Traffic > Gridlock

Was this ‘Edsodus’ or just one of those nights?

Were these cars driving out of town or simply heading home?

Everyone is just happy to spend another long weekend away from stressful work. PHOTO BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

There are certain things you can set your watch after in life: Christmas Eve being on the 24th of December, your birthday being on the day you were born, and EDSA being clogged up at the start of the Holy Week rush out of town (usually the evening before Maundy Thursday). In true and annual fashion, Epifanio de los Santos Avenue resembled a slow-moving car park again tonight, with a multitude of people presumably leaving town for the long weekend. Overcrowded buses and jeepneys with tired-looking office workers were stuck alongside family sedans with excited kids badgering their parents with annoying questions, while a never-ending stream of motorbikes pushed their way past this metal avalanche like a row of ants returning to their hill.

Who's leaving town? Who's staying put? PHOTO BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

Next to the people in the cars, there were also those who were trying to keep things moving from the outside. The MMDA had reactivated its Oplan Metro Alalay Semana Santa, with over 1,800 staff members ranging from tow truck operators to traffic enforcers trying to keep things in check. The PNP’s Highway Patrol Group was also out in force, now supported by over 1,500 Grab drivers and motorcycle riders from the NCR who had recently been sworn in as road safety marshals. Hopefully, all of this helped (and will continue to help) in getting everyone out of town quickly and smoothly, with the whole process going in reverse come Sunday.

EDSA is our daily drive to our motoring Calvary. PHOTO BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

There is definitely something strangely beautiful and captivating about this spectacle—this procession of a million flickering lights floating through the blackened ocean of night. Cars cruising to inevitable destinations, watched over by giant billboards trying to sell us things to fight our insignificance, and guided by an infinite number of written and unwritten rules that somehow manage to instill a sense of order into this chaos.

Then again, who knows? Maybe what we witnessed and experienced tonight wasn’t really the annual exodus out of Metro Manila. Maybe it was just one of those routinely congested evenings. Maybe there’s no more escaping our giant gridlock. Not even on Holy Week.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.