Sep 18, 2017

When a recent study led by a UK private firm revealed that Manila is one of the world’s most stressful cities, we weren’t surprised.

And an opinion editorial of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) pretty much summed up why the news seemed old to us.

Manila is the everyday of many Filipinos—“[j]ust consider the numbers: over 1.60 million people living on 42 square kilometers, or a population density of over 40,000 per sq km. Yet Filipinos have developed a brave, adjustable attitude that has enabled them to cope with the urban challenges.”

Let that sink in for a minute. If that doesn’t illustrate the difficult truth enough, here’s an infographic by PDI that’ll make the picture clearer:

Manila was tenth on the list, with Iraq’s Baghdad taking the top spot. On the other side of the spectrum—cities deemed least stressful—were cities from Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, France, UK, Australia, and Austria.

And before you join the ever-growing number of Manila’s staunch critics, stop and take a minute to think about it. What good will whining do? If you complain about Manila being one of the world’s most stressful cities and not actually do anything about it, aren’t you only adding to that stress? And before you go saying that the efforts of one person won’t do much, just imagine if your actions cause a domino effect.

It may be cliché, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try. Here are the little things you can do to make Manila a little less stressful:

Dispose of trash properly

nolisoli manila trash
Photo courtesy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

One of the obvious reasons why Manila is so stressful is because it’s a highly polluted city. There’s garbage on the streets (not to mention piss and spit), you breathe smog, and we don’t segregate. But if you could remember to dispose of your trash properly and tell friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and acquaintances to do the same, then maybe—just maybe—you can help make Manila cleaner. If Manila were cleaner (and safer), maybe more people would even consider walking instead of taking cars, which would, in a way, help the environment as well.

Respect road rules

nolisoliph nolisoli metro manila traffic
Photo courtesy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Here’s another reason why Manila gets on people’s nerves: traffic. And why is traffic so bad in the city? An utter lack of discipline, among other things. If people followed road rules and observed road etiquette instead of succumbing to road rage and ignorance, the streets of Manila would be easier to navigate. If people would give way more often, then driving around Manila would be a more pleasant experience. It’s simple, really: Keep in mind the golden rule—do to others what you’d want others to do to you (on and off the road, for that matter).

Don’t cut in line

nolisoliph line people
Photo courtesy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

What was mentioned above applies to this, too. For reason beyond my understanding, people have a hard time grasping the concept of lining up whether it’s during commute, or at the department store cashier, or even in any government office. Another simple concept: Wait for your turn. It’ll come. I promise you, it will. If you’re impatient, do the universe a favor—don’t even bother getting in line.

Practice basic courtesy

I shouldn’t be even talking about this because this is so elementary. Sadly, there is a need to reiterate: Be courteous. All you have to do is be a decent human being who doesn’t push and shove in crowded areas; who doesn’t spit on the sidewalk; who doesn’t go around hurling expletives in the streets; who doesn’t demean people. This isn’t rocket science, people. If I have to tell you how to be kind, then congratulations—you’re probably one of the reasons why Manila was named one of the world’s stressful cities.

Don’t keep silent

But be constructive as well. Nobody likes a good-for-nothing online troll who ‘word-vomits’ for a living. If you have something to say and you honestly believe that it may benefit the masses, then speak up—and use all channels and platforms available to you. Exercise your democracy. Our forefathers fought hard so we could enjoy it so why not put it to good use?

Play an active role in community building

The Philippine government has a lot to work on. We have shitty train lines, our waterways are polluted, roads are either cramped or damaged, poverty is at an all-time high, we have—and continue to vote for—corrupt officials, and to top it all off, we have the ongoing drug war to think of, thanks to a certain Mr. Duterte. But if you really want to make a change, play an active role in local community building and development.

Go to your barangay and see how you can help make your area a better place to live in. Seek out organizations that hold regular clean-ups and donation drives. Contact politicians and businesses who you think can help. Democracy is a two-way street. Much like with anything, you can’t expect results from doing nothing. So if you want change, get your ass of that seat and do something about it.

Header image courtesy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Read more: 

This is why the world thinks Manila is the worst place in Southeast Asia

Manila traffic isn’t only costing us money, but also costing us our health

There’s life around Manila Bay, and you can help improve it

A photographer took aerial photos of Manila and they’re utterly suffocating

This is how Filipinos dealt with flood in the early 1900s


TAGS: germany how to deal with manila traffic manila nolisoliph philippines pollution stressful cities traffic world's stressful cities