Have you ever hitchhiked? Most Filipinos haven’t, if only because there is a lot of public transportation here. For destinations unreachable by local jeepneys, there are pedicabs (pedal-powered, three-wheeled vehicle) and tricycles (gasoline-powered), not to mention skylabs (single motorcycles which can seat up to seven persons) and rail carts.
Still, some tourists have tried. Artyom Babayan, a 25-year-old musician, traveler, and journalist from Armenia, is used to hitchhiking in Europe and Asia, and he also did it when he traveled to Northern Philippines. He started hitchhiking on the North Luzon Expressway, got picked up by the police there (pedestrians are not allowed on NLEX) and got dropped off in the national road where he hitchhiked his way to Ifugao Province. He was a foreigner, and that attracted the attention of people who offered him free rides in cars, jeepneys, and even commercial buses.
The one thing he remembers most was when he was entering the Cordilleras. The local police helped him flag down a military truck, and he rode with two soldiers, with the muzzle of the M-16 pointing at him. He got a bit scared but he got over it when they began singing Beatles songs.
“Imagine me in a military truck riding in Cordilleras with two soldiers holding an M-16,” he said, “singing together ‘All you need is love, all you need is love.’ That kind of a ride is something that I will never forget.”
Ori, a 31-year-old German traveler and also another Couchsurfing member, tried to hitchhike in Cebu and Negros. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. According to him, there was a lot of local traffic and he thought that given all the hassles, short distance travel was just not worth the effort.
If you do choose to hitchhike here, travel writer Edgar Alan Zeta Yap gives the following tips:
- If possible, don’t hitchhike alone.
- Choose vehicles that you can easily hop on and off, like pick-ups or trucks.
- Establish a connection with the driver (and passengers, if any). Start a friendly conversation.
- Trust your gut feel about people. If the person/s who offers you a ride creeps you out, find a smart excuse to decline the offer or, if you are in the vehicle, to get off.
- Be alert—don’t fall asleep!
Do you have any hitchhiking tips and stories to tell? Please feel free to share it with us here!