Manila at nightLately I have been enamored with the refreshing pragmatism of the Philippines. Consider the underground passageways as an example. In Makati each intersection has an underground passage way to keep pedestrians out of traffic. It only takes one glance at the crazy traffic to see the common sense of that approach.

The downside to these passageways is obvious – the stairs going in and coming out. Walking several blocks entails many sets of stairs. And this is where the pragmatism surfaces once again. Each underground passage has escalators, but only going up. It’s as if they are saying, “Ok people, we’ll help you up the stairs, but if you can’t even walk down stairs you probably should be taking a taxi or staying home.”

And this pragmatism goes even deeper. These escalators are turned off at night to conserve electricity. I tried to argue against this one based on the number of people I see on the streets even at night, but every time I come up with an argument I hear my elders saying, “Turn off that light if you’re not using it.” or “Close the door, we’re not trying to heat the entire neighborhood.”

It just makes sense, and as I wander the streets at night the motionless escalators seem to assure me, “If you’re crazy enough to be out at this hour, a few stairs won’t kill you.”