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

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.


Post Author: Paul Farol

Try not to take me too seriously.

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

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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 »
Gabby's Dad

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


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.

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 »

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.

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 »

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


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


@ 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

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

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 »

Gusto ko lang sabihin na madaming tao sa Japan.


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

“A nation of outlaws”



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. 😛


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………


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……


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.


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
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 »
Jose Caedo

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.