James Squire Rogue Tales stories: conquering Manila’s notorious EDSA highway

EDSA is a 15 mile stretch of highway that serves as the main thoroughfare of Metro Manila – a mega metropolis home to 11.8 million people. If you’ve heard of hellish stories about Philippine traffic, the usual suspect would be EDSA. Dan Brown once called Manila as The Gates of Hell. He must have referred to our favourite highway.

Two friends and I decided to go on an adventure. To go through hell and back. The plan: start at the north end of EDSA, then walk all the way down to the southern end. The point of this endeavour: none.

We met up at the mall, made preparations, took photos, and finally set out into the dark and smoggy night. We soon found out that EDSA isn’t a place for midnight strolls. There were beggars and illegal vendors everywhere. There were beer houses with their prostitutes inviting us to come in for a drink.

We could barely see anything in the dimly-lit sidewalks. More so under the flyovers, where drug addicts and dealers nested. We brought weapons though, for protection. My two friends brought a nightstick and a gun. I had the deadliest one, a Swiss knife.

The speeding cars and buses battered us with their clouds of smoke and dust. Our eyes hurt and our lungs gasped. We had to seek refuge and rest at every gas station we came across. Our tired feet told us to quit. We’ve been walking for hours. One of us said, “Doing this was a stupid idea.” The two of us agreed. This was just at the midway point.

But we soldiered on. Early in the journey, we had fun, with hearty conversations. Now, all were silent. We were like zombies, mindlessly walking to get to our destination. It was so sad, it was getting hilarious. Everything we passed by started looking the same; dark alleys, piles of trash, homeless people, karaoke bars, an endless highway. Our own personal Gates of Hell.

After 7 hours, we arrived at our destination: The Mall of Asia, the 11th biggest mall in the world. There were no celebrations for us, just a sigh of relief that it was over. It was already 3am, and our tired and worn-out bodies craved for our beds. We took the bus going home.

We tried to find a moral lesson in all of this. We came up with things like camaraderie, fulfilling our mission, never giving up. Stuff like that. Oh wait, I have one: Never walk the entire stretch of a 15 mile highway, unless you want to prove to Dan Brown that he was right.

The James Squire Rogue Tales stories
James Squire (1754 – 1822) is a hero in Australian folklore, and rightly so: this ex-convict is, after-all, the father of the Australian brewing industry, having been credited with establishing Australia’s first commercial brewery in 1798. His rugged, rougue-ish legend lives on today in the image of the James Squire man, mould-breakers who push boundaries to achieve great things. In this vein, we present the James Squire ‘Rogue Tales’ stories, a series of videos featuring risk takers and the tales behind their success, as seen in this initial video teaser above.