While I find a bit justified the whole stink being raised around the way the Torre de Manila highrise condominiums being constructed in Manila by developer DMCI Homes is supposedly “ruining” the view of the Rizal Monument, I think we are missing the bigger picture. Metro Manila is an ugly city. And that ugliness did not happen overnight. It was decades in the making.The Torre de Manila circus became a low-level stink when “cultural activist” Carlos Celdran lodged a complaint against it in 2012. It is a high-profile media circus now that Senator Pia Cayetano is involved. The question of what happened between 2012 (when there was nothing marring the “view”) and 2014 (with the half-finished building now blighting the scene) is a microcosmic version of the overall macro question:
What happened between 1960 when Manila was a pretty city and 2014 when everyone suddenly woke up to Manila’s absolute wretched ugliness?
Indeed, the 2-year descent to ugliness described by the Torre de Manila incident may as well be the story of Manila’s 50-year descent from Pearl of the Orient to Human Cesspool.
If Senator Pia Cayetano is going to make this Torre de Manila a Senate issue, then please, madame why not make Metro Manila’s jeepney infestation, estero degeneration, MRT bulok disease, squatter cancer, and all the other components of the Philippine capital’s massive urban decay problem high-profile Senate issues as well?
The Torre de Manila circus is but a mere symptom of Metro Manila’s profound dysfunction and nowhere near the scale of less-prioritised social cancers like what I had enumerated above. That core dysfunction eating the city from the inside has festered for decades. And it is all because there has never been a vision for Metro Manila — only generations of two-bit private-sector initiatives to milk as much money out of this grotesque megalopolis that accounts for more of the entire Philippine economy than all of the other nation’s major cities combined.
The more worthwhile Senate inquiry therefore should go to the root of the problem — why has no such vision, no such comprehensive planning, and no such coherent governance been applied to the development of the Philippines’ premier metropolis?The Philippine Senate is not a local racket. It is a national racket. Senators like Cayetano should be focused on macro national issues. Otherwise she may as well move herself back into the House of Representatives if she wants to continue to pander to these trendy boutique issues.
By addressing the rot upon which maggots like jeepneys, squatters, traffic, criminals, and — yes — crooked development projects like the Torre de Manila feed, Senators like Cayetano will give Filipinos more bang for the buck they pay them.
Time to step up. Step up beyond politics. Step up beyond these inconsequential outrage fads. Step up and prove that the Philippines is on its way to overcoming its world-renowned heritage of smallness. You can’t cure a kid’s kuto infestation by picking on her scalp like a chimpanzee. You need to apply solutions befitting the intellect of human beings.
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