the filipino mis-directions

Posted: July 7, 2009 in zeroes and ones

after tonight’s ordeal, now i can really sympathize to non-filipinos and how they really criticize the way we give directions.  this is not a baseless criticism to filipinos by the way.  i am a filipino too, and i love this country no matter its shortcomings.

the story is that i tried to get to a friend’s birthday party.  everyone would be there, including a lot of my friends too.  being not a cebuano, i can go my way around the familiar parts of  cebu city.  but when it comes to other places, especially the heavy residential zones, i’m gonna have to say, i am still a noob in cebu.   my more than 3 years of stay here in cebu didn’t help at all, since i can only recall common and popular places and streets.

generally, this is where we fail in giving directions.

1) it is common for filipinos to use their mouths when giving out directions.  how?  for those who are not familiar with us, we often form an `O` with our mouth and extend it as much as we can from our face to point to a direction.  yes it is easier and more convenient to use ones hand (or both) to point to a direction.  i don’t know why we use our mouth instead.  it is really funny.

2) our streets are named but we seldom use it to get to a place, or to tell someone how to get there.  instead we use landmarks and the name of a zone.  while landmarks aren’t bad, street names would be better.  but then again the  street signs are not prominent everywhere in our cities.  sometimes it is there, or hidden, partially or totally, by something.  and because of this, everyone here has gotten used to giving out directions by saying for example, “7-11 of  zone X.”  good thing if there is only one 7-11 store in zone X.

3) not giving out an estimated distance to how far this point is to another point.  is it walking distance?  is it a 100 meters?  we often generalize and say “it’s just up there, look for  a big tree,”  when the truth is, that big tree is more than a kilometer away.  this will not work always.

i was laughing at myself  tonight, all sweaty after all that walking.  my god i didn’t even know it was over a kilometer from a popular mall in this city to the province’s capitol office until i saw the road sign that said – “capitol turn right 1km ahead.” what the fuck?!  going from my apartment alone to this mall, is almost,  if not over, a kilometer as well.  that makes it 2 kilometers of walking already. this is just going one direction.

in that part of the city where the party was being held, that’s another story.  it’s beyond the capitol of cebu.  it’s a big zone.  not all of the streets are lit by lamps.  we generally don’t have city blocks here to make it easier.  so it’s just a maze of streets turning left, right and in odd  directions.

i didn’t want to take a taxi because i’ve been taking a cab for 3 years now. it’s time i get on the generally accepted cheap form of public transportation which is the jeepney.

so there, i failed miserably into getting myself to that party.  when i was walking along dark street corners, poorly lit streets and passed many groups of people just standing or sitting there on the sides, that did it for me.  no way i’m gonna get mugged here.  this is ridiculous!   and so i hailed a cab and called it a night.  a cheesburger from McDonald’s sounds better instead of a broken bottle on my head.

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