Why driving feels like freedom

Ryan Macasero

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Why driving feels like freedom
Despite the chaos, I still feel the most clear, alert and alive behind the wheel

There’s something about driving that feels like nothing else in the world to me. 

After moving to Metro Manila two years ago, and relying on public transportation and taxis in Manila, I’m glad to be behind the wheel again. The joy I find in driving is not one many here can relate to. After all, who wants to drive in the clogged, polluted, chaotic and sometimes anarchic, streets of Metro Manila? Well after 3 weeks of driving again, I still do.

Of course, when I’m in a hurry – I find myself shouting at the top of my lungs, to the thousands of drivers who can’t hear me, to “get the f… out of my way!” In hopes that if there is a God of the road, that He would part the way for me. (Unfortunately, I know I’m not Moses, and I can’t part the Red Sea. Bummer.)

But despite the chaos, I still feel the most clear, alert, and alive behind the wheel.

It might be the American side of me. I was born and raised in a country where you can drive for hours and hours and the road seems to never end.

When I get behind the wheel, I feel like I am in charge of my own destiny – and not at the mercy of a cab, bus, FX or any other driver. When I am driving, I am in charge. And in life, that’s where I want to remain: in charge.

In times of trouble, uncertainty and confusion, I always know what to do: grab my car keys, rev up the engine, and just drive. It doesn’t matter where, it doesn’t matter for how long.

When troubled, I didn’t really want to go anywhere, but at the same time, I wanted to go somewhere.

It is behind the wheel that hazy thoughts become clearer, that paralyzing decisions I’ve been putting off are made, and directions found.

And after two years of living in Manila, a good drive is just what I needed to make sense of life.

About a week ago, I felt lost, confused and was ready to surrender. Thankfully, I have a car to drive now – so what did I do? You guessed it, I got behind the wheel, rolled the windows down, breathed in the fresh countryside air, and just drove.

I went from Rizal to Batangas, and while I was driving, the past two years went flashing through my mind. The sacrifices I’ve made to be here, to work for (what was then) a small start-up company to now one of the top 3 news sites in the Philippines.

Has working here for much less than I’m used to been worth it? The friends, family and love I sacrificed – was it worth it? Have the things I’ve done in the past two years meant anything to anyone? The answers came clear as day: Yes, yes and yes.

First, my life’s meaning is not attached to my bank account. The sacrifices have been rewarded with even greater experiences that most people can only dream of or watch in movies. To the overseas Pinoys we’ve been able to give voice to, especially the migrant worker communities – our work does mean something.

There have been many mornings where I’ve found it tough to believe in myself, and worry that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. But it is the people I have a chance to work with every day who keep me going and believing that we are on to something big. And that I need to stop whining, suck it up and keep moving forward. What is that something? I don’t know yet.

But just like driving, the point isn’t always about being certain about where you are going. It is about not being stuck because you don’t know where you are going. Just keep moving even if you are uncertain, be patient, and pay attention to the signs around you, because you will get to your destination, eventually. In the meantime, just enjoy the ride. – Rappler.com 

Ryan Macasero is Rappler’s #BalikBayan Editor.

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Nobuhiko Matsunaka


Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at ryan.macasero@rappler.com