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Driving in the Philippines (Manila)

I had to replace my Alien Registration card which meant I could not extend my visa in Dipolog city but instead had to travel to Cagayan Del Oro some six hours drive away. We set of early in the morning since the roads are quieter, however were amazed at the number of motor Tricycles and motor cycles some carrying large pannier baskets on the back but showing no rear light and often front lights with either dipped or main beam, It was a case of now you see them or now you don't and the drivers do not seem to care.

Many expats resort to employing drivers to drive their cars, because if you are involved in any kind of accident as a foreigner it is always your fault. The standards of driving are poor to say the least and even the driving instructors do not follow the rules or teach people correctly often cutting corners on junctions which means they are on the wrong side of the road.

Roadworks are virtually unmarked with no advanced warning signs apart from unlit signs men at work or deep excavation one foot in front of a trench. at nighttime one way sections of roadworks become a free for all. One reason we chose a 4*4 pickup truck rather than a car was because it provides better protection and greater visibility but even so one has to adopt defensive driving techniques watching the road as far ahead as possible for hazards.

Thanks to picking up an ambulance on an emergency run we made our outward journey in record time, tailing him at 2 seconds distance which provides a safe stopping distance no matter what speed you are travelling (as the lead vehicle passes a fixed mark you count 1 second, 2 second before you pass the same mark) Of course at time in traffic you find other drivers will cut in taking your safety distance away.

Once in Cagayan we discovered that the immigration office had moved and we got lost trying to find it new location. We asked a policeman who directed us back to where we had started so instead took us my taxi back to within Protected content of where we had asked the policeman's help.

On the way home we managed good progress until we reached Ozamis but from there onwards was a nightmare with workers heading home and once again hundreds of unlit or badly lit vehicles, at time one had to use main beam to pick them out, added to which were pedestrians some of home sit on the edge of the tarmac outside their houses.

Hopefully we will never have to make this journey again.

David Ogden
Dipolog city
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