Having your own transport in the Philippines can sometimes mean you may be “picked on” by Police and authorities for special “fines”, it is just the way it is. Having a motor bike is easy for the police to impound for many reasons and any accidents or issues it is normally always the foreigner at fault.
My friend from the UK is staying here for a few months, and it’s his 5th or 6th visit, so he purchased a motorbike that he keeps here. It is true to say that the rules of the road in the Philippines are a lot different from what the US and the UK have, so it’s important to take your time and get to know the unwritten rules of the road, of which there seem to be thousands.
He has with his bike all the paperwork, all correct insurance and everything is all official, as being a white guy on a bike, he rather sticks out, and has been subject to Police stops that seem to involve money to get on the road again.
But a couple of years ago he had a small incident that really shook him up and showed the pitfalls of being a foreigner on a motorbike.
Another motorbike driver ran into my friend, it was totally his fault, as he was not watching the traffic in front of him, my friend was stationary, and with me on the back too, we remained upright, but the other driver spun and came off his bike, in the middle of the road. Of course, the first thing I did was run from the bike to his assistance, and as soon as he saw that a foreigner was there, he was to say the least surprised.
I got him to his feet and to the side of the road, and all he appeared to have was a grazed foot, but seeing me, he decided he wanted to go to hospital; of course this would cost money, which I doubt he was going to pay for. It’s important not to inflame the situation here, so I said move your bike off the road and we talk, which he did without any problem. Taking the bike off the road was lucky for me, as the rules here are that an accident to which you need to have the Police in attendance, or you need to exchange Insurance details, the vehicles must stay in place, even if that means blocking the road.
When he came back, he started saying he was in pain, and his bike damaged, and he has no money. By now a small crowd gathered, so I just let the arguing start. I went into a shop got some water, and came back.
I asked him why he wanted to go to the Hospital, as he seemed OK. It was my understanding that he wanted some monies for an accident that he caused. Lucky for me the crowd did not seem to be on his side. I STRESS, stay calm all the time, do not let emotions get to you, as this will for sure fire up the situation.
To cut a story short, what was NOT our fault, could have cost hundreds of dollars, but because I maintained my calm and kept talking him down, it cost four dollars for a band aid. If I had shouted and screamed, the crowd would have probably said I was a bossy foreigner, and would have not helped me make the driver aware of what he had done.