Bruno Mars, whose mother is Filipino, delighted his Pinoy fans by incorporating Filipino phrases like “Miss na kita, mahal” (I missed you, love) and “Masaya ako na makita ko kayo!” (I’m happy to see you all!) into his stage banter — one of the highlights of his two-day concert in the country.
Yet many fans attending his concert did not even get to witness this event at the Philippine Arena, as they expressed their frustrations online with the heavy traffic they encountered on their way to and from the venue.
The Grammy Award-winning artist, known for his chart-topping hits such as Uptown Funk, Leave the Door Open, 24K Magic, and Versace on the Floor among others, held two shows on June 24 and 25, marking his fourth performance in his mother’s homeland.
The Philippine Arena, located in the neighboring municipality of Bocaue in Bulacan province, is a 20-kilometer drive from Metro Manila and is accessible through the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). Yet come concert day, NLEX, a main thoroughfare that connects Metro Manila to provinces in Central Luzon, was bogged down by an intense traffic jam.
Television host Maine Mendoza, musician Paolo Valenciano, and ABS-CBN reporter Shiela Reyes shared their own accounts of the challenging commute on social media. Maine lamented that she only caught the last two songs of Bruno’s performance, questioning whether previous concerts at the venue had faced similar issues.
Meanwhile, Paolo said that his group had been on the road for more than two hours in Manila, with a screenshot of his Waze app showing that it would take his group an additional one hour and 42 minutes to arrive at the venue.
“I guess we’ll just watch on TikTok,” he wrote with a clown emoji.
Shiela, in her concert review, described the traffic to the venue as “brutal,” noting that the gridlock on the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) caused anxiety for many fans who were afraid of missing a significant portion of the concert.
Reports surfaced of fans walking along NLEX just to make it to the venue on time, while others voiced their discontent on Twitter, suggesting that concerts should no longer be held at the Philippine Arena due to the recurring traffic problems. Some even shared their past experiences at the venue, citing the stress and inconvenience they faced.
However, there were also Twitter users who pointed out that arriving early could have mitigated the traffic-related issues. They referred to the punctuality of K-pop fans who often arrive hours before a show starts.
The Philippine Arena, known as one of the world’s largest indoor arenas with a seating capacity of 55,000, has become a popular choice for event organizers, including concert producers. Situated in Bocaue, Bulacan, the venue is commonly accessed via NLEX by those traveling from Metro Manila. To address transportation challenges, concert organizers such as Live Nation have arranged shuttle services to and from the venue.