The Car Culture in the Philippines


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Image source: vpcrc.com

These days, more and more Filipinos are buying cars to use daily to go to their jobs, schools, or to wherever they wish. In every major city, there are many new kinds or models of car coming out every now and then from various car companies. And also, in most expensive subdivisions, many middle class families own more than one car; sometimes even up to six per household. Because of this, some people ask: how come the government allows this when surely this is one of the major causes of the current worsening environmental crisis of the country.

There is no doubt that cars can be very helpful. For example, it can easily take you to a hospital whenever there is an emergency situation. If you own a business, it can also help you transport your products or get you to a business meeting in just a matter of minutes, depending on the distance or how fast you drive. But sometimes, people still use it even if the place that they want to reach is not far or just a few meters away. And sometimes also, it just becomes a status symbol rather than an important transportation tool.

Due to many people owning cars, many cities of the country such as Metro Manila, Davao, and Cebu have become so polluted with smog, too noisy, densely crowded, and most especially full of busy traffics. Because of this, many people are rapidly experiencing a decline on their health due to the pollution and stresses that it brings. Aside from this, many car drivers also suffer because of lack of physical exercises or mobility. These factors are most commonly unforeseen or even ignored by both the people who buy cars and by the companies that sell them.

 

Image source: odt.co.nz/news/world/worlds-worst-traffic-jam

The “car trap”

In some cities car companies offer zero or very low down payment for buyers. Because of this many people including young ones, especially students, have purchased cars not just to use for transport but also to satisfy their desire and show the world that they can afford such thing. Without enough thinking, they do this action enthusiastically. But little they know that their purchase could possibly end up on financial burden, debt, depression, psychological and physical suffering, and of course, environmental degradation. They underestimate its disadvantages and ignore the general possibility that these days, owning a car is so expensive and costly especially to maintain and repair; let alone hitting someone on the road. In addition, they also didn’t see the fact that parking fee in most places is so expensive.

Image source: fearlessprediction.blogspot.com/2016/07/mrt-lrt-metro-manila-traffic-prediction.html

On the brink of “peak oil” while struggling from heavy traffic

In many part of the country, especially in metropolitan and industrial areas, many car owners these days experience stress and frustrations on a daily basis because of heavy and very slow traffic. One of the reasons is that many of these new models of car are really huge in sizes but carry only one passenger which is the driver. In Metro Manila for example, people get stuck on traffic for more than 3 hours daily upon going to and fro for their job, school or home. No matter how government agencies try to control the traffic on the cities by building wide roads and highways, including multiple layers of skyways or flyovers, it is still getting worse and worse every year. This is because hundreds of vehicles are being sold and added to the road every month without any consideration from the company that sells them. This ‘car culture’ which is somewhat pathological has led to more demand on fossil fuel which might cause serious shortages in a not so distant future. More importantly, it is also causing wars and oppression to some countries.

 

Image source: www.totalcardiagnostics.com/learn/top-ten-typical-automobile-problems

A different kind of prison

In addition, having a car is also way more expensive than taking public transports daily. Unless you earn a hundred thousand or more monthly, the payment alone will push you to extreme slavery of working hard in more than 8 hours per day all the time just for you to be able to pay your car loan. In most cases also, maintenance cost is way too high. Making sure that your car is always on its best condition, you must always spend a lot of money to bring them to your trusted mechanical shops every now and then. And because new cars today are rapidly depreciating asset, most new cars loses between 15 percent and 25 percent of its value every year. That is why these days, owning a car is not really a smart choice (in fact, it’s like a financial trap) unless you really need it to transport materials daily for your business. Even so, it can still result into serious suffering. That is why many people now have become so critical when it comes to this issue because aside from rapidly destroying our ecology (air pollution, water pollution, solid waste, and air pollution), it can also become a sort of prison for some owners.

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Alter Picar

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Alter Picar is a writer, translator, self-published author, songwriter / musician, community worker, non-profit organization manager (volunteer), mental health advocate / educator, librarian, and organic gardener.

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