Skip to main content

A Day in the Life of Juan dela Cruz, a Filipino Commuter

A typical working day of an ordinary Filipino usually starts at four (4) o’clock in the morning. Really? Well, that’s a rough estimate. But the reasoning behind is that if you will come from the north or south of Manila, allocating two (2) hours travel will land you safe – helps you avoid getting late for your 9:00am time-in job. But still there is no guarantee to that. Practically, a three to four hours total time allocation or allowance will enable a Filipino commuter to be at work just right on time. How true is that?

Alright, for the sake of argument, let’s dissect that lengthy hours right on this blog.

Filipino Commuters fighting for space in a Public Utility Bus

If you are a Filipino commuter, chances are, you don’t have to argue with me on this matter. But one may say, it depends on where you live and where you work. Okay, we’re talking about the average Filipino commuters here. Those who are living more than 20 kilometers outside Metro Manila, practically Filipinos who cannot afford to rent an apartment or even boarding house in this mega city, and choose to commute instead.

Now, hear this story.

The Story of Juan, a Filipino
Suppose that Juan de la Cruz (that’s the representative name of the Filipinos), will come from a barangay in Bacoor, Cavite – about 20 kilometers south of Manila. His working shift is 9:00am to 6:00pm and he works somewhere in Makati City. At 4:00am, his alarm rings signaling the start of his day. After a short prayer, he jumps out of bed and immediately go to the bathroom for the usual ceremony.

Probably at 4:30am, he’s done with the bathroom routine and is ready to have a quick breakfast. Maybe two slices of bread with butter, a fried egg, an instant noodle, and a cup of coffee - which Juan's wife cooked. At 5:00am, he’s done with his meal as well as with the gum and teeth routine. All things packed up; Juan is ready to exit his home and start his day as a city worker.

Juan on his way to the jeepney terminal

Juan walking on his way to terminal along with other Filipino commuters

And by the way, Juan will have to walk about a hundred meter or two going to the tricycle terminal in his barangay. That’s about a 5-minute walk, from rough pathway to "iskinita" (narrow hallways) to paved road. And since the tricycle has to fill-in its five (5) passenger maximum capacity (which is off standard if we talk about safety), that's another 5-minute waiting time for Juan. Now, going to the main road where the jeep terminal is situated would take Juan about ten (10) more minutes. Let us say that at about 5:30am, Juan is inside the jeepney going to Bacoor where buses going to Pasay City are passing by.

Juan riding a jeepney

Juan riding a tricycle

Juan is now in Bacoor and he’s kind of attentive and alert waiting for the next bus. At this early morning, people with bad intentions are already loitering around all over the place. Also at this time, “rush hour” is already starting to happen. So Juan may still be able to ride on the third or fourth bus because the first two is either full or will be traversing a farther route.

It is 6:00am and Juan was able to get a seat at the bus heading to Pasay City. Lucky you are if you still got a seat at 6:00am! Some of the passengers, old and young, men and woman, are already standing inside the bus on this hour and that is pretty a common situation (another off the standard practice here in the Philippines).

Juan riding a bus

Juan enduring the heavy traffic as he approaches Metro Manila

The 20 kilometers Bacoor to Pasay City route will cost Juan and the rest of the passengers of that bus roughly about an hour. Why that long? Imagine this. Buses run 60 to 80 kilometers per hour, right? Not in the Philippines, in Metro Manila streets in particular! Lots of stops due to traffic congestions, passenger loading and unloading zones, and red-light signals on intersections are on the way of Juan’s chosen bus. But its alright, Juan can still arrive at Pasay City at around 7:00am.

Juan inside a Public Utility Bus (PUB)

Now, Juan is fortunate enough for all went well on his bus ride from Bacoor to Pasay City. He’s off-boarding the bus at 7:00am and now heading to the nearest train station – Taft Avenue Station. That’s about a 5-minute walk and then 10 minutes more for the queuing and waiting time for the next train arrival.

Here’s what will actually happen.

Ayala MRT Station

Juan walking toward the MRT Ticket Booth

Before riding the Metro Rail Transit or MRT train, Juan will have to fall in line at the ticket booth, swipe his journey card on the entrance turnstile, walk together with the other passengers on the on-boarding platform, and fall in line again in waiting for the train.

Juan riding the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)

It is now 7:15am and Juan is standing inside the train with roughly about a thousand commuters. In 15 minutes, Juan will alight at the Ayala Station. From there, he’ll then walk to the nearby e-jeepney terminal, which is the last ride going to his office. With all the same walking, falling in line, waiting, standing and traveling, Juan is at the entrance of his company office at around 8:30am. Sweaty and tired, whew, it will take Juan another 10 more minutes in taking the elevator going to the 23rd floor and then some walking on the hallway. Sounds a great exercise routine, isn't it?

A bus offering exclusive ride to a city business district

Juan riding an e-jeepney

At 8:45am, Juan is safely on-time on that day of work. He's now on his swivel chair and ready to do his job.

Juan and his Fellow Filipino Workmates
Whoops, unlike Juan, his workmates are still stranded somewhere between Taft Avenue Station, Ayala Station, e-jeepney terminal or outside the elevator lobby waiting for their time to ride in and out. Some of his workmates surely will not be able to make it on time today. Some will arrive between 9:01am and 9:30am, or even beyond.

Susan who’s living at Bulacan is at that moment still stuck at NLEX exit point where a minor accident just occurred. She will be late certainly and may make it at 10:00am.

Carlos, who’s only from the nearby Quezon City will also be late, because according to the morning news, train commuters at North EDSA station were requested to take alternative transportation options because the train encountered technical failures and has to take an emergency stop as part of the safety measure.

A daily view of EDSA

Tina, Juan’s supervisor who owns a car and happened to be just living in Pasig City, will also be late. Heavy traffic is on her way due to moderate rainfall somewhere along C-5 road.

And speaking of rainfall, yes, that's an additional spice to the Filipino commuting escapade. A slight rain can cause major roads in Metro Manila to be flooded and unpassable both to motorists and commuters. What a life of Juan!

Juan dela Cruz made it today, but in his five days of work in a week, one of those is when Juan will surely be late. And the always common reason – heavy traffic!

Juan on His Way Home
Now, it is six (6) o’clock in the afternoon and Juan is about to go home. If you were able to count how many rides going to work Juan has taken, going home is not as sweet as you expected; not just for Juan but for the millions of Filipinos working in Metro Manila and other highly dense cities in the country.

By the time Juan arrives home, it is already past 10:00pm. The kids are sleeping, and the dinner meal is already cold. Good thing Juan’s wife is still awake and they were still able to talk for a few minutes before the lights are turned off to sleep.

Riiiiinggg! Beeeepp! Cling! Cling! And it’s 4:00am again!

While the main character in this blog article is Juan who’s a name representation of the Filipinos, the situation and experience is very much the same for millions of Filipino commuters, even motorists. About 4 to 6 hours are being spent or allocated by ordinary Filipino workers in going to and from work, everyday, every week, each month, the whole year round. The real problems why Filipinos are enduring this situation over and over again, I believe those are already in the news and you have heard of it a thousand times.

Of when would this agony will end up, that is my question too. Of the many solutions, alternative options and recommendations given to aid the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila, there is not even one that becomes a perfect-permanent fit. Same as you, I have my ideas too and let me put it this way.

In a mega city where millions of people are rushing to work, isn’t it just right to think that more cities should be developed to divert workers there?

I know that will take time, longer time. But the time to do that must be today.

Filipinos queuing up in a bus terminal going back home to Cavite

Train commuters waiting for next train to arrive at Boni Station

Alternative Solutions for Juan
But that is just my idea. At this present time, there are several options a Filipino commuter can do to alleviate the struggle of daily commuting. While one alternative cannot be said as better than the other, allow me to still suggest a few options.

Try the Angkas or Habal-habal option. This way of commuting is thru a motorcycle. Motorcycles are known to sift thru traffic congestion. Similar to taxi, the driver will take you on the place you want to go at a meter-based fee. Quite expensive but if time is gold for you, this one would certainly work.

Car pooling or Ride Sharing has been there for years. In this option, you will ride a vehicle on your way to work together with your friends or colleagues. You will set an arrangement with your friend driver so he will pick you up at a certain point. This alternative can be beneficial to you as well as with the vehicle owner in terms of travel cost.

Point-to-Point or P2P buses now caters a lot of commuters outside Metro Manila. Here, buses just have designated loading (Point A) and unloading (Point B) terminals. Since the bus will no longer pickup passengers along the road, commuting is faster than the usual ride. Also, the route is somewhat with less traffic congestion. The downside though is that the fare is almost double of the standard fare since the service is basically VIP or exclusive type.

A P2P Signage

Finding a bedspace or room sharing is also my recommendation. That is, if you will end up paying lesser when you are staying in Manila rather than enduring the hassle of daily commute, why not, go for it. The reality here is that you can avoid the two (2) to three (3) hours struggle in the streets. Stress-free though a bit heavier on the pocket.

Bedspace Advertisement

This one is neither an insult nor a top recommendation. You can ignore or skip it. But whenever the time allows, buying your own car can make a difference. I am not suggesting that you apply for a car loan, buy a second hand one, or buy it in cash. What I am saying here is that given the perfect chance, with budget available and financial aspect is stable, try this option. I have to be clear as well that I am not a car sales agent. The photo you are about to see is just for reference.

Cars for Sale

Finally, this recommendation is something applicable to everybody. Like Juan, our character in this post, a Filipino like you can also manage your time. Simple as that. Wake up early, plan your trips, and condition your body and mind about traffic, because for now "Traffic is a big part of life". And to relieve the stress from such unusual time management experience, make your weekends as relaxing as it can be.

There are many other options for sure. What is your idea or suggested solution for Juan dela Cruz? Leave a comment below.

You May Also Want to Read
Metro Manila - the City of the Filipinos that Never Sleeps

About this Blog is a campaign for good changes in the Philippines. It's ultimate goal is to create awareness - that our beautiful country has lots of problems and needs positive changes. The change can start from you, or from this blog - being an inspiration to readers like you. If you believe in's advocacy, sharing this post can make an impact to the changes we're all searching and aiming for in this country.


Most-Read Posts of the Month

“I Love Baguio City” - My Travel Story in the Summer Capital of the Philippines

The Strawberry Farm, Burnham Park, Mines View Park, the Mansion, Wright Park, Lourdes Grotto, and Session Road; these are among of the popular landmarks in the more commonly known “Summer Capital of the Philippines” – Baguio City. Why so? Well, the temperature here seldom exceeds 26 degree centigrade. During the cold season of December to February, the temperature falls down to even below 10 degree centigrade. The record low temperature was 6.3 degree and that was on January 18, 1961.

How to Travel to Baguio City?
Going to this cold city in the mountainous province of Benguet, Philippines is a six to seven hours travel by passenger utility bus from Manila. Starting from EDSA, traversing the NLEX, entering SCTEX, exiting the province of Tarlac and going through the neighbouring provinces of Pangasinan and La Union, and then exploring the zigzag road of either the Marcos Highway, the Kennon Road or the Naguilian Road, the coldest place in the Philippines will be reached. Baguio is about 2…

"Business as Usual" as the Filipinos Define It (Vulcanizing Shop, Sari-Sari Store, Bakery) – Part 1

I asked the shop owner about these old unused tires on what are they doing with it. The Vulcanizing shop owners says, “Oh, someone will pick up those tires and pay us 5 or 10 pesos each. Sometimes they just take it for free”.

Vulcanizing Shop - A Classic Example of Filipino Business
You’ve most probably seen and been into a local, typical vulcanizing shop like this one in the photo. The business concept is very simple. Here’s a customer with his flat or deflated tire and the vulcanizing boy will repair it using a rubber compound patch, a heating tool, and an air pump. If it’s a regular car or van tire, repairing one may only take 10 minutes the cost of which is around 30 to 60 pesos. If it’s a tire from a truck or bus, it could be around 30 minutes and the repair would cost the vehicle owner around 100 to 150 pesos.

Here’s the thing. A shop like this one could potentially earn a revenue of 1000 up to 2000 per day just by repairing a flat tire. Why? Well, with thousands of vehicles like j…

Sidewalk Vendors

You’ll often see them. You’ll buy from them. But when they become part of the news, you’ll get to hate them – some of you. They are people like us who simply wants to earn a living. They have a family to feed. This is the business they call “marangal” (dignified). And we call them…
Sidewalk Vendors

Let me define what (or should I say “who”) a sidewalk vendor is.

Here in the Philippines, there is a notion that if you’re a sidewalk vendor, you mostly likely belong to the lower class of the society. For one reason, why sell on the sidewalks or streets of Metro Manila and other cities if you can sell on approved places particularly the market. For another, selling in the street on a daily basis is a risky activity – you’re prone to illnesses, effects of air pollution, dangers from vehicles passing by, and unsafe condition of your store or shop.

In a third-world country where job opportunities are scarce for people with lower educational attainment, there is no reason to doubt that poor people…

Filipinos Very Own Jeepney is in Manila and Everywhere in the Philippines

Jeepney symbolizes the culture of the Philippines. This is the primary means of transportation of the Filipino people. This vehicle can be seen anywhere in the country. There is no city, town or barangay that has no jeepneys to represent them. Jeepney is the life of the people in the Philippines.

On the Photo: Jeepney Blessing Ceremony
Children and adults in this photo are excited about the blessing of this new jeepney. Coins were thrown on top of the jeepney and they scrambled for it. For the jeepney owner, this is the start of a new day, a new business venture. Jeepney like this one, which has a stainless body costs around P300,000 to Php400,000 and is mainly used as a passenger utility vehicle.

How many jeepneys can you see here?

How about here?

Riding a Jeepney - How it Feels to be in It
Riding on the jeepney might not be that comfortable and convenient to all. If you are tall, you have no other choice but to bend your neck a little. If you are fat, worst case that the driver will charg…

"Business as Usual" as the Filipinos Define It (Palengke, Business Permits, Illegal Vendors) – Part 2

I politely asked these two young ladies to give it their best pose so I can take a good photo of them which I would then add to my blog. They both agreed and here they are now. Both are vendors on this store located inside the public market near my place.

We call it here “suki” or someone who’s a regular or loyal buyer and I am their “suki”. I often have had a short conversation with the owner of this vegetable stand and she’s one of the kindest business owners in this market. You can see from her shop huge variety of products she’s selling. This shop can earn a revenue of around 10,000 pesos to 20,000 each day.
Palengke (Local Market)
If you want to know where to find the products produced by a town or a province, the best place to go is in its public market or “palengke”. It has all the commodities you want. Back in the old days, public markets in many places in the country is just a temporary commerce place where sellers set up their stalls for a day and then leave and come back a w…

Who are These OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and Why are They the Modern Heroes of the Philippines

At the turn of the millennium, the Philippine government launches this campaign program calling the overseas Filipino workers or OFWs as “Mga Bagong Bayani ng Bayan” (Modern Heroes of the Nation). From then onwards, different organizations established programs giving awards and recognitions to selected OFWs who did a remarkable contribution or action to their family, friends, work or in general, to the country.

OFW ka ba?Bakit?Eh kasi dating mo pa lang, mayaman ka na. Boom! 
(Are you an OFW? Why? Because with just the way look, it seems that you’re rich. Boom!)

My Cousin Dado as an OFW in South Korea 

At present, OFWs around the world are estimated to be around 12 – 14 million. This is approximately 10 – 12 percent of the Philippines total population. These OFWs are distributed on many countries all over the globe majority of whom are in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Singapore, Hongkong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Italy. Immigrant workers in the United States, Australia and Eu…

A Question to the Filipino Youths – Are You the Real Hope of the Philippine Nation?

“Ang kabataan ang pagasa ng bayan.” (The youth is the hope of the nation.) – Dr. Jose Rizal, Philippine National Hero

Quite a rhetoric statement by Jose Rizal if you will examine, but if taken literally, yes, it conveys the truth about the youth. When adults are done, the new generation whom were once youth, will take care of the country. So needless to say, that is how life cycle goes in this planet, in any country. The youth is the hope of their own nation for they will be next in line to rule, run, lead, and build the country. However, what makes the statement rhetoric is that not all youth can be trusted if it’s about shaping the nation in the near future. Even the then youths whom are now the adult citizens of the country, they lose the quality of being a “hope” of this nation.

You may or may not agree with me on this interpretation of mine but I believe there is one truth we can both agree with. And that is:

Hindi pa huli ang lahat. May pagasa pa tayong maasahan sa mga Pilipinong k…

Where in the Philippines is Bonifacio Global City – the Gateway to the First World Country?

Getting into this place, for me, is an amazing experience of a lifetime. For a Filipino like me who grows in a rural setting, seeing towers and high-rise buildings with blue and black tinted glasses is definitely a very self-gratifying experience. Bonifacio Global City (BGC) is a first class urban community in the City of Taguig in the National Capital Region (NCR). It is situated between the well-known C5 Road and EDSA. Commuting via the BGC buses, the place is very accessible to people on all walks of life. Although this is one of the highly-densed business centers in the Metropolitan Manila, it is still an open place to all city wanderers and foreign travelers. There are lots of parks, recreational places and modern event venues that can be found here. This is the city that is now bringing changes on the face of the Manila heritage.

On the Photos: First Two Photo Capture of the Bonifacio Global City

About the Job OpportunityI had been here sometime in the month of September 2012 for …

“Fixer” in Philippine Government Agencies Like the Social Security System (SSS) and Land Transportation Office (LTO) – What We Filipinos Can Do About it?

Maybe in this post, I can clearly explain how “fixing” works in many government offices in the country. The idea is first, to warn you that such illegal fixing happens, and second, to give you tips on how you should avoid them. Plain and simple, we will not in anyway damage or speak against anyone or any particular office of the government in this post. It just happened that this is about my experience with LTO and SSS Tagaytay. I want to emphasize that still many government employees in the Philippines are doing their jobs right - including those who are working in the said branches.
If you have experienced transacting with any government offices here in the Philippines, whether you're a Filipino or not, you should already be familiar with these signages.

Here’s a bit of knowledge for you to digest first.
What is “fixing” or who is a “fixer” by the way?
In the Philippines, these good words happened to have a negative connotation over the past decades. Good words? Yes, indeed. When …

Talk to Us


Email *

Message *