Power to the People

Broken PylonThe Philippines is not blessed with the best electricity system in the world, and its certainly not the cheapest, so it makes sense in some ways that they’re a little careful with it. But how that manifests itself is sometimes broken, sometimes scary, and sometimes a little of both.

Take for example the number of cars driving around without lights on at night. These are primarily taxis, jeepneys and buses, and its not in an “Oh its just past 6pm and I forgot to turn on the lights” sense that they do it, its in a “This electricity stuff costs money, so by driving around without lights on I will save up to 10 Pesos a day of gasoline.” sense. Way to go.

But at the same time, this kind of thinking is also applied by large corporations. On my way home from the many and varied bars in Manila I like to walk if the distance is not too great. The large corporations which build the malls also build overhead walkways and subways so that you can get across the busy streets.

However after 10pm they close them down: The lights and the escalators that they contain clearly use up vital electricity and must be shut down overnight. What this means in reality is that when I’m walking home after 10pm, in order to cross a road, I have to jump over a waist-high fence, dodge through the traffic, and walk along the road until I can find a spot to jump back over the fence again. I’m not alone. There are hundreds of people doing this, many of whom seem to have accepted the insanity as part of life. Sure, save a few Pesos, and endanger the lives of hundreds of pedestrians, as they scamper across the streets in front of cars.

Cars without headlights.

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