Animal Avenue

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Had Darwin lived long enough to visit 21st century Manila, he may have been intrigued by Katipunan. Day and night this anarchic, six lane boulevard is the arena for a lethal competition between diverse species of vehicle and pedestrian. Only the fittest survive. Just before my arrival, there’d been a few hairy incidents. A massive pile-up had demolished several cars and a trendy cafe. An official of the National Prosecutor’s League had ploughed into two teenagers, killing them instantly. A street kid had been squashed by a yuppie reversing his Toyota Fortuner outside the International House of Pancakes. I’d been warned that Manila drivers seldom check their wing mirrors.
Traffic police are a rare sight on Katipunan, but when they do pull someone over they’ll say something like ‘I am Noynoy Aquino’ or ‘I am Jeric Raval’. Such assertions might seem mad; Noynoy Aquino is the President of the Republic and Jeric Raval is a film star, the Filipino Arnold Schwarzenegger. The unsuspecting motorist will wonder if the policeman is suffering from a personality disorder. The more savvy motorist, on the other hand, will know that this is coded language for a bribe. The amount you’re expected to hand over depends on the fame of the celebrity mentioned.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
Specialist publicationThe London Magazine
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2012


  • Philippines
  • postcolonialism
  • traffic networks
  • pollution
  • Manila
  • travel writing


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