A Filipino driver flashed me and my daughter while we were crossing the street. I’m not referring to the flashing that could get one arrested for indecent exposure back in the US. This is a more shocking, more annoying, more rude, more uncivilized, more indecent gesture than someone popping in front of you to bare his privates.
This is how it happened to me. I started crossing the street towards SM City Fairview Mall coming from the mall’s parking lot. I was also pushing a stroller with my baby daughter in it. I was almost halfway across the street, when I saw an oncoming car. The driver and I had eye contact, but instead of slowing down, he actually sped up. Unbelievable! So I paced faster. And then, he flashed his high beam headlights at me, and sped up even more, as if saying “Run! Get out of my way!” I had to run. If I didn’t, I would have gotten hit. Seriously. It’s unconscionable – to put a mom and her daughter’s life in danger just to save a few seconds of their time.
This is not an isolated incident. This happens all time. To me, to my American husband, to my senior citizen parents, to other cars, to disabled people on wheelchairs, to everybody. This “flashing” is the new way that drivers honk their horns. And if you are unaware of it, you might think that the driver is just testing if his headlights are working. Before you know it, you’re seriously injured or worse dead. So, before you become a headline like: Expat dies at hit and run, be forewarned.
I’m guessing that this trend started, like most Filipino bad habits and practices had started, when one speeding driver flashed his lights at a pedestrian or another driver to warn them. Then pretty soon, other drivers, who could also be victims of this act, caught on as they found it an effective method for others to give them way. It’s like “paying forward” but in a negative way.
I’m infuriated at what happened to me, but at the same time saddened that this is the true state of affairs in the Philippines. It is a subtle yet clear indication that Filipino values and traditional practices of hospitality, bayanihan (working together) and pagbibigayan (sharing / giving way) are slowly disappearing. Now, it’s kanya-kanya (every man for himself). In addition, there is so much pressure to go with the flow. So far (and I can say this straight-faced), my husband has resisted flashing. And I’m sure he will continue resisting it, because that’s just his character, and also to be a good example to our children.