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.