It may seem rather unusual to be offering advice on how to navigate a city as a pedestrian, but Manila is not just any city, and walking around can sometimes be a little confusing.
The first thing you have to get used to is that you’re in Asia, and people here do not tend to walk at the same pace as most Europeans. Forget the brisk walk on the way to work in the morning; here you have to learn to stroll or saunter, or else you will spend most of your time weaving in and around the other pedestrians as you constantly overtake them. This gets tiring after a while and it’s much easier to adapt to the culture by simply slowing down. Most of the time it’s extremely hot (especially during the summer days), which means that – having slowed down your walking pace – you won’t sweat as much as you would if you were rushing around.
However, the most important thing to realize is that taking shortcuts by crossing the road where there are no formal crossing points by way of traffic lights or underpasses will usually lead to dead ends (and will only end up making your journey that much more difficult). This is because most roads are lined or flanked by very high barriers, which means that, should you cross the road where there is no recognized crossing point, you’ll then have to jump or climb over the barrier that awaits you on the other side, or walk alongside it for the entire length of the street – with cars brushing past you – until there is a gap.
You also have to accept that, as the roads are so heavy with traffic, when you’re at major junctions where there is a constant flow of vehicles, it is usually better (although it often seems more time consuming) to use the pedestrian bridges or underground passageways that wind their way to the other side.
Basically, you’ll need to learn to have a little patience, to walk a little slower, and generally to follow the other pedestrians rather than trying to forge your own path. On foot, you’ll get to know your way around the city faster, as well as the always welcome bonus of avoiding sitting in traffic.