Traffic – Build! Build! Build! Clear! Clear! Clear!


WHEN I entered Kindergarten/Prep School at Nena Garcia’s Kindergarten on Apo Street corner Quezon Ave in June 1954 (at five years of age, born on Oct 12, 1948.), there was no general traffic problem. 

My two elder brothers, Manuel and Francisco went to high school and grade school at San Beda College in Mendiola. My two elder sisters, Maria Carmen and Rose Marie, went to high school and grade school at St. Theresa’s College on Demetrio Tuazon in Quezon City.

At that time, we lived in Rosario Heights, New Manila, Cubao, Quezon City, and we could cross Quezon Ave. from Kitanglad St. to Apo St. and vice versa any time of the day. 

My classes were half day. Before 12 noon, I would be picked up. Then, I would pick up my sisters at St. Theresa’s. Their classes were for the whole day. 

However, they used to go home for lunch every school day. The same was true for my two brothers who studied farther away at Mendiola, Manila.

At that time, Highway 54, now Epifanio de los Santos Ave. (EDSA) and Taft Ave were two lane roads without center dividers. Their right – of – way setbacks were very wide. 

Espana Blvd., Quezon Ave.,Roxas Blvd. and University Ave., were already six lanes wide with center dividers. Two short portions of EDSA were a wide six lanes – in front of the old Quezon City Hall beside Bernardo Park and in Cubao, in front of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) Antenna Farm, now Araneta Center.

At that time, the Metropolitan Area was not known as the Greater Manila Area or Metro Manila. We were known as Manila and Suburbs. 

There were very few stoplights as well as traffic enforcers. We had a lot of traffic circles or as the British call them – roundabouts. The biggest, the Quezon Memorial Circle was two way. 

The remaining circles are Monumento, Caloocan City, Maysilo, Mandaluyong City, Boy Scouts Circle on Morato Ave, corner Timog Ave. and Alejandro Roces Ave., Circle. 

Manila and suburbs used to be studded with traffic circles – Phil – Am Friendship Circle on EDSA corner Quezon Avenue, the “Circle” at the junction of Timog and West Avenues at Quezon Avenue, both Timog and West Avenues corner EDSA, Taft Rotunda on EDSA and Gilmore Circle on Aurora Blvd. I think, even Cubao, had a Rotunda.

At that time, the streets of the Makati Central Business District were still being laid out. Our father showed us the remains of the old airport and Nielsen Tower. As a very young boy, I wondered why the streets were so wide for so few cars.  



Manila and suburbs have become the Greater Manila Area, Metropolitan Manila or the National Capital Region. Traffic wise, we have become congested. The streets are too narrow for too many cars.

The modified eight-passenger World War II jeep has grown into a twenty plus passenger monster. The black and red “lawanit” JD, MD and Cam buses have doubled in size. 

The government organized and owned Metro Manila Transit, has come and gone. In six decades and three generations, the light rail has come of age. 

The PNR is being revived. The PNR Commuter train runs. A Pasig Ferry has been instituted.

Color or Number Coding has been implemented. Officially called the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (1995), it removed twenty % of vehicles from the road on weekdays from 8 – 10 am and 5 – 7 pm by number coding. 

The Saturday Odd – Even Scheme has been phased out. 

However, newly appointed MMDA Chairman Retired Brig. Gen. Danny Lim, has floated a trial balloon; twice a week coding. This has been met with widespread opposition.

There is a gridlock not only on the streets but also in the minds of traffic planners and enforcers. They blame the constantly increasing number of vehicles on the roads as against the inability to increase the number of roads and parking spaces. 

The former may be true but the latter is not. With little expense and small improvements, we can increase the length and number of useable roads as well as the number of parking spaces.

A serious and continuous no nonsense clearing of obstructions on all streets, parks and easements in Metro Manila, will immediately increase the number of available streets as well as the speed of the flow of traffic. 

Meanwhile, capitalists and entrepreneurs will be enticed to operate open as well as multi – storey parking lots not only in commercial zones but also in residential areas. 

Rivers and esteros, PNR and light rail tracks, major thoroughfares like EDSA, Osmena, C 5/Katipunan Ave. and the like have turned many streets into deadends! 

A bridge and flyover building program can give life back to these dead - end streets. Private subdivisions as well as public roads inside gated private subdivisions, shouId be opened up at least during the rush hours.

The government should not commit mistakes like the MRT 3 along EDSA. While LRT 1 flies all the way from Monumento in Caloocan City to EDSA/Taft in Pasay, MRT 3 is a roller coaster. 

Everytime it goes down to ground level it steals two lanes from EDSA. This is one of the reasons for the congestion along EDSA southbound from Timog to Connecticut in the morning.

The Duterte Administration’s slogan – “Build! Build! Build!” will come to naught without a parallel – “Clear! Clear! Clear!” 

We spend so much for roads, one or even two lanes of which will be used not by moving vehicles but for parking, pedestrians or vendors. 

Sidewalks that are cheaper than roads can’t be used by pedestrians because vendors have taken them over. 

Merchants and vendors who pay rentals for stall or store spaces in legitimate commercial buildings get unfair competition from illegal vendors who pay less but occupy the frontage of the legitimate vendors. 



In the coming year, we need President Duterte no less to do the job that LGU’s have failed to do – Solve the Traffic problem!


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Sunday, 19 January 2020
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