The Truth Is… The Pinoy Masa Loves Ugly Things and Uncivilized Surroundings

From Paolo Alcazaren on Facebook: “The illustration shows a comparison between sidewalks (and the public realm) in a civilized city and the sidewalks as used (actually abused) in Metro Manila. In civilized cities the sidewalks are for people – pedestrians. Name the (ab)uses of sidewalks in mad Metro Manila? (there are more than five abuses)”

Thinking about how Baguio City was originally planned by Daniel Hudson Burnham and then considering how ugly it looks today has convinced me that although most Filipinos look like they no longer live in the jungle, they still pretty much behave as jungle dwellers.

Houses were pine trees used to be.

This is pretty much reflected in the way Baguio City or old Manila looks.

Manila and Baguio were designed and planned out beautifully.  Then, over the decades, it became jungle-fied — Filipino-style.  More recent examples of how beautiful or at least clean and orderly places are jungle-fied are Clark and to a certain extent, Subic after Dick Gordon was booted out by former President Estrada.

More pictures in http://traveleronfoot.wordpress.com/2008/07/10/old-street-names-of-manila/

Here’s what you will see in most Philippine cities that will make you think you are in a jungle:

Instead of jungle vines, we have black spaghetti.  We have all sorts of animals running around everywhere — cats, dogs, rats, drug-addled street children, psychotic vagrants, diseased beggars, and whatever else.

We don’t have proper spaces to walk-on and if there are, they are pretty much like uneven, winding jungle trails.  This is partly so because house and building owners either encroach on sidewalks, or vendors take up space, or private as well as public utility vehicles park on them ,or utilities set up their posts/meters where people ought to be walking.

And, yes, our people behave like jungle dwellers.  You can see them pissing and shitting in the street.  Walking around half-naked in their underwear. Instead of living up in caves or trees, our people live on boxes on stilts over dirty rivers and streams.

Although, you won’t encounter jeeps and buses spewing black smoke in a jungle.  Perhaps that’s the only difference.

Oh yes! The jeep!

Tourism brochures from the Philippines will attempt to portray the jeepney as a cheerful and charmingly kitschy form of transportation.

But when you arrive in the Philippines and get out of NAIA Terminal 1, you will soon find out that most jeeps look like rolling trash-heaps.

In the context of SM Baguio and the rest of session road, I think people who had gotten accustomed to the random jungle-like mash of wires, grimy sooty bill-boards, and beat-up frontages actually got somewhat of a shock when they saw something new and clean looking.

I know, SM architecture still reminds most people of shoe-boxes.  But hey, the fact that a shoe-box looks better than the typical Manila or Baguio frontage says a lot about how ugly these things really look.

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Post Author: Paul Farol

Try not to take me too seriously.

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43 Comments on "The Truth Is… The Pinoy Masa Loves Ugly Things and Uncivilized Surroundings"

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Libertas
Guest
I have a property in baguio and am sad that an architectural jewel has been trashed , partly because of a lack of forward planning, and largely because of corruption. The mayor is a disgrace and typical of self interest in the city fiefdoms which all resemble cesspits. Hustlers, hookers and beggars abound. Maintenance and renovation ignored. It clearly does not help that the vast majority are just trying to survive on a daily basis and are so accepting of their environment and so subservient to the corrupt incompetents who take the decisions. Davao falls into the same category. A… Read more »
alconce
Guest

Sometime ago, that “barbaric moron” disappears every time that warlord from central mindanao comes in a convoy with fully armed bodyguards on board.

Gabby's Dad
Guest

Don’t blame the masa. We just need to pass beautification laws. Sounds like a project for Senator Sotto.

TeabagDeluxe
Guest
Beautification projects and pro-environment laws have already been implemented. However, nothing happened. I remember Baclaran was cleaned out and the vendors driven away by Bayani Fernando and they installed new fences, streetlights, etc. After a few months, it was back to its old, dirty self with plenty of fences sawed off and lamp posts stolen by “entrepreneurial” squatters. So yes, the masa is the problem. Filipinos are disciplined when somebody is watching us. However, once the watchdog turns his back, we go back to our base instincts of screwing up everything everywhere we go. You can observe this while driving… Read more »
brianitus
Guest

“So yes, the masa is the problem. Filipinos are disciplined when somebody is watching us.”

I always thought of us Filipinos as being undisciplined spoiled brats expecting somebody else to follow us to clean up our mess.

joel_delr
Guest

The Baguio City where I grew up and got to know and love are all just memories for me now. Seeing how it transformed from the once dew covered, pine scented city to a now house covered mountainous area always gives me a bad aftertaste. As far as I see it, its the governments failure to prevent or minimize urban migration. The small city can only take so much people.

alconce
Guest
GenSan I think was also designed by Burnham. All one can see are only traces of the original. To top it all, some smooth operators were able to sell that wide track of land right in the middle of the city. That is a government property reserved for parks and playgrounds and is part of the design. Davao City is no exception. Zoning and land use seem to depend entirely on the dictates of the squatter and their political patrons. The streets are not pedestrian friendly because of inadequate sidewalks. The watershed that nurtures the one of the best water… Read more »
Jay
Guest

I think the truth is that this is a consequence of bad gogernance and incompetent leadership. Even the ‘masa’ became unwilling parts of this mess and not the cause of it.

JOn
Guest
I disagree with this artcle. It’s not about that. It’s about the city or government lack of regulationns or unable to impose regulations on what is allowed or not allowed. In the neighboring city in the US where I live, it could have been an ugly site due to the nature of the mix cultures mainly people fom Philippines, Nigeria, Vietnam, Ethiopians etc. living in the area. Because of the city’s strict ordinance like you cannot just build a fence to occupy the sidewalk, hanging outdoor clothes is prohibited, loud music, starter stores etc. they come in with huge penalties… Read more »
Sherlo
Guest

I agree with you. Political will is what the cities in our country needs. Smoking regulation, alcohol ban and traffic management in Davao work well because the local government is really looking into those. The problem also is the personality based in managing the city. City planners should be empowered over the local officials.City planners should be managing the execution of CLUP and not be dictated by the mayors and congress reps.

Trosp
Guest

Apply that logic to population’s overcrowding as a cause of poverty.

Paul Farol (@paulfarol)
Guest

Sure, blame it on the government.

What makes these regulations necessary are the “jungle people” move into the cities and don’t learn how to live in civilized surroundings.

JB
Guest
Other countries managed to civilize their whole population. Its only places like Hitler’s Germany that tried to take the easy way out, and pin it all on some unfortunate portion of society, before even giving them an opportunity. A while ago I saw a well-to-do person collecting his doggie from the dog spa. In the trailer of his gas-guzzling big, black sports utility vehicle, he loaded his little pooch, and his maid (in cheap cotton uniform), like two little piggies off to market. As a foreigner that summed it up for me: The poor in this country have dog-status. To… Read more »
MR.KREIG
Guest

Referring to Jeepney’s as actual ‘rolling trash heaps’,HA!Nice one.
How ’bout ‘shit-box’s on wheels’?

Paul Farol (@paulfarol)
Guest

Good one. I ought to try to trump that but I guess it’ll over-emphasize the obvious.

asylumKID
Guest

di baleh aayusin lahat yan ni tito noy, lalo na pag napatupad na nya ang parliamentary cha cha, tayoy magchacha hihi

LA702
Guest

@ Paul Farol

Ugly is a relative term. Your wife might think you’re not ugly, but your neighbors think you are ugly…and seriously, I think your neighbors are right. Show me pictures where you live and I’ll tell you what you are.

Carles Xabier
Guest

Plant more trees in the urban areas. Make our cities clean and green. Put the industries in the provinces to depopulate Metro Manila.

MidwayHaven
Guest

As what CNN says, going green is more than just planting trees.

What urban areas need in the Philippines is a person-to-person connect that goes beyond conventional (and almost communistic) perceptions of “environmentalism.”

Yes, depopulation of industries is part of that, but what it just translates to is transferring dirt to another place. Industries can stay in Manila, but they need stricter regulation from both within and without.

Aegis-Judex
Guest

But then again, knowing people here, they would like to be as close to their workplace as possible. Industries are population magnets, in this case.

Paul Farol (@paulfarol)
Guest
That’s the typical mindset… Plant more trees and “voila!” we’ve solved Climate Change. It’s pretty much like the thought that seems to pervade the Project 182 movement. Save a bunch of trees and the “evil of corporate greed” will be kept at bay. Or put another way, putting a lot of energy and hysteria to “save what is left of the trees in Baguio City” will help balance out ecology. The second one is even funnier considering all the people whose livelihood depend on unsustainable farming practices that covert hundreds if not thousands of hectares of pine forests into over… Read more »
Suibon
Guest
We have a growing population. We need more space. As we whippersnappers say in the Net: derp. It’s not as if I want to wake up to a day with visual, auditory, and olfactory assaults to my very sense of being; it’s just that we [insert excuse here]. (No, we don’t lust after the sight of wide-open rat-infested manholes, the smell of uncollected garbade, and the din of rusted remnants of Sarao jeepneys: it’s that we don’t have the money to put up with scruping up our spaces, we can’t visualize a better anything that involves actually staying in this… Read more »
kidlat020
Guest

Gusto ko lang sabihin na madaming tao sa Japan.

monk
Guest

Happened in many parts of the world in different periods. See, for example, articles like,

“A nation of outlaws”

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/08/26/a_nation_of_outlaws/

FallenAngel
Member

Paul,

I went up to Baguio recently, after 14 years, and it just feels like Quezon City already. A lot of cars, a lot of houses placed wherever there’s space, a lot of small stalls everywhere other than the market, and the changed climate. The climate’s not as cool anymore.

Oh yeah, SM Baguio is an eyesore. 😛

Resty Refuerzo
Guest

Our local leaders think its cool to make Baguio look like some lowland city forgetting that Baguio in its own way is way much different. The weather, the terrain, the pine trees, etc. The so-called developments are just pang porma, no substance.

Noysucks
Guest

Like I’ve always said, sometimes I think this country is damaged beyond repair considering both government and citizens are all fucked up like crazy, with both sides blaming each other and refusing to change for the better, thinking that they are perfect people………

Noysucks
Guest

I also think sometimes that if ever the apocalypse comes, Flips will be one of those to be wiped out from the face of the earth ‘cuz you know the Flip attitude: they only prepare at the last minute. But oh well, I think it’s alright for them por gad is wid dem.

Okay, butthurt Flips gonna hate……

Noysucks
Guest

Ok fine, include me in there ‘cuz I’m guilty of this as well…

david
Guest

..at least you admit it…that puts you way in front of most flips..good luck

Tara
Guest

You got it right on the kisser. These are the very things I’ve observed and fumed over countless of times about the Philippines! It’s so sad how we’ve managed to fudge up our nation soooo bad and how unruly everyone’s become. Biggest pet peeve of all time – PUBLIC URINATION and spitting on the streets. Like where the hell did we pick that up!? Nakakahiya ang Pilipinas.

ChinoF
Member

Most of Filipino behavior has remained at the level of the caveman and forest savage. Education on truly civilized and ethical behavior has not reached most of the masses in the rural areas. Then they get to the urban areas and makes them dirty with their habits. That’s why education is very important. Problem though is kung matigas ang ulo ng mga tuturuan mo.

Anita Schon
Guest
This is a ridiculous assumption of how the”MASA” loves ugly things and uncivilized surroundings. What happened in the country is everybodys fault. When I was growing up I would walk from Bambang to go to FEU, and back from school at night, walking on the clean sidewalks. Whose fault is it that sidewalks are so congested and dirty now? Wasn’t there a law that prohibited people to sell on the sidewalk? Wasn’t there a law not to squat on any land owned by absentee owners? The MASA would like to live in civilized environment, but there is no progress for… Read more »
david
Guest

my observations as an outsider is that filipino are clean in their person and small personal space….the rest of the country though can go f*ck itself is the attitude

Jose Caedo
Guest

In the squatter relocation areas where we do our work, the shanties have all the new gadgets you mentioned. Our info is distributed on DVDs now because of that.

With OFW remittances, people just think money grows in trees, and don’t save.

Such is life.

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