Metro Manila by Rail

by Kiko Matsing

Metropolitan Manila (Metro Manila) encompasses 17 townships, so it is a challenge to get around, especially for one who lives in the south (Parañaque) and works in the north (Quezon City). It can take more than a couple of hours to navigate the 15.5-mile (25-km) route due to traffic congestion.

Metro Manila

The most efficient way, I found, was to do most of the trip by rail, starting with the PNR (Philippine National Railways, Orange Line) train from Bicutan to EDSA/Magallanes, an MRT-3 (Metro Rail Transit, Blue Line) train to Araneta Center-Cubao, then finally an MRT/LRT-2 (Light Rail Transit, Purple Line) train to Katipunan.

The trip takes just about an hour, including walk/wait times between stations. The only hitch is the congestion inside the rail cars* during peak hours. Be prepared to be intimate with your fellow man and mindful of pickpockets. It also helps to have a stored-value ticket on hand to breeze through the turnstiles.

This, however, does not include getting out of Better Living Subdivision, where we live, to go to the Bicutan PNR station. That can take from 20-40 min, depending on the traffic along Doña Soledad Ave. I would either hitch a ride with my brother-in-law when he goes to work, or have Tatay drive me there. Otherwise, it would have to be the dreaded tricycle. Ugh!


From SM Bicutan, where I get dropped off, there are elevated pedestrian walkways across South Luzon Expressway that takes you directly to the PNR train station–a legacy of former MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) chairman Bayani Fernando, who obsessed about traffic efficiency.

On the other hand, the short walk from the Katipunan MRT-2 station is the nightmare leg of the trip. The pollution from jeepney congestion along Aurora Boulevard is horrendous, and the buildings on that corner (St. Bridget School) all but encroached on the sidewalk that pedestrians sometimes need to occupy the street.

Jeepney mess

It is not advisable to take the tricycle to Ateneo. They force you to go solo, which costs PHP25–an exorbitant fee considering the distance serviced. Furthermore, the drivers are also reckless, zig-zagging between cars and going over the sidewalks. You are also seated so low in a tricycle that you’re practically inhaling exhaust directly from tailpipes. Disgusting.

Under the base of the Katpunan fly-over, among street hawkers, is the station of jeepneys that finally takes me to Ateneo’s Gate 3. Thus begins another work day at the university.