Manila’s gated communities should be opened to public access to alleviate traffic

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Gated communities, like jeepneys, are stopgap measures that became institutionalised and so ingrained in the national psyche that, as we see in the general tone of the debate surrounding this issue, people simply find it next to impossible to comprehend the cancerous nature of their existence. They are legacies of a succession of weak and inutile governments that ruled since independence in 1946. These governments had delegated all responsibility for building public social and physical infrastructure to the private sector — whether it be public transport, rescue and relief capability, education, and management of residential community and infrastructure services and development.

And so this is what we get — chaotic and haphazard development, administration and operation of just about everything to do with social and community development. The Metro Manila cityscape is dotted by vast swaths of inaccessible private gated communities. They are cancerous because they choke the life out of the city.

Gated communities today are to the challenge of coherent community development as jeepneys are to the development of a coherent mass transportation system. Both the gated community and the jeepney are short-term fixes that went on to become deeply-ingrained stains in the fabric of the society and are now hindrances to achieving much-needed leaps in development.

Residents of Metro Manila’s exclusive villages will justify the privilege of closing off and fortifying their neighbourhood against the bigger community by pointing out that the Philippine police lack the resources to secure their personal assets. But then stop and think about what this position on the matter of inadequate police resources means. Inadequate law enforcement is a public issue. More importantly, it is a community challenge. For all the platitudes and pretentious demonstrations of bayanihan exhibited by residents of limited-access enclaves in times of crises, at the very heart of their routine lives is a blanket refusal on their part to participate in the overall community as a matter of general habit.

Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay's motorcade stopped by security at Dasmarinas Village, Makati in 2013
Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay’s motorcade stopped by security at Dasmarinas Village, Makati in 2013
Even more disturbing, most of Filipinos’ elected officials live within these gated communities. How then do you expect these officials, who have no real stake in the bigger community, to govern fairly and with the broader interests of the larger community within their higher set of priorities?

We wonder, for example: Why does the Makati Police suck? It is because the tiny elite of Makati society who have the wealth and influence to lobby for a better police force don’t really have a strong enough motivation to step up to that role. They simply build a wall on the right side of the moat and raise a private army to secure their domain — leaving the public police force to rot under the management of government officials elected by a half-brained electorate. Indeed, look at all those medieval towns that dot Europe — the way a walled castle or palace is surrounded by a town of humble houses. They are hundreds of years old. Yet the Philippine residential landscape pretty much mirrors those archaic community structures.

If I were a real activist, I’d campaign for the election of politicians who can demonstrate having true skin in the game — those who live the way the majority of Filipinos live and who are subject to the same public services ordinary Pinoys who live outside of gated communities suffer.

How, after all, can an elected official living in a gated community and enjoying the vastly superior security and community services it affords claim to truly understand — no, personally feel for — the plight of the majority of their constituents? For that matter, why would a voter even choose a person whose very lifestyle is hinged upon an ability to isolate herself from their voters’ ways of life? It seems many Filipinos fail to see that politicians living in gated communities can never have enough skin in the game played by most ordinary Filipinos. Indeed, they will never have the same sense of urgency to, say, improve police services — because they can afford to pay for their gated communities’ private security forces and afford to ignore what goes on beyond their personal fortresses.

Beyond the issues of dynasties and the scourge of “traditional” politicians, the very notion of voting for a person who as a matter of routine deliberately excludes himself or herself from the day-to-day challenges of their constituents’ way of life points to the fundamental flaw in how Filipinos wield the so-called “power” democracy has vested in them. Filipino voters should start wisening up and start electing politicians who are truly one of them, the ones who are not living a cozy life within these gated communities. When that happens, we may start seeing legislation that could see the advent of the dismantling of these gated communities.

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16 Comments on “Manila’s gated communities should be opened to public access to alleviate traffic”

  1. Might be a good idea, but then those communities would no longer be
    private’ now would they? At what point does the state step in and pull an ‘Imminent Domain’ on these people and how are they to be compensated,if at all?if it is PRIVATE land and it is converted into use by the public ,there has got to be recompense. BUT THEN AGAIN, IDK if ‘Imminent Domain’ is even on the books in the Phailippnes. It is in every Western Democracy that I’ve ever resided in.
    So, cough up some CA$H Manila OR get to steppin…BIOTCH !!!

    1. Its “Eminent Domain” and yes, it is in the “books” of the Philippines. Its a matter of paying an indemnity for the use/acquisition of private lands.D

    2. forget about living in a gated communities. We now have condos here & there are plenty of them both here in Metro Manila & even in some parts of the province, [as in you could built it in a middle of a farm lot]!!! Believe it or not, you could see it here in the Philippines & they might be the alternative way on so-called “subdivisions”. Maybe this will be another way to solve the traffic problems in Metro Manila & other urban cities in our country, OUCH!!!

      But then again, those condos are only benefit for the rich & not the poor ones, unless if our gov’t is willing to pour their money to build a cheap condos for the masa & for the informal settlers but this is just an expectation & not a reality. But if this will be a reality, then it won’t be as comfortable & cleaner as one from the cheap condos for the lower & middle classes in Singapore. :\

  2. Manila, Quezon City, and Makati’s gated communities should be demolished to symbolically mark the end of oligarchy in the country.

  3. We should also say “Hell No More” to building more shopping malls, subdivisions, and condominiums–for these structures rob the land of its natural beauty, pollutes the environment, and cause the cost of living to go up that poorer sectors of the country have to shoulder.

      1. .say,

        No you wouldn’t. Your taste is too damned discriminating and your nose is up in the clouds. You probably live in the United States, or other foreign countries, and the Philippines is just a playground for you to spend your foreign currency on. Of course, you’d want nice things while you’re there and leave everything for the people to clean up after you leave. So leave your tourist mentality out of the discussion. It doesn’t help.

        Aeta

        1. Has there ever been a time that you weren’t so far up your ass with your opinions thinking you’re always right and everyone else is wrong?

        2. .says:,

          “Has there ever been a time that you weren’t so far up your ass with your opinions thinking you’re always right and everyone else is wrong?”

          Yes, that’s the time when you don’t make your anomalous presence on this site, commenting on something you don’t completely understand, then being told to go to the corner of the room and stay there, until you grow some hair between your legs about what life is really like in the Philippines.

          So put the “dunce” hat on and sit on a stool and shut your mouth, kid, and let the adults talk.

          Aeta

        3. Most countries have gated communities.
          Why do u think only the philippines has them?
          Or u like to point the finger at drug addicts as the reason the rp is no good and now rich people who are doing well….
          Whos next?

        4. TheVoiceof(T)reason,

          You and your fellow dumbass, .says:, should get a hotel room together and bask in each other’s delusions–on how things in the Philippines should be in your over-fantasized minds and not what it really is.

          “Most countries have gated communities.
          Why do u think only the philippines has them? Or u like to point the finger at drug addicts as the reason the rp is no good and now rich people who are doing well….
          Whos next?”

          You’ve just answered your own stupid, fucking question on why the Philippines has gated communities: “drug addicts” (including political and business oligarchs who’ve isolated themselves in their fortresses).

          Use your fucking imagination and picture in your mind there is middle finger pointing in your direction, Nostra-Dumbass.

          Aeta

  4. The growing number of gated communities in this nation is but one example of the obsession with safety. With guards at the gate, individuals still have bars and elaborate internal security systems. Rich people spend more than million of pesos a year on security. When one of my colleagues have stayed with his friends in these communities and inquired as to whether all the security is in response to an actual danger he was told “not really,” that it is the fear of threat rather than a real threat that is the catalyst for an obsession with safety that borders on madness.

    Culturally we bear witness to this madness every day. We can all tell endless stories of how it makes itself known in everyday life. For example, an adult male answers the door when a young male rings the bell. We live in a culture where without responding to any gesture of aggression or hostility on the part of the stranger, who is simply lost and trying to find the correct address, the male shoots him, believing he is protecting his life and his property. This is an everyday example of madness. The person who is really the threat here is the home owner who has been so well socialized by the thinking of supremacy, of capitalism, of patriarchy that he can no longer respond rationally.

    Supremacy has taught him that all people are threats irrespective of their behavior. Capitalism has taught him that, at all costs, his property can and must be protected. Patriarchy has taught him that his masculinity has to be proved by the willingness to conquer fear through aggression; that it would be unmanly to ask questions before taking action. Mass media then brings us the news of this in a newspeak manner that sounds almost jocular and celebratory, as though no tragedy has happened, as though the sacrifice of a young life was necessary to uphold property values and white patriarchal honor. Viewers are encouraged feel sympathy for the male home owner who made a mistake. The fact that this mistake led to the violent death of an innocent young man does not register; the narrative is worded in a manner that encourages viewers to identify with the one who made the mistake by doing what we are led to feel we might all do to “protect our property at all costs from any sense of perceived threat. This is what the worship of death looks like in a country called the Failippines.

    1. “Stop blaming gated communities for the traffic. Start taking the bus.”

      We would take the bus if the country had a government-run bus system, instead of greedy private bus companies owned by the same people living in these gated communities.

      Better yet, if the wealthy Chinese and Korean manufacturers/dealers of brand-name automobiles–who also live in these gated communities–didn’t bribe our government officials not to improve the public transportation system–so they can sell more automobiles to the masses–then we wouldn’t have the kind of road congestion we’re having now; and. we wouldn’t demand that these gated communities be opened to the public to ease traffic.

      Damn, the world really is round isn’t it? But it takes compassion and common sense to realize that.

  5. Gated communities are the manifestation of the failure of good governance in our country. These people living in gated communities are the ELITES of the Philippine society. They have the best standards in living condition…they have wealth (illegal sources or legal sources). They are afraid, that we will steal from them. Or, they are afraid that we will contaminate them with our poverty…

    Anyway, most of those living in gated communities are politicians,or government officials, with questionable sources of wealth !

  6. Gated communities are not privilege people that they can discriminate and can demand things that will only benefit the Elite, most of the time they are hindrance for the benefit of the entire population. I think security is not the issue. They are hindrance to Nation Building. It’s time to wake up and smell the putrid Coffee

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