I want to share my insights on my recent travel in Taiwan that, I think, will help make a better Philippines.
1.Efficient transportation system
Imagine no long lines and squeezing yourself in just to ride the MRT. Taipei runs on an extensive network of trains. You can reach almost all destinations via train or ride their disciplined buses as an alternative option. Towns and cities outside Taipei can be reached through high speed trains in less than 2 hours. Payment is automated via EasyCard which can also be used to buy food from any 7-11 store.
The Philippines’ Department of Transportation and Communication is eyeing for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system for Metro Manila, and hopefully it will change the metro scene. I think the Philippines has to invest more in efficient mass transport systems than building new roads that attract more traffic.
It’s not that Filipinos aren’t disciplined, but I think these observations from Taiwan will greatly improve our way of life:
People properly line up in train stations. No pushing. There are Priority seats for the elderly, pregnant and disabled. Buses load and unload in designated stations. People clean up after eating in fast-food restaurants. Trains and buses leave and arrive on time. When crossing the streets,people use only the pedestrian lanes on a green signal.
3. Caring for the environment
More than 50% of Taiwan’s land area is forestland. The capital city Taipei is interspaced with greenspaces. The rivers are lined up with parks. They have educational signs for wildlife, plants and trees inside the parks and around the city. And it’s so hard to find trash and garbage bins in the city. What’s so cool and hopefully we’ll adopt in the Philippines is the U-bike rental system. You can rent a bike in one station and return it in another rental station.
Imagine Pasig River clean, with green parks along its banks and boating and hanging bridge for tourist and pedestrians. (photo taken at Xindian, Taipei)
Rent a U-bike in one station and leave it in another.
4. Tourist Friendly
Minus the communication barrier (which I think is the downside of Taiwan), the country is generally tourist friendly–so easy to go around. Aside from the efficient transport systems, they have free maps and Wifi at the airport, train and bus stations, and tourist destinations. Even without asking, several Taiwanese approached me and offered help to show me directions. And tourist destinations are well maintained.
Hope for the Philippines
With the Philippines’ longer history, rich culture and nature, I believe that we have high potentials to go up. Add to that the Filipino hospitality, perseverance and optimism despite negativities and diligence. I believe we can be better, if not, be the best.