Palawan Tricycles: More Than Transportation

In design, Palawan tricycles are unique compared to the usual tricycle designs found in other towns of the Philippines. Yet for the locals, Palawan tricycles speak more than transportation. It is part of the culture of Palawan.

In the early days, there are only a few types of transportation available in Palawan. Most particularly in Puerto Princesa, I remember roads never congesting not even for a few seconds. Today a little congestion while waiting for the traffic light on the intersections is considered “stuck in traffic.” While the wait cannot be compared to the traffic in Manila or Cebu, Palaweños probably are impatient to a minute or two of traffic congestion because it is a remote occurrence for decades before recently.

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In the past, if traveling long distances, you would be accommodated by a Jeep (jeepney), while all short distance commute is through a tricycle. I feel old when I remember how much Palawan tricycles’ fair was when I first learned to commute to and from school. The cheapest I can remember was 2 pesos a ride.

As I have mentioned in my previous post, I am often in and out of town. Sometimes it takes me years to come home, while my other escapades take only about a month or two. When I got home last year, I was surprised to see an actual taxi passing by in front of me. Quite frankly, it was a “WOW!” moment for me. To see a white cab with “company name” printed on its doors and the light that says taxi on top, makes it legit.

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Growth, I guess I am quite lucky to be born in this generation. I witnessed the evolution of this province from a very dynamic perspective. My adventures outside the island made me value my hometown and province even more profound. To some, the development is slow, for me, I like it that way. After seeing towns in Southeast Asia that are completely destroyed by tourism and industrialization. I would prefer if this island take it slow. I hope as the leaders aim to urbanize the whole province, they also lay down in great detail how they would protect the culture and natural environment.

Tricycles are not roadworthy

For most new settlers in town, they see tricycles as chaos the streets. To some, not even roadworthy. I guess because this kind of transportation is not etched in them as deep as it is to earlier immigrants. Sure there are plenty of falter with the design, but locals cannot yet afford a taxi ride for a regular daily commute to and from work. It is also true that commute with jeeps and multicabs are quite a hassle depending on your destination. Further, in terms of safety, these little rascals are relatively safe. I guess the protest to ban the tricycles on the main roads is an issue that entails a long list of considerations especially within Puerto Princesa Palawan.

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Much has to be said about regulation of Palawan tricycles franchise when addressing the traffic issues. When I am engaged in an argument about transportation, I always just emphasize how the place is evolving and we are in time of change. How long the curve to change is, that we have to witness.

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