One of my love and hate relationships i have in the Philippines is driving.. I love the independence but hate the fact that so many people drive badly but its not always the motorist. Today i was at a junction in central Cebu and there is no straight on quite simply because the road is out of use for whatever reason. So you can either go right or left. We are going right aswell as another lane. But what i couldnt believe is someone with a BMX literally from the inside of the inside lane just went straight across the road with two young kids on the bike with them. Crossing the two lanes of traffic didnt look round didnt batter an eyelid literally could have been hit and left for dead and wouldnt even have seen it coming.. that sort of thing happens daily. Aswell as the fact the more you move from the city the less people are likely to have a license. I hate wearing a helmet on my scooter so generally avoid where possible anywhere from our province outwards not an issue. But head into Cebu and your looking to get at minimum hassled for a ticket. Its a bizarre scenario and until experienced people really dont know what real traffic is, i was driving around central London this year which seems to be mainly people from abroad driving around traffic is bad and some of the driving was skipping up bus lanes and the normal inpatient push and shove that goes with any major city but all in all its nothing compared to driving in Cebu maybe its the hundreds of cameras in London now that puts people off bad driving with the slick “receive fine by mail” system we have. But getting back to my point. If your visiting Cebu on holiday i would advise against driving for many reasons. It took less than 2 days to get a dent in my multicab by just being parked how much is it going to cost you with a rental car? The chances of hitting another vehicle are very high not because your doing anything wrong but simply people weave here most of the time without indication and in the evenings your competing with traffic which the majority of vehicles are moving around with very few lights either to save on fuel or the fact they just dont work and some vehicles such as the peddle cabs which are normally a BMX with a sidecar dont have any lights at all.
If you insist on driving try and get a driver for a day and just go out and take a look at the road layouts, the traffic and get familiar its definitly not what your likely to have seen in the West. But all in all I love the place… even with the headaches of traffic because one thing ive realised is the multicab is slow, gets caught in the traffic and often has to emergency brake. But put me on my scooter im flying through the traffic weaving at every turn and getting to my destinations at least in half the time. I would never advise anyone hiring or buying a motorbike or scooter here simply due to the high death rates nearly every evening there is fatalities involving vehicle crashes. Head down the southern coastal road and out towards Argao nearly everytime we have got as far as Car Car there has been a serious crash. Not wanting to put people off just want people to get home safe.
A few pointers when driving though.. when someone is flashing theyre lights at you when your turning it doesnt mean they are letting you past it actually means they are not stopping! the complete reverse of what we have in the UK. The lines on the road mean nothing if you see what would normally have two lanes of traffic what it actually means is there is likely to be three lanes plus motorcycles weaving in and out. I sat today thinking about the best way to describe the movement of traffic and the best I could come up with is a shoal of fish.. imagine a dense shoal weaving, turning all heading in one direction well thats it! every gap gets filled and everyones heading up or down the road. If your on one side of the road your going to have people everywhere undertaking,overtaking,slowing down, last minute stopping,stopping without indication.
There are a few what I call dangers on the road generally.. those are the buses,multicabs,taxis and SUVs. Motorcycles generally stay out the way as they know you are bigger than they are so theyre unlikely to throw up any challenges. The buses and multicabs are literally stopping and pulling away constantly so be aware one may overtake you then suddenly cut straight across in front of you to pickup a passenger. Taxis as soon as they have a passenger are in a rush.. they have a concept of if i cant see you i cant hear you. They pull out from side roads, make U turns all without looking they will force you into an emergency stop if you dont realise this as your approaching because once they start moving they arent going to stop. The SUVs generally bully drive.. they are owned by either foreigners or rich filipinos who expect to just push theyre way through most of the time. But one thing I have noticed about having a big american SUV generally most people cant park the thing and the parking spaces arent designed for them here. Maybe ill save some money up this year and go the full safety hog and get an armoured car.. either way if your coming here on a holiday if your in the cities your better off with a driver and public transport is pretty efficent anyway.. dont cause any un-needed stress! let a driver have it..