on street sides or even walkways pose imminent dangers to their lives. Also, safety while riding any vehicle must be there. Business must be done in an appropriate manner, protecting the rights of both sellers against competitor sellers and the right of consumers when it comes to health, safety, and comfort. Selling on the road this way, not a good idea at all. We can sell on the road provided there is an acceptable system in place.

A Clarification
Again, I do not in any way want to offend people or damage the credibility of others. What I want to tell, especially to the authorities, it to promote the health, safety, and comfort of every Filipino in street markets, on PUJs, on streets, or in any public place in the country.

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About this Post
What's wrong with us Filipinos?! What do you think of this post? Please leave your comments below. You may also contact the author, Noriel Panganiban, at if you want to know more about his vision for the Filipinos and the Philippines.


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