In the Philippines they model many things after their counterparts in the United States, but there often remain many differences. Even in those things that at first glance seem to be the same. Often times the appearance or concept are similar, but the implementation is much different.

A case in point would be the sidewalk. I get to do a reasonable amount of walking, especially when I go into the city. It strikes you immediately when you first visit here, but until you live here and try to get around regularly, it doesn’t really sink in. No, the sidewalks here are probably misnamed, at least from my foreign point of view.

There isn’t much mistaking the definition of the two:

sidewalk (ˈsaɪdˌwɔːk) — n
( US ), ( Canadian ) Also called (in Britain and certain other countries): pavement a hard-surfaced path for pedestrians alongside and a little higher than a road

Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009

Sayidwuk n sidewalk, as the place where things are sold. Didtu nákù palita sa sayidwuk, I bought it from a sidewalk vendor.

Wolff, John U. (2012-12-18). A Dictionary of Cebuano Visayan

I feel the Cebuano dictionary is a little incomplete and outdated in it’s definition though. Certainly you will find all sorts of vendors on the sidewalks, even in places where it is not supposed to happen. But, in addition, it seems to be the preferred parking spot, too. No one has any qualms about blocking the sidewalk with their vehicle. You’ll also see power poles and various construction items using this valuable piece of land. It seems to be fair game for just about anything.

Hole by sidewalk PhilippinesIn the Philippines it’s pretty clear that the sidewalks are not intended for walking. In addition to them being nearly impassable, you will find that they are broken, uneven and worse, there are open holes in nearly all of them. You need to be very careful when using them. Put the phone down, and watch where you are walking. I know from experience, as I took a tumble when I stubbed my foot on an area of sidewalk that was a good 6″ higher than the previous spot I was on. At least there was an area to walk in that section of town.

For the most part I end up walking on the road quite a bit. Yes, I have to maneuver around the traffic, and they have no sympathy for pedestrians, but at least most of the roads are smooth. I don’t know the law, but in practice vehicles have the right of way here. Crosswalk or not.

One way or another I get around. Of course it’s easier outside of the city, and that is probably true anywhere. Someday I’ll probably get a multicab and that will open up a whole new set of challenges.

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