Modern trendy Manila’s primitive underbelly

manila_philippinesNow that paralyzing floods are an almost weekly occurrence in Metro Manila, I now view what were once considered “improvements” on the city differently. Often, some balikbayan friends visiting Manila would gaze in wonder at the gleaming highrises that tower above the city skyline and gush about how modern it all looks now. The presence of trendy cafes, restaurants, and night spots populated by young urbane cityslickers makes us feel like Manila has “arrived” and joined the ranks of its cosmpolitan counterparts in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Hong Kong.


After having, yet again, spent irreplaceable hours of my life stuck in another flood, all those new features of Manila that supposedly make it look modern have become objects of loathing. Just like everything else to do with the illusion of “development” in the Philippines, Manila’s towering highrises to me now represent the same old shortsighted excess that has underwritten Pinoy-style “progress”.

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In hindsight, it seems that while we were all busy celebrating the virtual “overnight” tranformation of Manila into a modern Hong Kong-style metropolis, we missed the inconvenient fact that building up of important infrastructure to support all these “transformations” crawled along at a snail’s pace and failed to keep up.

For example, for every additional liter of water that could be flushed down each of the new kubetas installed in one of those millions of cramped apartments in these hastily-built high rises, I wonder how many additional liters of drainage capacity in our city’s sewerage system had been added over the same period?

As a kid in school, we used to be told the old parable of the house built on sand…

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. (Matthew 7:24-27)

What sort of foundation does Metro Manila have? From what I am seeing today, it seems that it is a disaster slowly unfolding before our very eyes.

20 Replies to “Modern trendy Manila’s primitive underbelly”

  1. How could MM be modern? With consumer internet services being worse and yet very expensive in Asia? And pair that with dumber than a bag of rocks customer service agents. What we get is primitive lifestyle.

  2. As with a lot of other things in the Philippines, Kate, the “modernness” simply a facade that covers up the lack of substance.

    I remember hearing a tv personality say something like this before:

    “Di bale na magdildil ng asin, basta I look expensive!”

  3. Aquino -Erap Estrada’s accomplishments…so far
    not far from San Juan…By the way: I’m back, I just took a long vacation…

    1. GREAT POINT, MARK!!! Complaining about the Government is useless.
      ” We can never change anything by fighting the existing reality. We first must build a new model that makes the existing reality obsolete”. (Buckminster Fuller)
      FYI, we are working on a new model city (no Government involved) will be announced in 2 months.

    2. Haha well it’s actually not possible to pose a solution without complaining or criticizing the government.

      The problem: Any competent government body is responsible for adhering to the standards and practices of proper city planning protocols. Since it’s the Philippines, however, the government is filled with incompetent and greedy thieves… don’t worry there’s a point to me saying that.

      The government should actually audit all proposals for serious infrastructure changes to ensure that the company is legit, the plans are up to par and that the construction will BENEFIT the surrounding area with little to NO drawback whatsoever (if there is a substantial drawback, then the proposal is ofcourse denied).

      Buuuuut… this is the Philippines. The developers are only interested in putting together the building (as cheaply and as environmentally unfriendly as possible) so that the citizens (who the higher ups pretty much consider as animals— i mean, who wouldn’t right? It’s MM afterall) can start BUYING/LEASING the units as quickly as possible.

      Now… what does any self respecting company in the Philippines do when they have money, but are facing an obstacle? They go back to the drawing board and make sure that they meet protocol and strengthen the project even more…. Right? hhahahahahhahaha no no no, this is the Philippines…. They PAY the people in charge to look the other way (told you I was going somewhere with that comment above).

      Hence, MM is indeed a place filled with modern luxuries and skyscrapers— up until a flood comes… just like any cheaply made facade for the ignorant and the shallow… the stink, the grime and the cheapness comes gushing out for all to see.

      Example: Instead of proper city planning and timed expansions in order to meet a beneficial cause and effect scenario with the example touched on in the article… the developers pay off the officials to expedite the project’s undeserved approval.

      So the solution? Simple. Replace the greedy pigs (who would sell the country’s future for a Toyota Corolla and a steak dinner) currently in service with Filipinos who actually have moral fiber, dignity, respect for their homeland and the understanding that what ever they sow, they will ultimately reap.

      So… like I said in the beginning, the government is indeed the problem.

    1. Common misconception kasi satin na hiwalay tayo sa gobyerno. Para bang magic nalang na inaayos nila dapat lahat ng problema natin. Their business is also our business ika nga. Dapat tayo makialam, para sa kaunlaran.

      1. Actually, this is a good point. Citizens should be part of the governing process. I believe many people don’t know how this is done. Write your congressman for a start.

    2. @Pilipino so can you tell us how are we suppose to “makialam” sa mambabatas (aka magnanakaw)? craft laws? JUAN DE TANGA DE BOBO chooses thieves to represent them so there you go.. nakialam nga naman kaso tanga gong-gong bobo eh.

  4. Do you know someone who has the latest Apple gadgets – mac book air, mac book pro, iphone 5, and yet is only on a pre-paid plan or only has one of those usb Flashdrive globe Tattoo/Smart Bro internet connections? Manila is like that person.

    1. those usb connections happen to be the best available connections in the country…the rest of the choices suck.

      Ms.Kate, “YUCK” is the perfect adjective for Metro-Manure! it is just a cesspool. The high-rise towers are built to faulty specs and will eventually fall down. The fire-fighting capabilities of the MM firefighters resembles a garden hose when compared to more modern places like any Western city. The failure to anticipate all that comes with these things will only add to the tradgedy that is that hell-hole city.

  5. In my experience modern living is I can do tons of things online. Renew passport, get govt agency clearances, renew vehicle insurance/registration, online banking, online shopping. One can even apply loans or invest online. Can you do that in MM? And with only 1 line rail transit?

  6. The good news.
    The other day scientist said earth can support life for 1.75 billion years.
    The bad news.
    Filipino’s need 1.8 billion years to fix Manila’s stone age infrastructure.

  7. When you pack too many people into a small space without any plan on what they will do or how to live there… that place most often becomes a cesspool. Poor planning, no planning, no thought… I suppose that’s one way Metro Manila demonstrates one of the Filipino’s greatest faults. Lack of proper intellect.

  8. There were plans by our esteemed officals…well..plans for dinner with mistress at 8:00 pm, plans for a quickie trip at the nearest massage/ktv at 10:30pm, go home drunk at 4:00 am, go to the office late..and just sign those papers without even reading it without a care in the world what the hell did he just sign with..then rinse and repeat. Hey, I got lots of millions of pesosesosesoses šŸ˜€

    Metro Manila, is a contrast mirror to itself.
    We have these high-rise buildings, towers, condos, those glimmering lights with all the people in there..and we’ve got the low-rise squatter’s area who are the first to take the brunt of the next big storm. But hey, this isn’t particularly unique here some places overseas even have worse than this. But then again, that isn’t really a valid reason as to why this should not be improved in some way. These floods especially in places where it SHOULD NOT flood in the first place are being flooded now, that is some scary shit right there. I still live in an area where it is unaffected by the floods but, time will tell when.. I guess the best thing people can do is just watch, after all TV is a big thing around here.

    Filipino’s do have intelect, they just don’t know how to use it properly. In some cases, they don’t use it the right way in which this sadly puts us to shame but most people don’t really feel shame at all. That’s why the term “kapal ng mukha”, “kapal ng apog” exists here.

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