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Thanks to horrific traffic jams in and around Metro Manila, Filipino concertgoers know how important it is to iron out transportation methods and consider travel time on actual show dates. Case in point: not all ticket-holders were able to catch the finale set of Bruno Mars’ concert at the Philippine Arena in June 2023, as many of them were still stuck on the road.
Mobility has been an issue for millions of Filipinos for years. In fact, Metro Manila even topped the 2023 TomTom Traffic Index list of metro areas with the slowest travel time. According to their data, it takes 25 minutes and 30 seconds on average to travel 10 kilometers in Metro Manila, making it the slowest out of 387 cities across 55 countries worldwide.
And that’s on a regular day. For days with special events, like concerts, when thousands of people are expected to flock to a venue with restricted access points and limited transportation options (sorry, not everyone has the means to ride a chopper to attend a show), you can expect the traffic build-up to be a lot worse.
And what makes this terrible situation even more infuriating is that even the international celebrities headlining these concerts get affected by the gridlock. Here are just some instances:
During the recent concert of British rock band Coldplay at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan, Chris Martin thanked the attendees for braving the infamous Philippine traffic just to see them perform live.
“We’ve seen some traffic. But I think you have the number one [traffic] in the world. Thank you for making the effort to come through all of that bullshit to be here,” he said during the Friday, January 19 show.
And it seemed like Martin really had enough of the congestion problems in the country as he even made an impromptu song about it during their Saturday, January 20 show.
“There is only really one thing that remains. The traffic here in Manila is completely insane. If you wanna drive somewhere, I’m warning you: a two-mile drive will take a week or two. If you wanna get back home in time for your bath, well you should allow yourself a year and a half. We can’t wait to play in Manila again but the traffic here is completely insane,” he sings.
During the Manila leg of his November 2022 The Journey is Everything concert tour, American rapper Russ had to delay the start of the show as many attendees were still stuck in traffic.
“Manila, the traffic is crazy so fans are late [getting] to the venue. My original time was 8:20 but [I’m going to] wait for everyone to show up and go around 8:45/9 [in the evening],” he said.
He was only able to appear onstage past 10 pm, almost two hours from his initial scheduled time.
It was also the same story for South Korean-American rapper Jessi, who also had to delay the start of her September 2022 solo concert at the Mall of Asia Arena due to the heavy traffic on show day.
After starting the concert an hour from its original opening time, Jessi explained to the attendees why there was a delay.
“Thank you for waiting patiently. There was a delay, right? Because it was traffic and I wanted to make sure that all my fans were able to come,” she said.
South Korean-American R&B singer Eric Nam was in the Philippines in August 2023 for a series of promotional activities, and it seemed like the mobility situation in the country was too much for him.
“Manila, your traffic is unmatched,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
Even Songbird Supreme Mariah Carey wasn’t spared from the notorious Manila traffic.
While she was on her way to her concert at the Araneta Coliseum in October 2018, the singer posted a quick photo of the traffic jam on her Instagram stories with the caption: “Stuck in traffic in Manila.”
Another pop superstar who got affected by the traffic situation in the country was Madonna. During her February 2016 concert at the Mall of Asia Arena, the singer poked fun of it by singing: “Traffic in Manila every single fucking day.”
Stars! They’re just like us! – Rappler.com