One thing that Filipinos complain about is traffic. It’s been said that Metro Manila traffic is such a terrible experience it even gave birth to the term “carmageddon”. As such, it is a daily occurrence that impacts negatively on the Philippines, image- and economics-wise. In fact, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has projected that the country stands to lose up to P6 billion a day in 2030 due to the worsening traffic congestion.

Given the situation, Filipinos endure being stuck in traffic daily, many reacted negatively when Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade was misquoted to saying, “Metro Manila traffic is just a state of mind.” In a statement clarifying the issue, Transportation Assistant Secretary for Communications Cherie Mercado-Santos explained that Sec. Tugade meant that “the prevailing Filipino psyche of using traffic as an excuse must be changed.   That kind of state of mind that automatically uses traffic as an excuse, unnecessarily adds to the problem of traffic.”

It is in this context—of the Filipino psyche on traffic—that Dowayo Foresight and the De La Salle- College of St. Benilde Hub of Innovation for Inclusion (DLS-CSB HiFi) anchor their human-centered research innovation project on Metro Manila traffic. Their project seeks to humanize the traffic situation in the Philippines, taking into consideration the values, aspirations, and emotions of Filipino citizens living in such everyday reality.

“The traffic problem [in the Philippines] is a challenge that is mostly viewed from an infrastructure and policy angle. HiFi and Dowayo felt that a clear appreciation of the issue from citizen perspectives, emotions, aspirations, and insights of everyone affected by it is necessary,” says DSL-CSB HiFi Director Abigail Cabanilla

Driven by the curiosity to empathize with the issue from a human-centered motivation, Dowayo and DLS-CSB HiFi conducted a research up close and as near as possible to people and their ways, paying special attention to the ordinary, everyday things they do. As a studio specializing in service design and strategic foresighting from a human-centered perspective, Dowayo puts social behavior as a factor to the traffic equation and in search of its solutions.

One significant insight that sprung from their 12-day research is “Lovability is more valuable than livability.” Their study shows that a better urban experience meant not just living in the city, but loving it. It posits that when you begin to love the city, living in it would be more bearable, enabling one to empathize better, and make it easier to provide pragmatic solutions to its issues.

Cabanilla further explains, “By shedding light and deeper understanding on the core needs and values of Metro Manila citizens, efforts toward inclusive mobility and urban renewal will nurture love for place and people - a value that goes beyond the functional service of livability.”

The Design Center of the Philippines, an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry leading in the promotion of good design, supports Dowayo and DLS-CSB’s efforts on finding non-infrastructure solutions to the issue. “The Design Center is happy to be part of this project because it’s methodology is rooted in design thinking in order to reframe the problem and come up with solutions for a key socio-economic issue of the country,” Ms. Rhea Matute, Officer-in-Charge of Design Center, shares.  “Our Traffic Way of Life provides a new perspective on design as an innovative tool for enhancing the quality of human life and this compliments the mandate of Design Center.”

The Dowayo-DLS-CSB HiFi research concludes in a concept development and prototyping workshop on 27 February to 02 March 2017 in the School of Design and Arts Campus of DLS-CSB. Student participants developed concept prototypes offering alternative solutions to the traffic issue such as gamification of individual traffic impact, creation of inclusive mobility movements, encouraging socialization and exploration through public transport commuting, and reinvention of traditional modes of transport while highlighting local flavor and culture among others. These concept prototypes will be featured in an exhibit at the Design Center of the Philippines, CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City on 03 March 2017.

“Our Traffic Way of Life” Seminar/Exhibit will be complemented by four innovative products for transportation services: Salamander, an amphibious flood-faring utility vehicle; Nyfti, a compact foldable bicycle with a 3-fold frame; and the eJeep and eQuad, one of the first public transport of their kind in Southeast Asia. These transport innovations were recognized by Design Center of the Philippines as Design Solutions for Mobility in March 2015.

The research team of “Our Traffic Way of Life” is comprised of design researchers from Dowayo and DLS-CSB HiFi. DLS-CSB HiFi through the Peter D. Garrucho Innovation Institute embraces the key role of education in social transformation through human-centered research and innovation. Social designer and DLS-CSB HiFi director Abigail Mapua-Cabanilla and her team work with innovators that shape society’s preferred futures. DLS-CSB HiFi partnered with Dowayo and the Spanish Embassy of the Philippines/Instituto de Cervantes de Manila to surface deep insights in the field of social innovation. Dowayo’s Asier Pérez and Jan Heijting are experts in hands-on service design and strategic foresighting whose global portfolio includes Movistar, Converse, Philips and Sara Lee. “Our Traffic Way of Life” is an initiative within the framework of the ACERCA Programme on Training for the Development of the Cultural Sector of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and with the collaboration of the International Latin American Foundation for Public Administration and Policies (FIIAPP).


The Design Center of the Philippines (Design Center PH) is the leading agency committed to promoting the use of good design in improving the quality and competitiveness of Philippine products and services, and in strengthening the Philippine design industry. For more information, please visit or contact them at