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25 truths about Metro Manila
« on: April 23, 2012, 05:29:00 PM »
25 truths about Metro Manila

CITY SENSE By Paulo Alcazaren (The Philippine Star) Updated July 24, 2011 12:00 AM

Metro Manila is hard to define, especially if it’s in your face every traffic-infested, pollution-choking, crime-riddled day. But it is, at the same time, one of the most interesting metropolises in the world today; otherwise we would be on the next plane out of here.

It is an important part of The Philippine STAR’s mission to help readers figure out what’s real and
what’s not in the premier metropolis of the Philippines. So here are 25 undeniable truths about Manila
 (from this point on, for brevity, I will refer to Metro Manila as Manila):





1. Manila is big. At over 600 square kilometers in area, it is larger than Kuala Lumpur and about as large as Singapore and Jakarta. Population-wise, however, Manila with its 11 million souls (not counting the million or so living under bridges and flyovers) is among the largest in the world. With no population management policy we will hit the top three ranking probably in a few years. Expect all the attendant problems with a few more million neighbors soon.

2. Manila is a polluted city. Unless we convert to LPG and electric vehicles, build more sewage treatment plants, solve our solid-waste problem, clean our esteros and rivers… we will drown in chemical and biological excrement within a decade.


Manila has a grand bay and waterways that compare to the Seine and the canals of Venice but we fill them up with garbage and gunk.


3. Manila is flood-prone. Speaking of drowning… there is no denying that Manila is a flood and disaster-prone metropolis. Year-in and year-out the rains come and it floods… and the floods are getting worse. The solution lies in addressing a much larger regional context, of course, but living in Manila is like that movie Groundhog Day, with recurring events… but no happy ending. And then there are the earthquakes...

4. Manila is the billboard capital of the world. We have no architecture or views left in the city. We only have billboards. No matter how creatively crafted the images on them are, all billboards are ugly because they blight the city and pester us relentlessly with their unwanted messages. The only thing useful, probably, is it teaches our children anatomy; what with all the practically naked bodies on display.


Manila used to have street signs but they have disappeared, are covered by billboards or changed every other year.

5. Manila is the crime capital of Southeast Asia. If billboards don’t fall on you or your car, and floods don’t sweep you away… carnappers will run off with your vehicle, rob you of your cell phones, enter your homes or accost you in public places. And the perception is that those who are supposed to protect us are at least connected with the ones that do us harm.

6. Manila is a subdivided city. By this I mean we are full of “subdivisions” or gated communities. Like in the olden days of Intramuros, we have to erect walls within which we live shielded from numbers 2 to 5 above and more. The failure of government to provide security, garbage collection, parks and planning leads us to pay a hefty price for these dwellings within private “village” walls.

7. Manila is wrongly governed. This subdivision is also a reality with the metropolitan governance. Seventeen towns and cities make up the metropolis of Manila. All are ruled by fiercely independent mayors (and many of their families). Almost all hate each other, much less talk to each other or cooperate to solve common problems. Crime, pollution and floods do not recognize political boundaries.

8. Manila is a dark city. This is an amazing fact, despite the presence of a multitude of fancy lighting fixtures with multi-colored lights. That is all for show and most functional lighting is lacking or ill-maintained. Darkness breeds crime, accidents and disorder. Who wants to stay or visit a dark metropolis?

9. Manila is a noisy city. Noise is everywhere in the city. The roads are filled with the constant honking of vehicle horns. The malls are filled with loud muzak and heaven help the shopper if there’s an event going on. Speaker clusters three stories high are powered with stand-alone generators to ensure your eardrums are pounded. Even in convenience stores and cafes, the music is pumped up so loud the baristas or clerks have to shout over the din. Poor Manila, the politicians are all dumb and the populace all deaf.


Manila is a colorful but smelly city.

10. Manila is a rough city. The roads are rough, the public spaces are rough. It’s rough and tough to move from your LRT or MRT stations to your FX or bus. Buses are rough old remnants of Japanese or Korean cities. Walking in the city is rough, tough and dangerous to life and limb. It’s so rough out there that shoes wear out quickly (many women bring a second pair of shoes to wear inside their offices if they have to “commute.”)

11. Manila is a stinky city. Manila’s roads smell of jeepney diesel mixed with the scent of grilled chicken. The pavements smell of sputum mixed with piss. The waterways smell of excreta mixed with chemicals toxic enough to melt metal. And there’s always something fishy in the air at government offices.

12. Manila has a lousy airport complex. Who would want to visit us again after going through the unpleasant experience of landing at NAIA, with its three unconnected terminals, its stinky toilets, mile-long customs queues, and traffic-clogged surrounds? The complex is too near the city, lacks basic equipment and its flight controllers are overworked and underpaid.


Manila used to have the most modern airport in Asia but that was a half a century ago.

13. Manila is not a favored tourist destination. Sad to say (and I am helping some arms of the Department of Tourism) our city is not on the “A” list. Most tourists come to the Philippines via Manila. Our two plus million visitors are nowhere the eight, 10, 14 and 18 million yearly visitors in our neighboring countries of Southeast Asia.

14. Manila has a lousy transport system. There is no metropolitan planning, the city governments don’t talk to each other, the DPWH does not talk to anyone, and private developers prefer to “master plan” their developments independent of the real world. Streets are widened by cutting trees and eliminating sidewalks. LRTs and MRTs are all of different makes and are badly interconnected. We rely on padyaks, FXs and vestiges of WWII — jeepneys.

15. Manila has no sidewalks. Instead, what used to be sidewalks are turned into parking bays, vending areas, toilets, storage lots, religious grottos, and even barangay halls. The remaining space is used by a zillion utility poles so pedestrians are forced to use the road and many end up road kill.

16. Manila has few good signs. A well-signed city is easy to navigate. There are hundreds of thousands of billboards, banners, streamers all over the metropolis competing with the few way-finding signs that should tell us where to go, where to park, where to walk and where things are. No, the only visible signs tell us what to wear, eat or drink, what to own and where to live, and which politician’s territory you are in. If you do find a street sign, however, it’s probably changed, so that you never really know where you are.


Manila has no more architecture, only billboards.

17. Manila is a disappearing city. Buildings disappear behind billboards, sidewalks disappear because of vendors, parks disappear because of countless basketball courts and ridiculous monuments, manholes and railings disappear to the junk shop, drainage canals disappear under shanties, sanity disappears underneath the chaos of government inutility mixed with real estate greed.

18. Despite all the negatives there are positive truths (sort of). First, Manila has wonderful waters. It has a magnificent bay as panoramic as San Francisco’s and as expansive as Tokyo’s. Manila has a great river that can be as great as the Seine, the Thames, the Potomac or the Chao Praya. We have a canal system that could rival Venice’s. We just have to stop dumping garbage in all of them.


We’ve known it floods in Manila for centuries but still we refuse to deal with the problem.

19. Manila is a festive city. We have fiestas and festivals year round in all our barangays, villages and communities old and new. We know how to celebrate and do it at the drop of a hat. Now, only if we could harness this eventfulness within a better framework of public spaces, plazas and parks instead of closing down roads, creating traffic or celebrating within the confines of shopping complexes during artificially-created holidays whilst forgetting more culturally-relevant dates.

20. Manila is a cultural and heritage-filled city. Aside from fiestas and festivals, we have both tangible and non-tangible heritage, our songs and dances, our traditions and practices, our structures from each era of our urban existence, the places and districts embedded in our history as a city and as a metropolis. Now if we could only stop the wanton destruction of heritage buildings, the erasure of place names and the replacement of traditional setting of community with ersatz simulacra of other places, other peoples and other ideologies.


Manila was the fashion capital of Asia but now we’ve lost out to Singapore and Hong Kong.

21. Manila is an entertainment city. We sing, we dance, we entertain. Our music, theater and performing arts overflow from everywhere. Now if only we could provide enough venues and support for local talent instead of having to import Motown musical has-beens, teenage pop stars and even classical musicians. We do have enough comedians and stand-up comedy — just go to Congress or the Senate, or many of our courts, for proof. But we do have to get rid of Willie Revillame.

22. Manila is a hospitable city. Like all Filipinos, we are all friendly and love to show visitors a good time. We are a party people. We enjoy dining and drinking, karaoke and camaraderie, nights out and gimmick places, watering holes and barkada beer houses. Tourists will come and we will all enjoy our party lives more if our streets are safe, if restaurant districts are well-maintained and brightly-lit, if we build more hotels and pedestrian-oriented places, if we can receive our visitors in airports that smell good, are efficient and safe.

23. Manila is a smart city. The metropolis is the university capital of Southeast Asia. Next to certain cities in India and China we have the most centers for higher learning in the whole of Asia and this is an opportunity to fuel the knowledge and creative industries. More than just fodder for call centers, these resources for educated and trained Filipinos can make Manila the next R&D nexus for cutting-edge technology and anything that needs creativity, innovation and pizzazz.

24. Manila is a colorful city. Manila has color, not just in the signature colors of its 17 mayors, but also in its jeepneys (not that we want to keep them around). We could paint our commuter trains the same way. Manila has color from its flora (if we would keep what we have left and create more parks to be filled with tropical blooms). Sometimes, though, the metropolis has too much color. I wish that all police had one color and style of uniform so that we could identify them easily). Manila has its most variance of color in the millions of people who live here. Our lives are colorful and we strive every day to color our lives with hope to counter all the negative drabness that surrounds us.


Manila used to have many parks and green open spaces but most are lost now or paved over to parking lots and basketball courts.

25. The final truth is that the future is bright for Metro Manilans. They have a thirst for news and a thirst for the truth. With the STAR leading the way, more and more Metro Manilans will be in touch with local events, the best opinions, the best lifestyle, sports and entertainment options, the best connections to the world. Armed with this up-to-date news and knowledge, readers will be ready to face everyday prepared. In the long run, and especially with The Philippine STAR, Manila and Manilans will prevail.


Metro Manila is big, home to 11 million souls —12 million if you count those living under bridges and on esteros.

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25 truths about Metro Manila
« on: April 23, 2012, 05:29:00 PM »

Mountain View

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Re: 25 truths about Metro Manila
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2012, 05:29:30 PM »
Grabe no pag nilindol tayo dito ang daming pamilyang masasaktan... at mamamatay

Ken312

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Re: 25 truths about Metro Manila
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2014, 01:18:20 AM »
Kung papansinin lang natin talagang congested na ang Metro Manila sa totoo lang..

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Re: 25 truths about Metro Manila
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2014, 01:18:20 AM »

 

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