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We walked EDSA, an advocacy for a walkable Metro Manila

Welcoming sunrise at Magallanes, Makati
I love walking. Since you're moving at a slower pace, I'm able to look around and discover small cafes, street art, interesting graffiti and plant boxes, things that would normally be a blur when you're inside a vehicle - and to me,that's just as exciting as doing a mountain hike. :)

Imagine my delight when I met other individuals who are willing to spend a Sunday morning to walk along one of the Philippines' major highways!  On October 25, I joined fellow advocates in walking a significant length of EDSA, starting from the giant globe at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay to North EDSA in Quezon City.The goal of the activity, dubbed as #WalkEDSA, was to initiate a discussion on how to make Metro Manila a walkable city. Our group, comprised of 13 individuals from various fields,was led by hiker friend Gideon Lasco of *Global Shapers Community – Manila Hub

Though it was a Sunday, a not so busy day in the city, the activity gave us a glimpse of the challenges fellow pedestrians face. We started walking at 5:00 AM and very early on, I had to take out a towel to protect myself from smoke emitted by the vehicles that passed us. Aside from pollution, we walked on areas that were dirty - trash on sidewalks showing some people's lack of discipline, who treat the road as one big garbage bin. There's also this interesting sidewalk in a section of Makati where only one person can pass which would be challenging for those in a wheelchair;  an overpass that turned into a little market and lastly,  drivers who show no regard for pedestrians, perhaps they're from the same specie of drivers that irks me - those who floor the gas  pedal when they see white lines on a pedestrian crossing. 

The experience was not all negative. Aside from burning 1,500 calories (according to a friend's gadget), it was fun walking areas that had murals (Camp Aguinaldo side), street art along Pasay and portions of EDSA planted with trees and shrubs (Makati and Quezon City,nearing Corinthian Gardens).  It was also fascinating seeing Mary Queen of Peace from the overpass. It's massive! :) Aside from structures, meeting people who make a living in the streets was an awesome experience. 
A very jolly sisig vendor doing the famous "pabebe wave"
(in case you haven't heard about it, it's an #AlDub thing :P Check it on Twitter!)

Philippine National Railways track in Makati
The 21.3 KM route  took us 5 hours, 30 minutes to complete, including our breaks. Gaaah, it was a lot of walking on concrete and as tiring as it was, the amount of time we spent walking gave us plenty of insights about pedestrian welfare.  
street art along EDSA-Pasay side.
After freshening up, we reconvened at Capitol Commons in Pasig for a post event discussion. Each one was given the chance to speak about what they've observed and their ideas on how we can move forward. Gideon provided a well-written summary on Pinoy Mountaineer. Another friend, Ferdz Decena, also shared about his experience on his blog,
The group at SM North EDSA (after we wiped our faces :P, photo from Ferdz Decena)
We've got a long and exciting journey to help make things better for us pedestrians, if you are interested to take part, please "Like" the Walk Manila Facebook Page to get updates on future activities. :) 

The Global Shapers Community is a network of young leaders based in cities all over the world, and #WalkEDSA is the Manila Hubʼs activity for the Communityʼs “Shape
Sustainability” - an initiative that challenges every hub to think of what they can do tomake their cities more sustainable. Walking, with its documented benefits to individual health, urban mobility, social solidarity, and the environment, is certaintly a (literal) steptowards this direction. 

Related Articles on #WalkEDSA:  
CNN - Making Metro Manila "pedestrian friendly"
TopGear Philippines - Pedestrian-safety advocates walks 20KM length of EDSA
Rappler - #WalkEDSA: 9 things I learned from walking the length of EDSA
Philippine Daily Inquirer - To Make Metro Manila Walkable 
Manila Coconuts - This guy walked EDSA on a Sunday. These are 5 of the things they learned.

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