Southeast Asia FLAS fellow Christine Lu, an undergraduate student in International Studies, writes about her summer in Manila in the Philippines:
“I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in the Philippines in an intensive Tagalog language course.
One common mode of transportation in the Philippines are vans. They are regular vans that can seat up to fourteen passengers. They are usually air-conditioned, and there are four total rows in the van. Drivers usually drive from one city to another and have a sign posted in the window to their final destination. People look for and catch these vans on the main roads. Unlike in the U.S. where there are bus stops every so often along a route, there are no designated stops in the Philippines. If you see a van going to where you need to go, you flag it down. If the van has too many people to your liking, you just wait for the next one.
Another transportation option in the Philippines are terminals in popular locations. For example, Mall Of Asia was a terminal I frequently transferred at to get home from my classes in Manila. You would look for a sign indicating the destination that you needed to go to, then pay the person. You would then be handed a chip and told which van to ride in. Costs were around 40-60 pesos per person depending on how far you were going. The vans would leave once all the seats have been filled.
A risky thing about the vans is being registered with the LGBRT, an organization for transportation. If the van is officially registered and licensed, the driver of the van has a yellow license plate and the appropriate stickers. However, since there are limited spaces in the organization, a lot of drivers drive a private vehicle as a public one. If caught, the fine would be 300000 pesos for breaking the law of having no registration.”
FLAS Fellowships are funded by the International and Foreign Language Education office of the U.S. Department of Education. FLAS fellowships support undergraduate, graduate and professional students in acquiring modern foreign languages and area or international studies competencies. Students from all UW departments and professional schools are encouraged to apply. Find out more about the FLAS Fellowship here.