Why London’s anti-homeless spikes are a great idea Filipinos should take note of

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A public uproar has erupted over a photo of metal studs installed on floors at the entrance of luxury apartment buildings in London to deter homeless people from sleeping in these areas. No less than the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has reportedly joined the social media indignation frenzy condemning these fixtures as “ugly, self defeating & stupid”. The spikes, the Lord Mayor says in a tweet, are “simply not the answer”.

The circus started after Twitter user @Fanxxxxtastic posted the following tweet along with the photo…

Sums up Britain today. Anti homeless spikes.

anti_homeless_spikes

The tweet makes it sound like the Britain of “today” represents some kind of degeneration of a Britain of yesteryears. Funny that. Yesterday, the 9th of June, happens to be the death anniversary of Charles Dickens. Dickens who died on that day in 1870 is the author of the seminal book Oliver Twist. Set in Victorian London, it is the story of an orphan, Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker then escapes and travels to London where he falls into the company of a gang of juvenile pickpockets. Poverty is a prominent concern in Oliver Twist. Throughout the novel, Dickens enlarges on this theme, describing slums so decrepit that whole rows of houses are on the point of ruin. In an early chapter, Oliver attends a pauper’s funeral with Mr. Sowerberry and sees a whole family crowded together in one miserable room.

Dickensian London is pretty much 21st Century Metro Manila today. London has since become a modern humming thriving metropolis, one of the world’s greatest cities. Metro Manila is the opposite — an archetypical southeast Asian megalopolis that fits Dickens’s description of the 19th Century human cesspool that London was.

Metro Manila’s biggest scourge is its vast squatter infestation. The Philippines’ squatters (called “informal settlers” in polite company) are an immense community of illegal settlers imbued with a gargantuan sense of entitlement by Filipino politicians chronically starved for the popular vote. The squatter colonies that blanket Metro Manila and most major Philippine cities are essentially Vote Farms — carefully-cultivated with tender loving care by mayors, senators, House Representatives, governors, and presidents to ensure an abundant harvest of cheap votes come election time.

Squatters render vast tracts of public and private property virtually unusable. Evicting them involves slogging through mounds of bureaucratic red tape and paperwork making it beyond the means of smaller businesses and property owners to handle. They also account for much of the solid waste that clogs Manila’s waterways and sewerage systems contributing to the seasonal flooding that paralyses much of the metropolis and costs the economy billions of dollars every year. Squatters allowed to settle on low-lying oceanfront areas and flood plains account for a big chunk of casualties arising from “natural” calamities such as the numerous tropical storms that hit the Philippines every year.

Filipino squatters would simply look at those London anti-homeless spikes, and laugh. Applying a bit of that world-renowned “Filipino ingenuity”, one can easily imagine a number of simple Third World solutions. My preferred workaround to the little setback of “anti-homeless spipkes” is to simply bring a plywood board and place it above the studded floor.

Voila!

Mi cama por la noche!

Before any of our Filipino social media “mavens” take up the cause of their Continental counterparts, perhaps they should first take stock of the more in-your-face solutions Filipino property owners implement in their own more desperate efforts to combat “informal settlement”. Most vacant lots in the Philippines are ringed by barbed-wire fences and heavily armed guards are posted on the entrances of most buildings, business establishments, and affluent residential enclaves. Enough said, as there is enough of these banal practices to throw a wet towel on the Philippines’ flaccid efforts of becoming a true socially-just society.

I do wonder where these social media “activists” get off making a big deal about stuff like this while turning blind eyes and zipped-up mouths to the many vagrants who routinely deface public property and redecorate nice places to suit their a-la pobre aesthetic senses. Maybe it’s time the First World look to the Third World with the aim of getting a bit of perspective for a change. There are lessons to be learned from the Third World, contrary to popular belief. You just need to look for those lessons with a real mind.

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the Wikipedia.org article “Oliver Twist” 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.]
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10 Comments on “Why London’s anti-homeless spikes are a great idea Filipinos should take note of”

  1. While Metro Manila is crowded and overrun by squatters, many “growth areas” identified 15~20 years ago are now virtual ghost towns. Subic & Clark (among many others) could be metropolises by now. Given the high grade infrastructure and government incentives they once had, they could have become another Singapore. What happened?

    Speaking of the city state, the best anti-homeless devices are, well… homes and jobs.

    1. At Subic, well – Payumo happened. Politics was given more importance over investments and volunteerism. That was Administrative Order Number 1 from Erap. We used to love going to SBMA. The high civic spirit then has all died now.

      About squatters, I’ve tried offering jobs to some. They do prefer to just beg on the streets. No time-in/time-out, no responsibilities, no boss, no taxes, and yet all the love in the world from the local politician. How did we let this happen?

      1. they should be shot and their organs harvested and sold to the black market. and their female relatives and kids sold to white slavery. we get rid of a non-preforming populace and lessen the burden on our resources. and make money on the side. sounds like a win-win solution to me. #IFonlySO

  2. >>I do wonder where these social media “activists” get off making a big deal about stuff like this while turning blind eyes and zipped-up mouths to the many vagrants who routinely deface public property and redecorate nice places to suit their a-la pobre aesthetic senses.<<

    Just because we became outraged because of this means we are blind to what is happening locally? How did you arrive at such a conclusion so quickly? So just because I have third-world problems, I should not make "sawsaw" with those cruelties happening in our "continental counterparts"?

    You are the one making an issue out of something that shouldn't be reprimanded. We are outraged because this is happening at this day and age, period. It does not mean we don't care about the local problems of squatters.

    Don't assume everybody else is narrow-minded as you. Go back to sleep in your bed of roses.

    1. You bleeding hearts would throw your entire lives to defend these worthless scum. Granted, the way they implemented these measures leaves it to expected, when these ungrateful cockroaches keep on defacing and trashing everything around them at the expense of others no matter how much you nicely tell them not to, it’s time to get drastic.

      Having seen these “people” up close, squatters, as a whole, will never learn to leave short of putting a gun on their heads.

      1. And putting a gun on their heads won’t always work. Normally THEY would to that first to you. I know, I’ve experienced it. It was the first time for me to stare at a barrel of a gun, and honestly had I was armed then only one of us would be breathing now.

        So no, I do NOT have ANY piece of sympathy over these cockroaches. I DO, however, recognize that getting rid of them will not involve killing every one of them.

        2 reasons:
        1) SOME… and I emphasize that a LITTLE % of that population deserves a chance to get out of that situation. These people really fight for their dreams and their goals, and they were really just dealt a bad hand. What they need is somebody to show them that there is STILL a way out.

        2) Instead of killing them, why not just use them. For example, develop and area and create jobs and provide opportunity outside the main city. I’m sure some of the smarter ones will leave. They get a better opportunity, while I get more income… win-win

        And if we’re gonna wait for our government to do that, it’s probably gonna take hell to freeze over before that happens.

        Hopefully this reduces the number of parasites enough to make them a minority. Those that won’t cooperate… well them we can get rid off no problem. At least we weeded out those who deserves a chance right?

  3. Homelessness will alway be a problem. First world countries or third world countries. Some of the homeless needs Psychiatric care. In our country; it is lack of good paying jobs and opportunities.

    Some Filipino property owners may put broken bottles on their properties. Or put poisonous snakes on public lands. Along the river banks, and under the bridge; spike some nails also.

    This problem of squatters needs to be prioritized, more than the “palabas” that Aquino is giving us.

  4. I do not know enough about this so will not offer much on this essay. People migrating for opportunities is an natural as elephants crossoing a continent in search of water.

    Good luck with all those people,the RH bill was 20 years too late it seams….where you going to put these people,HA LOL! Good luck with that.

    Next up John aint, to tell us all everything about how to fix everything and exactly who to blame for the work not getting done.

    America maybe calling ‘Harry Truman’ but hey, The Philippines has Johm Saint, you filipino’s u, u so lucky!!!!

  5. These informal settlers are also the ones who does not want to work and always looks for the easy way out to survive. Only a handful of them deserves the help they need.

    Everyday I pass this park in Manila when going to the office. It always make me think that here i am striving to commute everyday to feed my family, and these people degrading the park by their wastes and by sleeping in the walkways also relies on passers by like me for them to survive. I also refer them as “factory ng tao”.

    Is there a way to somewhat program their brains to think?

  6. The “Lina Law” which repealed the anti-squatting law shall be repealed so that squatting shall become a crime again. I agree with bluedestiny…the government must find ways to use them(biscuits, anyone?) such that they won’t think that receiving dole outs is the way to live life. Those who cannot undergo reform anymore shall be sentenced to mandatory military deployment to be pitted against insurgents and the like.

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