How to Survive in Metro Manila

When you choose to live in Metro Manila, you choose a hard life. If it is your first time to be in Manila, the four-lane highway scares

Image Source : Mike Gonzalez

you. The hazy street lights make you dizzy. The polluted air makes you want to stay at home. When you are in a large crowd, you just want to escape and travel through a helicopter.  But this is the real picture of Manila. For probinsyanos, this is the price of seeking for greener pasture.

If you are a newbie in Metro Manila or if you haven’t been accustomed with Manila life, here are some abilities you should possess in order to survive in the city where a lot of Filipinos look for milk and honey.

Speed and Accuracy

You learn the value of time when you compare your life in the city and your life in the province where you take time for granted. To save time, you should think quick and run if you can.

When you are student, you practice the habit of cramming. The challenge of cramming is how to achieve good results given with the time constraint. If you have this skill, you have a good chance to survive in Manila.  Take note: Cramming may be a way of life for any regular student but it becomes complicated when you study in Manila. You have to squeeze all your social and academic activities in your 8-hour schedule. Plus, traveling from Parañaque to your school campus in Quezon will drain your energy. You have to write a 500-word essay on the night before the deadline. Because you want to earn a high grade for your midterm exam, you try to make your essay coherent and substantial. This is the reason why speed should always come along with accuracy.

Everybody in Metro Manila should be able to keep up with speed and accuracy. Sometimes, you have to visit your cousin’s house for the first time or you have a very important meeting at the South.  And in these situations, you only find out how to get there when you are already in MRT station or at the bus. And this is how you learn to think and move fast. You have to make quick decisions because time runs fast in Manila.


The not-so-good-side about living in Manila is that people are obliged to be busy.  Even if you just want to stroll around the mall and slowly sip your coffee, you act as if you are going to be late for a job interview. You need to multitask everyday. Given with all the responsibilities, you can not just focus on one aspect in your life. It can make you crazy if you invest all your time in your job. Before you know it, you realize you miss a lot of good things in life.   How can you call your place a ‘home’ if you are preoccupied with your unfinished office work? The answer is balance. In a place where people claim they have no time for leisure, you have to balance.

Start applying this principle in your bus ride. Bus drivers and conductors can be very rude. They get mad at you if you are slow to get in and to get out of the bus. When you know you are already near to your destination, you have to walk along the aisle in the bus and stand there for a while. Again, it may be like any Filipino’s routine but in Manila finding your balance on a bus requires some mastery. The buses are like kings of highways. They are always on the rush.  In everything you do, balance matters.


The last but not the least is endurance. Those who have succeeded in Manila are those who have endured the traffic, the noise, the pain of wearing high-heels on a train, and a whole lot of suffering.  Manila is the place where your patience grows.  You have to fall in line with a number of people waiting for a jeepney or FX.  You get robbed. You lost your phone. You compete almost everyday in Manila and the first step to win over your opponents is to endure.