Joana Paula Ramos doesn’t wait to get home to watch the TV series “Designated Survivor.” She has plenty of time on the road to view an episode on her cell phone, no thanks to rush hour traffic on Metro Manila roads.
“I can finish an episode on the road,” says Ramos, 35, who rises around 4:30 a.m. five days a week to catch a bus from her Las Piñas City home to Sta. Cruz, Manila, and make it to her office in Banawe, Quezon City, before 9 a.m.
The bus ride takes nearly two hours and rather than fret, Ramos stays cool. On morning rides, she takes a nap unless she needs to scribble some notes for a draft office report.
It’s the bus ride home that she relishes more, however. Whether she’s standing during the ride or seated, Ramos says she gets to catch up on “Walking Dead” or “Game of Thrones,” or read e-books such as Dan Brown’s “Lost Symbol” which she says is not as good as “Da Vinci Code.”
The traffic gridlock has never been this terrible, swears Ramos, who took the same route but spent less time on the road while taking up Commerce at the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila more than a decade ago.
Like death (or lately, extra-judicial killings) and taxes, congestion has become a constant in urban living in the Philippines.
Traversing Edsa on weekends used to be a breeze but these days, even the expressways going south and north aren’t spared of gridlock, no thanks to the fact that there are more cars out there than our roads can handle, virtually rendering the number-coding scheme useless.
But then again, trust the Filipino Everyman to find novel ways of coping and going with the flow.
For commuters who ride public utility vehicles like jeepneys, FX taxis or vans, and buses, the instinct is to nap, either to relax or make up for lost sleep.
When sleep becomes elusive, traffic becomes a convenient excuse for exploring apps on the smartphone, with commuters scrolling through their gallery of pictures, listening to music, checking Facebook or Twitter updates, playing games or reading online news.
Indeed, handy electronic gadgets like smartphones and tablets have provided welcome distraction from the traffic ennui that has trapped commuters.
These gadgets allow them to: watch a movie on Netflix; watch downloaded TV series; listen to audio books; play Pokemon Go and other online games; do online banking; call or text friends, or delete unnecessary data on the phone
For drivers strapped to their steering wheel, the options are more limited as they have to keep an eye out for traffic lights, pedestrians crossing at will and fellow motorists suddenly changing lanes.
Welcome distractions are listening to music or catching up on news on the radio to update themselves on the rising toll in the drug war or the latest celebrity scandal.
When traffic stalls or the light turns red, they can browse their FB, Twitter or Instagram or read the latest Sports or Entertainment news on Flipboard, among others.
Breathe, meditate, pray
Still, for commuters wary of holdup men or snatchers and opt to keep their gadgets secure in their pockets or purses, there are other alternatives to keep boredom at bay.
These include reading newspapers, magazines or books; doing a crossword puzzle or Sudoku; planning a family vacation or a weekend getaway; or reviewing one’s notes for a class or office presentation.
With Christmas just weeks away, the gridlock also offers a window as well to make that shopping list for friends naughty or nice. A bullet journal to plan work schedules is another option.
And finally, to exorcise the stress that invariably comes with the engine fumes, the heat and the wait, one can always meditate, do breathing exercises, pray the rosary or read the Bible.