5 tips on how to survive driving in Makati City

Have you ever driven in the “country” that is Makati City?

Of the major cities in the Philippines, Makati has probably one of the most stringent traffic rules. A lot of drivers passing through this city’s streets have stories to share of finding themselves being at odds with the city’s (sometimes overzealous) traffic enforcers and ending up receiving a traffic citation ticket.

You can just imagine the headaches and hassles that Makati driving can bring to the life of a law abiding “Juan dela Cruz”.

Here are five driving tips that might save you from the long arm of the Makati law.

1. Know Where, When and How to Park.

Where? Streets that allow parking usually have parking slot pavement markings painted along its stretch. As a general rule, sidewalk curbs painted white are for general parking use, yellow curbs are usually reserved for business establishments, and red curbs are no-parking zones. Parking in front of fire hydrants is also a big no-no. Always check for Parking or No Parking signs or verify it with the city parking attendants.

When? Some streets allow extended parking only at certain times of the day. During business hours (usually from 7AM to 5PM), most street parking areas allow cars to be parked for a maximum of 3 hours. On the other hand, some streets offer free parking after 5PM. So it’s always good to check out the Parking Signs nearby.

How? There is a correct way to street park when parallel parking is allowed. Your car should generally face the same direction as that of the street lane’s traffic. If you’re caught parallel parking with your car facing traffic, then have some money ready because you’ll most likely end up claiming your towed car at the city pound (usually at Yakal Street).

To be on the safe side, it’s always best to park in a paid-parking lot.

2. Figure Out the “One Way” Labyrinth Riddle

This is what Makati is known for, the “One Way / Two Way” street riddle. Always read the street traffic direction signs usually found at both ends of a street, or at the corner of each intersection. Be aware that some streets permit two-way traffic on weekends or holidays.

3. Obey All Traffic Signs

If a sign says “No Right Turn on Red Signal” then do as it says. These are traffic “honey pots” where Makati’s MAPSA (the city’s traffic enforcement group) people make a heyday. You’ll find these traffic zealots usually ‘hiding’ around the corner, ready to spring to action to apprehend the unsuspecting driver.

4. Buckle Up. Seatbelts Save Lives (Among other things).

Buckling up not only saves lives, it also saves you from paying fines for not putting seat belts on. MAPSA people have eyes trained to watch for signs of ‘passenger seatbelt underutilization’.

5. Remember Your License Plate “Number or Color Code” Day.

This is one traffic rule that makes the city seem more like an autonomous country. Makati does not follow the usual National Capital Region (NCR) Vehicle Reduction Program schedule, otherwise known as the vehicle Number Coding Scheme.

Vehicles with plates ending in a certain number are not allowed on main roads on certain days. The number code days are:

Monday: Plates ending in 1 and 2
Tuesday: Plates ending in 3 and 4
Wednesday: Plates ending in 5 and 6
Thursday: Plates ending in 7 and 8
Friday: Plates ending in 9 and 0

Most NCR cities and municipalities enforce the ban on the following specified hours: 7AM to 10AM and from 3PM to 7PM. In Makati’s case, bans are enforced from 7AM to 7PM. So you better watch out.

The five survival tips above cover traffic regulations. How to survive while driving along with Manila’s general driving public is a different story.

Related Blog Entries:
7 Ways to Avoid Road Rage – Part 1
7 Ways to Avoid Road Rage – Part 2

Posted in Tongue-in-cheek and tagged , , , .


  1. LOL! Let me tell ya, I am seriously afraid…and I mean afraid of driving in the Philippines! It’s just so crazy and there are so many cars…
    I am so glad that my grandmother’s drivers bring us everywhere!!! I went to Makati City and many other places in the Philippines. I am sooooo scared of Manila! I love it, but it’s scary! Maybe because I’m not from there…and maybe because I can’t speak tagalog. I sort of understand, but I can’t speak it.

    Anyway, I LOVE your blog! It’s great! It’s definitely one of my “must read” blogs of the day!

    Oh, I have a funny story for you. My cousin (also from Canada) and I were in Lima (or was it San Jose? I can’t remember where we were) and we went to a store to find a fly swatter, because the flies were really bugging us. Anyway, we went and couldn’t find any fly swatters, so we asked a store employee. We said, “Hi! We’re looking for a patay ang lang-ow. (I don’t know how to spell it, but that’s how we pronounced it. The guy just stared at us and had nooooooooo idea what we were saying. So, he gets like 8 other sales people and we’re in the middle of this circle of store clerks, gesturing (rolling up fake newspapers, acting like flies buzzing, and pretending to swat them) and saying, “Patay ang lang-ow! Patay ang lang-ow!” LOL! They were all howling, still not understanding. They thought we were so funny. Great…let’s see how much more we can embarrass the Westerners! We had blast and finally, it was concluded that they didn’t even sell those darn fly swatters. My grandmother told us to just use our slippers! She also told us that they didn’t understand us because we kept saying, “The fly is dead. The fly is dead.” LOL! I bought an English-Tagalog dictionary that day.

  2. You really got me laughing with your story Chrissy =)
    I guess the moral of the story is to learn how to use your slippers to get those damn flies!
    Nice blog, sharkey! Very enlightening…Just an addition to your list, beware of blocking the pedestrian lanes even if you’re caught in the stop light! Those traffic enforcers just won’t accept your reasons! Too bad, I forgot the name of that MAPPSA officer! gggrrrrrr!!

  3. LOL! Thanks, Anon! My adventures in the Philippines were really fun. My cousins and I had a a chance to connect with our Filipino roots. I love it there and would love to bring my husband there one of these days.

    *sigh* I miss Filipino breakfasts on the beach! Longsilog!!! Mmmmm! LOL!

    One thing that freaked me out: The security guards have huge machine guns!!! We went to the bank and there was a security guard outside the front door with a huge gun and serious looking face…Whoa! Scary!

    My silly kid brother went up to the security guard and started talking to him! Crazy! Anyway, it turned out okay. My kid brother had the guy laughing and we found out that security guards (and people in general) earn so little in the way of salaries. I was so sad 🙁 But, my grandmother told us that though people don’t earn as much as in North America, they live well on what they earn and things aren’t as expensive as they are here.

    My grandmother always packs “Balik Bayan” (sp?) boxes for her family in the Philippines. My grandmother wanted me to live in the Philippines with her and teach at the local school in San Jose. I really would have, had I not had roots here (ie: a husband and a life here). If I were single, I probably would though.

  4. @ Chrissy:

    The fly swatter story is hilarious! 🙂

    And yes, the Philippines does need a boost in terms of quality educators. It’s too bad most of them go abroad to teach. In your case, we’re glad that we have professionals like you who do the Philippines proud.

    @ Anonymous

    You’re absolutely right! I should have added that ‘pedestrian’ thing to the list. In fact, I did blog about it before. You can check it out here.

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