Detroit bankruptcy under the weight of urban sprawl and poor transport: Metro Manila has a bit to learn

Sad milestone for a once glorious city and a former citadel of American industrial power. Detroit, Michigan — the city itself and its surrounding metropolitan area home to the United States’ “Big Three” car manufacturers, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler — yesterday filed for bankruptcy following a decades-long decline the sharpest of which was felt over the last year and a half.

detroit_suburbia
[Photo courtesy Mashable.]

Between 2000 and 2010, the city’s population fell by 25%, from the nation’s 10th largest city to 18th. In 2010, the city had a population of 713,777, more than a 60% drop down from a peak population of over 1.8 million at the 1950 census, indicating a serious and long-running decline of Detroit’s economic strength. Commensurate with the shift of population and jobs to its suburbs or other states, the city has had to adjust its role within the larger metropolitan area. Downtown Detroit has seen an increased role as an entertainment hub in the 21st century, with the opening of three casinos, new stadiums, and a riverfront revitalization project. However, many neighborhoods remain distressed. The state governor declared a financial emergency in March 2013, appointing an emergency manager. On July 18, 2013, Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history.

The initial documents indicate only that the city’s assets as well as its liabilities each exceed $1 billion. But in his letter, Mr. Snyder said the liabilities were $18 billion.

Saddled by junk status from credit-rating firms, Detroit has had its ability to borrow almost completely shut off and reached its statutory limit to tax its residents to raise new revenue, state officials said. Mr. Orr had called the city functionally insolvent, and it recently missed a payment to the city’s pension system of nearly $40 million.

So far, the city has an agreement to pay some secured creditors 75 cents on the dollar on nearly $340 million in debt. In exchange, the city would get back $11 million a month in tax revenue from the city’s three casinos originally used as collateral to back the debt.

But negotiations with unsecured creditors, who were offered about $2 billion to cover $11 billion in debt, remain stalled.

Automobiles being transported by rail from Detroit c.1973 (Source: Wikipedia)
Automobiles being transported by rail from Detroit c.1973 (Source: Wikipedia)
The gradual erosion of the city’s tax base can be traced to its long succumbing to urban sprawl following a misguided development focus on automobile use for its workforce to the detriment of high-density mass public transportation. In 1950, the city held about one-third of the state’s population. Over the last sixty years, the city’s density has gradually decreased and now has less than 10% of the state’s population, and the sprawling metropolitan area which surrounds and includes the city has more than half of Michigan’s population. An extensive freeway system constructed in the 1950s, 60s, 70’s, & 80’s encouraged auto commuting. In 1956, Detroit’s last heavily used electric streetcar line along the length of Woodward Avenue was ripped out and replaced with gas powered buses. It was the last line of what had once been a 534 miles network of electric streetcars. In 1941, a streetcar had once ran on Woodward Avenue every 60 seconds at peak times.

Because of the resulting sprawl, reportedly the worst among America’s major metropolitan areas, many jobs in and around Detroit had progressively become “beyond reach of the poor”.

Combined with an earlier Brookings Institution study on access to public transit, a portrait emerges of a metro area where many jobs are beyond the reach of low-income residents who lack transportation options and often live inside the city.

Besides potentially adding to commute times, a decentralized job market adds to pollution levels.

The Brookings Institution released its new report today showing that only 7.3% of metro Detroit’s roughly 1.4 million jobs lie within three miles of the city’s central business district. Another 15% lie within a 3-to-10-mile band from the downtown core.

The 77% of jobs that are found from 10 miles to 35 miles out are the highest percentage of decentralized jobs in any of the nation’s top 100 metro areas.

Unlike Detroit’s underpopulation problems, the Philippine capital and its vast suburbia collectively known as “Metro Manila” is, of course, suffering from a fundamentally different terminal disease — an explosion in population within a burdensome underclass of illegal settlers (more aptly known as “squatters”) that engulf the city in squalor, dump refuse that clogs waterways and traps flood waters, and complicate much-needed city planning and development further hobbling implementation of systemic solutions to the megalopolis’s horrendous and infuriating traffic mess. To Detroit’s degeneration into a barren wasteland, Manila had become a fetid shithole. And much of the shared causes of both cities’ decline can be traced to misguided approaches to mass transit development. Indeed, my colleague Paul Farol highlighted this in a recent article

Right now, one of the key pressures driving people with low-incomes or informal sources of income to live in slum areas is poor public transportation.

Just assume that the average cost of a two way trip with a total length of 16 kilometers (8 kilometers one way) is anything from 50 to 100 pesos and at its worst, it takes two hours to complete one trip (including waiting time at boarding stations). This means that the average Pinoy has to shell out as much as 1/3 of his daily minimum wage and lose 4 hours of his time in traffic — often arriving at his place of work too frazzled to be effective or arriving home too tired to have any meaningful interaction with their family.

In a way, perhaps, the lousy public transportation we have could be the very reason why Juan is tamad (lazy), cannot attend to his duties as a father, and takes home such a small amount of money (around 250 pesos, assuming he is getting the full minimum wage).

manila_trafficThe key lies in political will — specifically a willingness to consider the obvious solutions. A now-famous photo of buses deliberately clogging a major Manila highway that has for so long been making the rounds across social media resonates strongly in the way it illustrates just how obvious these solutions are. Indeed, it even introduces doubt as to whether congestion really is the fundamental problem that needs to be solved to fix Manila traffic as it points more to opportunities to address design issues around the way roads are laid out, the way public utility vehicles are deployed, and the way traffic rules are enforced across Metro Manila.

Then there is the obvious problem of how squatters are tolerated by the country’s politicians. No rocket science is needed to understand the concepts surrounding this simple issue. From the perspective of vote-salivating politicians, squatter colonies are easy pickin’ sources of winning ballots and bleeding heart rhetoric. One only needs to see this and the problem of Manila traffic from a realiist’s perspective to identify what the real next steps should be.

[NB: Parts of this article and photos used in it were lifted from the Wikipedia.org article “Detroit” in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site. Photo of buses clogging EDSA courtesy Boylit De Guzman.]

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54 Comments on “Detroit bankruptcy under the weight of urban sprawl and poor transport: Metro Manila has a bit to learn”

  1. Pleasure to read as always, Benigs!

    In connection with this, I think it would be a good time to review the need to put EDSA and other routes under the service of just one or two bus companies.

    Such an arrangement would:

    1. Cut down the need for regulation and its attendant problems like corruption. Moreover, since government has to deal with a couple hundred and not thousands of bus operators, you can probably consider paring down the LTFRB — if at all you applied the same scheme to jeeps, auvs, trikes, taxies.

    2. Make it feasible for bus companies to pay their drivers a wage rather than a boundary.

    1. Thanks! In short, implement a proper systematised properly-managed system rather than a free-for-all pwede na yan system based on a kanya-kanya and ako-muna mentality.

  2. Interesting points. However, may I just toss a few of my cents into the hat:

    1. Detroit is valid as an extreme example of what happens when there is a lack public transport systems in place. I say extreme because we should keep in mind that this is the car manufacturing hub of America. Because of this, it was not politically kosher for them to rely on public transport. Their idealistic notion was that Detroit shouldn’t even be seen with mass transport because mass transport is the enemy of the automobile. By contrast, Metro Manila is willing to improve its mass transport infra, except that it is perhaps crippled by a lack of visionary planning.

    2. More important, it may be erroneous to compare Detroit with Metro Manila because while Detroit is suffering from economic collapse, Metro Manila is actually suffering from way too much commerce in so concentrated a space. Detroit’s wasteland is due to the movement of manufacturing to China, and it was only then that the lack of mass transport became a critical problem. Metro Manila? We have mass transport that’s busting at the seams because all the economic activity is here.

    3. Lastly, please don’t call Metro Manila a “fetid shithole” ever again. It’s my city and, for all its problems, it is far from the worst place to live in in the world. And I’m actually quite proud of it. We need more people who feel proud about their city. Pride will lead to action for innovative solutions over the long term.

      1. Oh dear, I was hoping to avoid pinning myself into this corner. So I’ll reply with a safe analogy.

        You see a mother with the ugliest baby in the whole world. And yet she happily says that she’s proud of her baby. Why “proud?” She thinks for a while and then says, “I’m proud because it’s a survivor.” And she’ll be willing to fight for it even.

        Perhaps pride is too personal an emotion to be fairly and properly explained. I just know that it’s there.

        1. This is a common false analogy — likening love between human beings to love between a human being and a non-living thing (such as a country or a city). False analogy. Apples to oranges. Bayabas to kamatis.

        2. What makes you say it’s a “common false analogy”? What about sentimental value? What about irrational love for objects which you have grown fond of despite their being decrepit or broken down, and you refuse to let go of it?

          I’ll take your “bayabas to kamatis” and tell you frankly that you’re too cynical. Maybe because you think it’s fashionable to be cynical and call everything a turd fest. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you’re just the logical one and I’m the emotional one. Kirk and Spock. Except when you call an entire city a shit hole, that’s being way more emotional than logical.

        3. Pride in Manila simply because you’re born in Manila?

          If you’re born in a squatter area, let’s say an area known to be a crime center and is literally dirty and stinky to the core, you’re obliged to be proud of it?

          That’s false pride.

        4. ChinoF,

          Have you even BEEN to a squatters’ area? I don’t think so. You’re basing your distaste on what you see in the news and what you paint as a stereotype of the slums.

          I’ve been there. I’ve lived there. Right in the middle. It was a required immersion for us in our trade. And you know what? Believe it or not, it wasn’t stinky. It wasn’t dirty. Yes the peripheries of the slum areas will be stinky and dirty, but that’s because these are the areas that the squatters themselves refuse to “own,” and there is a lack of sanitation capacity for these highly concentrated areas. But the fact is, when you live deep inside the crowded areas, they are fastidious cleaners and do what they can to clean house. You realize that they’re people too and they do what they can to make their circumstances liveable.

          You wonder why people born in Tondo, the slum of slums, are proud of their birthplace? It’s because believe it or not, within their socio-cultural norms, it actually was a nice place to grow up in.

        5. Yes, I’ve been to a squatter area, been there several times. No need to look for one, there are many near my house. In fact, there are so many, it’s like the whole city has them in every corner. With that description, you can say squatter areas are shitholes. If there are that many, along with the other problems of the city, then wouldn’t the sum effect be, the city has become quite like a shithole?

        6. I think most people have the wrong concept about pride.

          One thing I learned is that if you are proud of something, you won’t allow it to be dirtied up and treated like crap.

          Sometimes, when some people say they’re proud of something, they’re really just showing outrage over butthurt.

    1. If what you see in a hole looks like shit and smells like shit then guess what: What you are looking into must be a shithole. 😀

      By your logic in Item (1), we can also make the same excuse about the Philippines being stuck with all these surplus GI jeeps in 1946 (after liberation and Independence) and therefore it wouldn’t have been “kosher” to pass off the opportunity to put them to good use. And it is ironic that you’d cite Manila’s lack of “visionary planning” considering what you described as Detroit’s politically-motivated focus on motoring to the detriment of public transport could also be considered to be a monumental lack of “visionary planning”.

      As to your Point (2), you should read my article again, specifically this part:

      Unlike Detroit’s underpopulation problems, the Philippine capital and its vast suburbia collectively known as “Metro Manila” is, of course, suffering from a fundamentally different terminal disease — an explosion in population within a burdensome underclass of illegal settlers (more aptly known as “squatters”) that engulf the city in squalor, dump refuse that clogs waterways and traps flood waters, and complicate much-needed city planning and development further hobbling implementation of systemic solutions to the megalopolis’s horrendous and infuriating traffic mess.

      So I did acknowledge that fundamental difference: lack of commerce in Detroit drove away people, whereas population is exploding in Manila because it is the only turd in a barren wasteland where flies starved for a place to lay their eggs can swarm around. But like pond scum, which for a short productive period of time can enjoy being the dominant form of life in a small body of water, the runaway population growth in Manila is already starting to clog its arteries. And you know what clog arteries can do to what looks to be a plump and healthy organism.

      1. Ooh. Except that you yourself generalized and called the whole of Metro Manila a “fetid shithole.” 🙂 That’s a hasty generalization because you are blinded by the slums and the traffic. Granted, some 30 percent of the residents live in slum areas, but the slums themselves constitute a small fraction of the land area (http://liu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:22252/FULLTEXT01.pdf). You wouldn’t want to call Intramuros or much of Makati or Marikina a shit hole, for instance. Definitely not Marikina.

        As for point (1), I think you just helped to further my point. 🙂 The jeepney did become useful. We cannot dismiss it completely as for several decades it did do enormous service as mass transport. Today’s jeepneys aren’t army surplus and today’s jeepney scourge isn’t due to World War 2. It’s because of severe lack of regulatory willpower.

        Finally, as for point 2. Granted, I missed out on that, mea culpa. I was too blinded by the turd talk. 🙂

        1. I beg your pardon, but if you will allow me, it seems you are the one missing the point. And it appears to originate from a misapprehension of the conditions in Metro Manila that are a result of the squatter problem.

          You pointed out that squatters occupy about 30 percent of the NCR’s land area. Assuming that is true, it still means a significant portion of the population — nearly 3 million residents are crammed into a very small area. That does not even begin to account for the rest of the impoverished who, while they may not occupy property illegally, likewise contribute to the deterioration of Metro Manila. The concentration of such dense population clusters is not only dangerous physically, it also becomes the center of numerous social ills.

          With regards to the effects of squatter colonies and/or impoverished areas of NCR — this 30 percent contributes a significant portion to Metro Manila’s environmental problems. Indiscriminate dumping as evidenced by the photo above result in flooding and the propagation of disease. The traffic congestion that accompanies high population densities is also a contributor to environmental degradation. And then there the attendant economic losses as a result of traffic due to congestion. PhP1.513 trillion in lost productivity and added fuel costs for 2012.

          We could go on and on. The point I’m trying to drive at is that the quality of life in Metro Manila is one of the lowest in the world. Congestion, and its attendant issues, in the NCR — from squatters and other impoverished — is one of its leading causes. It isn’t simply because too many people are squeezed into 30 percent of the land area; the social, economic and environmental problems caused by the high squatter/impoverished population are WHY Dan Brown calls Manila the “gates of Hell.”

          Jeepneys were a makeshift mass transit solution. They should never have been allowed to remain in use past the 1950s. They are under-powered, slow and belch noxious fumes. They can’t safely transport more than 15 persons at a time. Aside from the poor performance, they have a blind side that wouldn’t pass any other country’s transport regulations. There really is no compelling reason to let them remain.

        2. Sorry Johnny Saint, but it’s your turn to miss the point. I didn’t say that 30 percent of NCR was squatters. I said 30 percent of Metro Manila’s population was. But that in terms of land area, it’s a much, much smaller percentage. That’s because squatters tend to dwell in hypersaturated areas of extremely high density.

          Conditions are horrible for these people who decided to live this way. But that’s not true for the entire Metro. Much of Metro Manila is very liveable. And perhaps you simply need to move house if you don’t feel that way.

          As for jeepneys, that was also my point precisely. They did serve a very important purpose up to the 50s. But at some point they did need to be phased out, except there was no clear political will to do so.

      2. I’m quite aware of what you wrote. I used Metro Manila and NCR interchangeably.

        Move away? What will that solve? All you accomplish is to delay the inevitable. Eventually squatters and other impoverished will congregate where new opportunities arise as urban areas evolve. Meanwhile those who move to a different locale will simply extend their commute. Again extending the time on the road and further worsening traffic congestion due to volume. What you are saying in effect is to bow to the eventual takeover of Metro Manila by squatters. And you still did not confront what I posed to you as the problem — it isn’t just that there ARE squatters/impoverished people; the problems that arise from these hyper-saturated communities (environmental, social, economic, etc.) and our failure to deal with them are causing Metro Manila/NCR to deteriorate. They may not inhabit ALL of Metro Manila but their effects are felt throughout and turning it into a “shithole.” It seems THAT is the simple point you cannot wrap your head around.

        Your nostalgia for the jeepney is pointless. The fact is jeepneys are an outmoded form of transport that need to be replaced if we are ever going to modernize.

        And for the record, I was working with squatter communities long before it became fashionable at uni to have “immersions.” The fact that the periphery of the community was dirty and fetid was because they disposed of their waste there for the rest of the world to deal with. Because of course they can be very fastidious.

        1. The fallacy in your argument (and where perhaps there is a frustrating disjoint in our communication) is that you are assuming that the land area that is being occupied by squatters in the Metro Manila area is increasing. It isn’t. In fact, there has been a reduction in the area coverage of squatters.

          Are the numbers of people living in slums increasing? Yes. But not in the way that you think. The latest studies show that only a third of slum dwellers are actually poor. Slum areas are now being occupied by middle class tenants with disposable income. And the reason they do so is because of the lack of low cost housing options in the city.

          What we agree on is the point that there is a need for serious planning and intervention from the administration in order to resolve problems driven by population concentrations.

          What we don’t agree on (and what I will fight tooth and nail) is the inglorious generalization that all of Metro Manila is a hell hole. It’s not the most convenient place in the world. But it’s liveable. And the squatters that you fear are not encroaching into new lands like some plague. Try wrapping your head around that.

          My reference to the jeepney is not nostalgia. It is a matter of practicality. It had its time. The jeepney became a viable transport option in the 1950s, and nobody complained back then. Everybody loved it. Things are different today. I never said I wanted them to stay. I’m looking forward to clean transport.

          For someone who claims to have worked in squatter communities, you sure do not sound like it. I don’t believe you. I’ve worked with community service personnel most of my life and I can smell an imposter from afar.

        2. A “plague?” Now you’re just being overly dramatic.

          Your argument amounts to “Metro Manila IS BAD; but it’s not THAT bad.”

          Let me state it again. I am not overly focused on the private property and government/public land being occupied by squatter colonies. Nor am I fixated by the fact that the squatter population is increasing. My concern is that the environmental, economic, and social problems arising as a result of these communities and our failure as a society to address them has put Metro Manila into a wretched state. And the alarming fact that the availability of resources to deal with the situation continues to diminish.

          It is an accepted fact that population densities in cities will continue to increase in the 21st century as more people move from rural to urban areas. That means all the services necessary to maintain our cities, and keep them running, need to evolve as well. Pretending that the situation is not as bad as it sounds is what got us into this mess in the first place. Previous generations looked at what was happening and decided that there wasn’t enough of a concern to warrant intervention or that things could be left off for the next generation. That kind of procrastination leaves the current generation to inherit esteros clogged with garbage, stolen electricity, stolen water, a high crime rate and EDSA’s ever present traffic jams. The result of a minority that continuously taxes Metro Manila’s resources. It’s the same kind of procrastination that comes from thinking “Metro Manila IS BAD; but it’s not THAT bad.”

          No low-cost housing? I thought your answer was to move out if conditions in the area become untenable. Which again brings us back to the post you did not answer. Move them to a different locale and you extend their commute. That extends their time on the road. More vehicles/travelers on the road, the worse traffic congestion becomes due to greater volume. And that makes life in the metropolis less bearable.

      3. What you are doing in effect is PRAISING the fact that the squatter community you “immersed” yourself in DISPOSED of their garbage into SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY and on public streets FOR THE REST OF THE METROPOLIS to immerse itself in.

        1. See Johnny, this is why I’m calling you out as a liar. You’ve never “worked with squatter communities long before it became fashionable.” It’s just your sorry attempt at gaining some semblance of credibility and respectability.

          Between the lines of your comment is a lot of antipathy towards the slum community. With this kind of attitude, you would have been tarred and feathered from the get go had you stepped into the slums.

          Then again, maybe that’s why you have so much hatred for them. Maybe they saw through you and ganged up on you in there. Must have been a traumatic experience for you. I hope you can still walk straight.

        2. Reading between the lines?

          I am a liar because I have an opinion you do not share? I must have had a traumatic experience interacting with a squatter community? Why do you need to fabricate these ludicrous tales? Because you require other people to provide you with their bona fides? What are you looking for? Photos showing us drinking gin and singing karaoke? Because you expect your so-called “immersion” to be the same profound experience for everyone else? Or because you refuse to admit that what I said was exactly what it was — you praised the squatter community you visited for being “fastidious” while they disposed of their trash on public streets and other properties on the periphery of their community. Trash that ends up being the cause of flooding in the metropolis and other environmental and health problems for the rest of the population. A reality which you again continue to ignore in favor of personal attacks.

          Your intransigence doesn’t make you correct. It only means you are a conceited, self-absorbed, egotistical prick.

          The one thing working with impoverished communities has taught me is that the best people there are those who couldn’t wait to leave their wretchedness behind and transform their surroundings. People with practical ideas and who have no use for romantic notions that cover up how ugly life can be in those communities.

      4. @Anthony Ilano, Well of course it’s easy to cite exceptions to the rule. But what we are talking about here (an approach you will see across most of the content here in GRP) is the collective properties of Metro Manila. The unfortunate reality is that it is the achievements of the exceptional that is propping up the failures of the majority. Indeed, that is what you yourself are doing here; citing the exceptional cases as examples to disprove our observations and the generalisations we come up with out of those observations.

        And, of course, jeepneys “did do enormous service as mass transport” as you said — in the early days. Trouble is, those band-aid pwede-na-yan solutions then became the permanent solutions that they were not meant to be. That’s typical Pinoy-style pwede-na-yan mentality. Squatters are sort of the same. Some start out as squatters thinking it will be a temporary solution to their lack of decent housing. Then they turn professional and institutionalise in their minds the whole lifestyle and the squatter mentality that sustains that lifestyle.

        Sometimes it takes only a small underclass that is big enough to turn an entire system into a festering morass. Many squatter infestations in Manila may be hidden (although that is certainly debatable today). But they cause enormous problems just the same, kind of like a small aneurism in a key artery can kill an entire organism instantly. We see that today. Idiotic bus drivers who disgorge their passengers in the middle of major highways and entire communities of illegal settlers who shit on Manila’s major waterways turn the ENTIRE metropolis into a shithole. That’s what your “30 percent” does. The 70% have to suffer for the anti-social behaviour of a 30% parasitical class. The solution is therefore glaringly obvious.

    2. Dude, you can sugar-coat a freshly crapped out turd and call it a donut, if you like. BUT the author of the essay is correct, and you can ask any 1st time visitor to the city…and they will tell you:
      Metro-Manure is a shit-hole mess. a fuckin Hell-Hole on rambling wreck jeepney wheels.
      The time for a solution was 20 years ago, now it is more like what is needed is damage control. or a tactical nuclear strike. I wish there was an easy answer, but NO. The corrupt politicians who turn/turned a blind eye to the problems of the ‘Pearl-of-the-Orient’ obviously thought more about themselves than they do/did about their fellow countrymen. as TYPICAL as it is DESPICABLE.

      1. Then you need a better travel agent LOL!

        Because from where I stand, people who come over to Metro Manila are loving it. Sure there’s traffic. Sure there are stink holes here and there. But perhaps you need to travel more. Because if you compare Metro Manila to the usual tourist haunts like Hong Kong or Bangkok or New Zealand, then yes we have a long way to go. But if you’ve been to Los Angeles, to Jakarta, to (horrors) Mumbai, Sao Paolo, and so much more, you will realize that wow, Metro Manila is in pretty good shape.

        My work takes me places. I was in Jamaica late last year and I must say (politely) that I really don’t want to go back there. Give me Metro Manila anytime.

        By and large, the people in our org who come over (from the UK, Japan, Germany, Norway, etc.) enjoy their experience and they can’t wait to come back here.

        So. Stink hole much? Or maybe you just need to get out more. 😉

        1. I would agree with the author that Manila smells like a shithole because everywhere you go, it stinks. I would’nt be surprised if your sense of smell after a lifetime of smelly environment would rank the smell of shit as your preferred scent.

        2. Sancho, I would suggest you change your haunts then. You’re probably living in the hell holes. Every city has them. Granted Manila has more than many, but you can’t say it’s true everywhere you go in the Metro.

        3. I am glad to tell you Mr. Ilano that I am very lucky to live a few hours away from Manila where as Tony Orlando sang in one of his hit songs – “the air is fresh and clean”.

        4. I have travelled the World Sonny. and Metro-Manure is one place I try to avoid.
          I’ve been to Kingston as well, and it every bit the shit-hole that Metro-Manure is.You , as you know, can have ’em both for all I care.
          I won’t be going back to either. That is not to say I won’t enjoy living in Romblon/Camiguin/Puerto Pricessa because I will gladly go back to those places when ever it is I feel like it. and BTW, I have been told to go back to where I come from when I have been minding my own business in the Philippines. and yet I have NEVER told any Filipino I hear speaking tagalog/Cebuano in the Europe or the USA to go back to where they come from. NEVER.
          SO, DEFINITELY NOT!

    3. It’s the author’s right to call Metro Manila a “fetid shithole” under the provisions for freedom of speech, since that is his way of highlighting the problems of our capital city.

      1. And it is my right to express my offense at the term. And to point out that it is a hasty generalization.

        I live in Marikina City. It is considered one of the best places to live in *in Asia*. It has won international Healthiest City awards. And yet, last I checked, Marikina is part of Metro Manila.

        So let me put this in terms that freedom of speech advocates would undestand:

        Stop calling my beautiful city a shit hole, you annoying muthafuckas.

        1. Marikina. Whose former mayor is famous for creating the U-turns that have slowed traffic to a crawl on Metro Manila thoroughfares because he was trying an “experiment” in traffic management without any real planning and subjecting commuters to hideous pink fences. A dancing fool who made the flood waters in the metropolis rise faster and run deeper after implementing dubious public works projects. I can see where the delusion comes from. It must be okay to EXPORT problems to other communities as long as Marikina is trouble free.

        2. By the way, with Marikina being so beautiful, it seems everyone should be moving there to live and work. And yet thousands commute daily AWAY FROM Marikina to other parts of Metro Manila for employment. That commuter population is a major source of the traffic congestion on Aurora Boulevard, Marcos Highway and C5. Compounded by your former mayor’s U-turns.

  3. The only thing that Detroit and Manila have in common are poor planning.The bancruptcy of Detroit is due to many problems, sprawl probably being the least of them. Detroit had all of their eggs in one basket, the auto industry. The failure of the auto industry and related industries, plus “white flight” is what brought detroit down. It is practically abandoned at this point. Detroit is an erie sight to behold. So erie that a company proposed to take a section of the city AS-IS and create a zombie theme park.

    To replicate the problem, every building in the NCR over three stories high would need to be abandoned, leaving only sparse residences and squatters.

    Maybe New Orleans is a better comparison.

  4. Detroit’s problems are severely complicated bt different. the ‘out-sourcing’ of jobs. the raping of the pension fund by Wall Street bankers selling ‘Mortgage backed securities’ that were designed to fail is MAYBE the most hideous act of criminality. Men/Women who worked and gave their lives to the city and won hard fought for labor contracts have been fucked out of their right to not spend their old=age in poverty.
    the complete lack of forward thinking/vision in both cities is but one reason they are fucked beyond repair. Corruption is another. ‘outsourcing’ another one. The list goes on and whatta fuckin mess.
    Best of luck finding a solution. I really mean that too. Sadly, I hear a fat lady singing.

  5. If you want to some it up the entire country of the Philippines is a tepid shithole sorry to say. I have never met so many selfish, complacent, do nothing, give me a free handout, no love of country people than the common filipino. This could have been a great nation and had macoi stayed in power even as corrupt as he was it might be that today. At least he knew the importance of infastructure But you have a free for all mentality in politics and no one gives a shit its all about how much can I steal. The they keep reelecting the scum of the earth. It will never end. This Country is an embarrassment to itself and the world. Take away OFW income and this place is literally a huge TOILET. I stay here because its cheap and I can drive like an f’ing maniac. You can obviously see that women are an attraction for Expats and there are other things I like but everyday is constant frustration dealing with stupidity on an unheard of level. Control the number of jeepneys, have defined bus and jeepney stops and that will solve most of the traffic issues. put in legitimate and strict emission testing and that will stop lots of pollution. Let foreigners own land without restrictions and that will encourage investment and put millions to work. Stupid is as Stupid does and this Country is about as stupid as it gets

    1. Corey, I’m sorry to say this but with all due respect, you’re a douchebag. You run a website that tries to pretend that the country is a livable place and then you badmouth the people and call it a toilet. Well excuse me but I will now make it my cause to make your professional life a living hell from here on.

      1. Oh that is very nice of you. Anthony I am passionate about this Country and what is happening here drives me crazy and I tend to get emotional. After eight years this is my home. But don’t threaten me as that would be gross negligence especially for a site that encourages free speech. My site is not Pollyanna and I am very clear about that in any of the articles I write. I try and be fair about life in this Country.

      2. Anthony I am doing a short study on use of the word Stupidity and Filipino in the same sentence to see reaction and you reacted as so many do. Maybe look in the mirror and try and understand why you and your country is the way it is. 300 years of the Church and Spanish rule, then America. Again don’t you threaten me as I will be happy to meet you anytime anyplace for a coffee to work this out LOL

      3. @Anthony Ilano I hope that is not a physical threat you are making there as I will not hesitate to ban you from this forum if you making even the smallest hint that you are doing so to any of the commenters here and specially any of the writers.

        Rather than going around like a little boy stomping your little feet about how everyone is “bad mouthing” Filipinos, come up with convincing arguments to disprove the bad rep Filipinos are renowned for worldwide. I’m sure a guy like you who is convinced of the greatness of Da Pinoy will not find stepping up to that challenge, difficult.

    2. You know that you are right, and I do too. I try not to be as harsh as you just were because the Filipino is as sensitive a human being as has ever existed. I have lived in the country for over five years and ,just like you said, EVERY FUCKIN time I tried to get the simplest of things done? it took weeks and was always a nightmare.charged double licensing fees, registration fees. Immigration has robbed me as well.
      That said, there are places that are even dumber, more irritating. Try living in Belize/Jamaica.it is actually worse, hard to believe but it is…A LOT WORSE.

    1. Maybe fetid shithole isn’t the right term after all. How about cesspool of dysfunction, or tralaland of trash? Of course, that doesn’t mean only this city deserves such terms. Any place where the people as a whole allow the dysfunctions to fester deserves them. If you accept the dirty, diseased parts and still remain proud of the city, best accept the negative appellations as well.

      1. I don’t think identifying the problems were ever an issue. You can tune in to an AM station and the talking heads will be chattering on and on about what is wrong with Philippine society today. Same goes for news on television and on the Web. Where we often falter is in first acknowledging there are problems that need to be addressed and in overcoming the institutional inertia that prevents us from solving an endemic, system-wide malaise.

        1. That’s one of the problems with pride, or the wrong kind of it – it breeds unwillingness to accept things that should be accepted.

        2. Precisely.

          That’s why I can’t bring myself to agree with Mr Anthony Ilano’s position. His premise is that places like Jamaica and Sao Paolo are worse than Metro Manila. Therefore life here in the NCR isn’t so bad after all. Marikina is a healthy place to live; therefore Metro Manila isn’t a “shithole.” That just doesn’t make any sense to me. Does that mean we have to wait until conditions are as deteriorated as Haiti or Zimbabwe before a sense of urgency kicks in? Or perhaps we’ll just set the bar another notch lower and sit back to wait until the situation deteriorates further, becoming WORSE than Nigeria and Brazil, before we decide to do something.

  6. Businesses fled, because of urban decay and crime. These are the reason, Detroit has no enough income. Plus, corruption also. Manila can become bankrupt, also. With the Jueteng Lord as the Mayor.

  7. I would go for a mass transit system (like trains and organized and controlled bus system) and lesser private cars. Mas marami pa rin ang private cars kaysa sa PUVs. Although I agree that PUVs are one to blame and we need to cut down their numbers on the street (because the government simply issues franchises to anyone which should not be the case), too much private cars can also clog major roads like what we are seeing now in Beijing. What we need is to fully develop our public mass transport system instead of building new roads and encouraging people to buy more cars.

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