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January 30, 2007


Jon Limjap

Aye aye for we are lazy. 200 meters feel like a mile for too many people. Sad but true.

Must be all those tricycles and pedicabs, really.

I wonder, however, if this is also true in the provinces? Or maybe it's the non-hectic life of the provinces that is reflected in urban Manila's walking pace?

"Naglalakad sa Luneta", thou art true.


I'll tell you what it is -- it's dust, heat and pollution altogether. Who wants to walk where there are no sidewalks. Whether you believe me or not, I like walking Outside Manila. And I'd give "we are shorter than you" more than 10%. I would notice the pace we were walking in our trip -- same pace (click, click, click) but you'd be over there because of your longer legs.

I think if we had weather (and sidewalks) like HKG, we'd walk a notch faster. Also, who walks fast in malls??? Aren't malls buildings of leisure where you stroll and shop? 50% to Different philosophy to getting to places.

But ok, ok, I'll admit there's some laziness but that's because it wasn't set up to be a walking city.

Am I sounding super defensive? :-)


Would Manila change if people start not to take cabs for 0.2 miles or tricycles for being moved from one corner to the next? We would certainly have less pollution here and more people would start to walk again (some might even walk faster after some time as Pinoys do in other countries).


I have another partly explanation, though I really don't know what percentage to give it.

Look at the people, look at their shoes. They are all pretty, but...

Take kids. Shoes are mostly too big, too wide, too heavy, mostly inadequate for walking (fast).

Take men. Shoes are mostly shiny, but sound very heavy, as men drag their feet more than the rest of the population. As for slippers, take the kids explanation.

Now, the best part of it: Women! I like shoes, but I will never bring it to 3.000 pairs in this country, because they are mostly unfit to bring you even from the shoe shop to your car!!! And it is not because of my European 38 6??) that I leave shoe shops frustrated. They look very pretty, I admit. And that's the clue: women buy pretty shoes and don't care about the rest. Just one strip on the top close to the toes is not a shoe. Such a shoe does not follow your foot when you move. Plus the question of the size: I have been asked many times why I don't take one size more when mine is not available, or talked into taking one size less, since the shoes would fit after some time.

10% for the shoes???


Slow walking is one thing, but what strikes me is the "snails-in-a-line" approach to malling -- four or five members of a group, elbow to elbow, nattering as they move through the mall at the speed of a glacier. You can try darting to the left and you can try darting to the right, but you're never going to get around them.

So maybe that's it. In the mall, at least, everyone settles for moving at the speed of the roadblock ahead.

I give that 30%.

Jon Limjap

When snails are walking side to side ahead of me, I buzz *through* them. My size gives me advantage.

When they do that on the road, I turn off my headlights, sneak quietly behind their butts, and then turn the headlights on to high and start honking repeatedly.

It's a fun exercise. :p


Ok Cogs, that bugs me too, I must admit. Especially when they form an unbreakable line right in front of you, oblivious to everyone behind them trying to make their way through..


I don't think we can really compare walking in malls to walking outside on the streets. When you're inside a mall you walk slowly because you're looking at the shops, the surroundings, etc. Basically you're walking for leisure. Now, I wouldn't want to walk in Manila's streets because there are no sidewalks, not many trees for shade, there's the unrelenting heat and pollution from jeepneys. I remember the first week back in Manila from Paris (where you can walk everywhere), I tried walking to places where I would normally take the car, a jeep or even a tricycle. It wasn't a pleasant experience. I suppose, the infrastructure, the physical surroundings isn't conducive to the culture of walking.


Splendid responses everyone!

What struck me is how cyclical some of the comments were: people don't walk because of pollution caused by people not walking! Conditions for walkers (sidewalks, etc) are bad because, guess what, people don't walk.

Jon: that question of whether this is a Manila issue or extends to the province (or even that it is the slow provincial rhythm expressed in an urban setting) is a good one, must think about that.

Frayed and Sparks: it is true that walking conditions here are not good, I quite agree.

Gu: yes, good point! Dix points pour les chaussures.

Manolo made the point on mlq that perhaps it is something to do with Filipinos not wanting to arrive hot and sweaty (a variant on the heat explanation). There's probably something in that too.

I also think that it is not just walking -- pretty much everything in the Philippines is done at a leisurely pace.

Pinay in Barnsley

6 years in England has probably improved my pace by I'd say 35%! I know this because I was walking FASTER than my girlfriends when I was in Manila last and they were all yelling " Hey English girl, slow down...there's no rush, you're in Manila now..."

Friction? It's a major source of EXASPERATION for us both because he's fed up of having to stop every 20 seconds to check that I've not been trampled on and I'm equally chafed by his 'C'mon-slow-mo-for-heaven's-sake' with matching-eye-rolling-taunts. Although it seems to me as though his speed increases in relation to mine, so there's really no hopes of catching up.

I have learned to love 'walking', but not in Manila. I'm afraid I took a cab fr the Peninsula to Glorietta the whole time we were there. I just didn't fancy arriving hot,sweaty & frazzled. In fact, I just fancied the idea of arriving in one piece! Didn't want to be run over by buses and cabs!

Driving in Manila...that'd be an interesting post huh Torn?

PS Nothing wrong with a girl wanting to be swept off her feet and carried home...I'm still waiting for the day...

the amateur misanthrope

Okay, okay. That was the same observation my brit prof, Martin Anderson, made on students on A.S. walk. One day he came in fanning himself, visibly irritated, and delivered a lecture in that crisp british accept on how we Filipinos walk too slooooowly. I don't know, the pedestrian traffic on A.S. walk probably delayed him. Anyway, later month, he tripped on the academic oval, and had to walk with a cane for the rest of the semester. LOL. There's a moral there somewhere. LOL.


Snail pace walking, the inability to see they are in the way of someone, not apologizing when they practically walk right into you because they're not paying attention to their surroundings, these just seem part of the hazards (and stress factors) in dealing with other Filipinos walking around daily.


Comment from Pinoy colleague ..
I am giving “what’s the rush” more percentage, say 50%. There’s a poem I remember –
“I stay my haste, I make delays
For what avails this eager pace? …”


Pinay in Barnsley has a terrific idea -- a post on driving in Manila.

Here's a starter from my 15-year-old daughter, who is just beginning to pay attention to the dynamics of traffic. "People here know how to steer, dad, but they don't know how to drive," she says -- referring to the near-complete ignorance of the rules of the road (can someone please tell me what part of the word "Stop" on a sign at an intersection is so hard to understand?), the inability to "read" traffic and the routine displays of plain bad manners, such as going up the outside of a queue at a traffic light (causing a counter-flow that impedes traffic going the other way) and then nonchalently barging in at the front.

I encounter these and lots more every morning that I drive to work, but I don't have the six hours it would take to list 'em.

For someone who has settled here from abroad (Hong Kong, in my case), it all comes as a bit of a shock. But do those brought up here see it too?


I live in Los Angeles where no one walks either, even if it's the perfect place to do so (nice weather, sidewalks and walkways, grassy lawns everywhere). I've always been accused of walking too fast, especially in Manila, but even over here. Guess I've just always been in a hurry (for instance I don't even take lunch breaks, I just eat at my desk while I work).

But when I traveled to HK and Tokyo I couldn't compare with 'em city speedwalkers (even the escalators are freakin' on speed), I kept wondering what everyone was in such a rush for. So I suppose a lot of it has to do with mindset and/or attitude, at least more than 25%.


Weather probably has more to do with walking speed than you reckon. If you walk slowly in winter, you'll freeze!

Walking is probably one area where my habits are not very Pinoy. I like to walk and walk rapidly if possible: more exercise, more opportunity to think, less pollution.

But it's not just walking that Pinoys do slowly compared to most industrialized societies. Eating is another thing, though our habits are changing. I will never get used to gulping things down while standing or walking. Eating a sandwich at your desk is one of the most awful ways to spend lunchtime. Slow food=good food, sociable and slim people. Fast food=crap food, obesity, sad people eating TV dinners alone.


Gigi is right about the faster speed of escalators in Hong Kong. They're maybe nearly twice as quick as those here. And for those who still think they're too slow, users are urged to stand on the right to leave the left free for the sprinters.

Not everybody complies, though. Sometimes you see a couple of women, side by side, nattering, while an irritated crowd builds up behind them.

Torn is apparently offering a prize of a weekend in his condo, free of charge, for the first person to guess who these people usually are.

Major Tom

I also feel that it's lack of economic activity that makes Filipinos stroll along, not getting hurried, when work is not that much or there are just no important meetings or engagements to meet. Unlike New Yorkers or those in Tokyo where there just seems to be always buzzing on the PDA's about this and that important meet.


I did some "practical research" this weekend. It is not hot at the time being, so it is nicer to walk. But I did not notice any increase in the general pace...
mlq is definitely right also with his argument: that people want to arrive pretty.


I work in Ortigas and people here don't walk slow. I just arrived from Baguio and I noticed people walk fast there as well. I guess it's about lifestyle too?


Here's an interesting article related to your post:


People are walking 10% more quickly than a decade ago, according to research in 32 cities across the globe.

Singapore showed a 30% increase, making it the most frenetic city

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