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How To Drive Like An Idiot In Bacolod – Now Available

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Reviews on Amazon

5.0 out of 5 stars Buy This Book To Save Your Life – Seriously, I’m not joking, if you want to survive in the Philippines, March 13, 2016
Gerald Wennerstrom
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This review is from: How To Drive Like An Idiot In Bacolod: An Expat’s Experiences of Driving in the Philippines and How to Survive (Kindle Edition)

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I have lived in the Philippines for almost two years. I’ve been to Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Manila, Cebu, Bacolod and Valencia City. Steve’s book ‘
How To Drive Like An Idiot In Bacolod’ covers about 98% of the Philippines. Steve paints the picture exactly how it is. If you plan on coming to the Philippines buy this book as your guide to driving. Pleased, also heed his warning about driving at night – very dnagerous. My wife and I have a car, but I do not drive, she does – and I have given up attempting to teach her the ‘proper way’ to drive.He is also correct about the wonderful people here. The smiles are wonderful, in fact infectious 🙂 The Filipinos are wonderful to be with – I should know I fell in love with the most wonderful Filipina. Come to the Philippines and enjoy some of the best people on the Earth. You won’t be disappointed – but don’t drive yourself 🙂

5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opening look at the way Filipinos drive, from a foreigner’s perspective, April 26, 2016
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This review is from: How To Drive Like An Idiot In Bacolod: An Expat’s Experiences of Driving in the Philippines and How to Survive (Kindle Edition)

 Format: Kindle Edition

I honestly didn’t appreciate the title because Filipinos aren’t idiots. We just drive a certain way because if we didn’t, we’d never get anywhere on time. Or at all. We just have a gung-ho attitude about getting someplace, though we also have a laissez-faire attitude about it as well.

At the same time, I can’t fault the author. From an outsider’s point of view, it’s crazy out there on the streets of Bacolod or any big city in the Philippines. If you’re visiting from a country where everyone follows the rules on the road, then you’re better off having a driver take you around the city. You’re probably better off closing your eyes, too, as your driver runs a red light because he says it’s clear.

Still, it was refreshing to read Bentley’s apparent shock that there are no rules when it comes to driving in the Philippines, just as there are hardly any road markings visible to the naked eye, or that even though there may be signs that say “Keep Right,” no one keeps right.

I appreciated the pictures he included, as well as links to videos that show the reader what he’s talking about. His love for the country and its people is evident, and I appreciated that as well. Filipinos’ driving habits may stump many a foreign visitor like him, but this book shows that their hospitality and resilience amidst everything else is one reason he still calls it home.

I received this book from the author in return for an honest review.

How to Drive Like an Idiot in Bacolod is close to becoming available in all good bookstores, as they say! I had an email from the good people at BookTango today to tell me it is a step closer to publication. Yay!

It will be available for download in all eBook formats at USD $4.99 from the BookTango bookstore and online resellers’ sites, like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  So please check back here to find out when it is available.

What’s the Book About?

Author Stephen Bentley tells of his experiences as a British expat in facing the culture shock of driving on the roads of Bacolod in the Philippines. “How to Drive Like an Idiot in Bacolod” includes real-life examples of some of the idiotic driving seen on Bacolod’s highways. They are not isolated cases but indicative of the chaos on the streets.  The author catalogues a list of defensive driving tips based on his impressive credentials as a driver including a background as a UK police-trained driver. This advice helps both Bacolod residents and travelers alike in how to survive in the midst of chaos.

“… From drivers, pedestrians and the ubiquitous city street vendors, we can learn more than just a thing or two on how we should conduct ourselves safely on the road from the characteristically tongue-in-cheek British wit and sometimes audaciously blunt observations of the author as he manoeuvres in Bacolod traffic. 

Next to getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, this is the closest you can get to experience “How to Drive Like an Idiot in Bacolod.” – R. BUTCH S. BACAOCO, Former Editor-in-Chief, Sun.Star Bacolod Newspaper

This is an excerpt from the first chapter –

This is a selection of unedited comments left on my blog in reaction to my original articles:

Great piece, Steve! Incisive and detailed. We need an “outsider” to remind us that the everyday traffic practices we have become used to are wrong. Now you know why I prefer to take taxis or have a driver when I move around the city and the province.” – Butch

“Good to hear someone not a Filipino by blood noticed all of the above. Drivers here ignored all of that because policy is only policy it was not implemented. If it is implemented strictly i guess our place will be like davao cebu iloilo and manila. Example for that is the policy of “do not cross” still people used to violate that because even the traffic enforcer ignored the policy instead they just watching people crossing the heavy traffic area like in the robinson. Overpass is just one of the landmark.” – Alaniep

“Interesting article, and appreciated. My Filipina wife and I who have been together now for nearly 35 years recently retired here to the Bacolod area and adjusting to driving conditions here after most of our lifetime spent in the states where consideration for pedestrians was ingrained, for instance, has been a bizarre adjustment.

While there are certainly more issues to traffic safety than what has been considered common courtesy in America here in Bacolod, one could easily surmise that the complete lack of working traffic signals or arterial stop signs might be another. I am not a major social reformer and frankly, as a guest in this country, far be it from me to overly criticize local driving habits.

While my wife has had a harder time adjusting to street driving here (mainly being in the passenger seat when I’M driving), I have found the experience of driving much more exhilarating and awakening than in the states where laws, ordinances, street signs, traffic cameras, ubiquitous police, and angry pedestrians who might curse you if their ‘rights’ are affected by your own inattention on the road.

One can almost enter a fugue state of relaxation when driving in America. Ingrained respect for pedestrians, usually giving the right of way automatically; arterial stop signs; traffic lights; well-paved roads…the list goes on. Here, as soon as I am behind the wheel of our largish Innova, I am more alert than I ever have been as a driver in the States.

Intersections with no stop lights? I’m looking left, right, front and once again as I enter. Driving on Lacson, ostensibly a two-lane road for each side? Usually three lanes, with ‘straddlers’ in the middle, looking for opportunity. Pedestrians jaywalking? Well, these I’ve learned generally realize that no one is going to stop for them (even if in crosswalks) and no doubt would take the harder result of interaction with a two-ton vehicle, consequently they are as much aware of their circumstances as I am, when driving. I have been advised to not stop for the jaywalkers or even the crosswalk pedestrians because such action could be very surprising to any car behind you who might end up smacking you from the side or behind as a result!

I am consequently loathe to fool with things here vis a vis road rules. I expect that there might be some laws passed that might make it a violation to be a jeepney driver at night and…say, not have your Headlights turned on! Is there one? One might hope that common sense would prevail…nighttime; turn on your headlights, but for most jeepney drivers this is not done. This only makes me an even more cautious driver at night, particularly at intersections.

I don’t have an answer to the problem of safety on the streets here, having only driven extensively in a few European countries, USA, and Japan. Here in Bacolod I am probably a better driver…or more conscientious driver than I ever had to be before. Whether I ever enter a ‘fugue state’ when driving, even if at a consequently higher rate of alertness (if such is possible) I don’t know. I enjoyed the article, but am not sure if much can be done.” – Chris


Two words describe the mentality or state of mind of most Filipino drivers: ignorance and stupidity.

I can understand that you find it so difficult to put up with the bad driving habits of people in Negros. I also do find that most drivers there are senseless. And I am from Negros.

Having spent some time working abroad, going through proper training and education for drivers and driving under strictly applied rules have improved my driving habits, skills and techniques.

However, this has lead me to unconsciously expect the same from other drivers, even when in Negros.

Perhaps, we may be expecting too much from other drivers who have not gone through similar level of training and education in driving that we have been through and we have to forgive their ignorance. However, I myself cannot have the same patience when confronted with their stupidity or rudeness which makes me go ballistic and I cannot blame you for swearing. Proper education for drivers has to be initiated by the government and strict imposition of traffic rules should be the norm if we want to have safer roads. I hope your articles are read by those who can make the difference.

As to your freakin swearing, it may have better impact on the readers if you can also write it in the vernacular.

Cheers.”  – Joemel 

“Great Article sir,Im now an OFW here in the middle east, as a Bacolodian driver myself I was strucked by your observations. I once drove to drop off a friend from bacolod to talisay (both drunk) lol.. Your right,Proper education on driving & rules should be enforced through strict channeling that comes from the LTO.

Thanks for the enlightenment & be careful when driving there stephen & watch out for the cutting jeepneys & taxis :-)” – Pantera

“sir stephen, i am with you with regards to the attitude of drivers here in negros. i am also a negrosanon. the problem here is not about drivers of private vehicles. it is the drivers of public vehicles. particularly those drivers that doesn’t own the vehicle that they are driving. for trailer trucks, if you notice they are not stopped on the checkpoint because they are owned by certain rich negrosanon. the same goes with the bus liners. the law enforcers are afraid to check on them. the famous the owner, the lesser their vehicles will be checked or not at all. hope this can help you…” – Roy

“You are spot on left the sub division this pm to go to SM under cut as I pulled on to National Highway by some one who was also leaving su b division. Then in Banago almost hit by pick up that appeared from no where at speed. to cut a long story short 6 near misses on one journey. no traffic police no driving test its a mad house and they if you talk to them believe they are the best drivers in the world” – Neill

City of Smiles

By now I hope you have a flavor for this book. The driving habits here are no longer a cause for me to rant. I have learned that ranting and raving do no good at all! It certainly is not good for my blood pressure.

It is somewhat paradoxical that the idiot driving to be witnessed daily here in Bacolod is in sharp contrast to the real nature of Bacolodnons.

It is not for nothing that Bacolod is known as the City of Smiles. The locals always have a smile ready for you. Couple that with the Illongo lilting dialect and it paints the complete picture of a happy, smiling populace. No matter what their particular hardships are, and many do suffer hardship in one guise or another, they smile their way through life.

So why the metamorphosis and what happens when they get behind a steering wheel?

I know as the author I’m a little biased but it’s a good read and at $4.99 it may save your life and those of your loved ones if you drive anywhere in the Philippines.

Be safe!

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