It’s time Filipinos DEMAND ACCESS to exclusive private subdivisions!

The conversation surrounding the opening up of private subdivision roads to the public has been fired up again thanks to Manila’s increasingly desperate traffic situation. Indeed, it is one of those obvious solutions begging to be addressed. Big chi chi subdivisions create choke points at key entry point and junctions into and at Metro Manila’s busiest districts. The “villages” of Magallanes, San Lorenzo, Forbes, and Dasmarinas, for example, turn south EDSA and its intersections with the South Luzon Expressway and McKinley Road (which connects the Bonifacio area to Makati and Manila) into the stuff of nightmares. At EDSA’s midpoint, we have the tony enclaves of Wack Wack, Greenhills, and Corinthian Gardens crowding its beleaguered intersection with Ortigas Avenue.

These fortified residential enclaves where the average family of four or five occupies an area the size of a parking lot are like tumors growing around key nerve centres of the Philippines’ top megalopolis. It’s time Filipinos put their foot down. Why should the broader public continue to tolerate this affront to community standards?

More important is the rather astounding argument residents of these enclaves use to challenge calls for them to give up their private space for the common good. They say that their enclaves are sealed off due to “security concerns”. What are these security concerns? Simple. Manila’s chi chi elite are “concerned” that ordinary Filipinos will threaten their safety. They are afraid of ordinary Filipinos. In essence, residents of these enclaves are keeping the “barbarians” that are the the rest of Philippine society at bay. The walls, the tall iron gates, the heavily-armed private security guards, and the visa requirements they impose on outsiders wanting to visit their communities reflect this outrageous sentiment.

See this hypocrisy for what it is. Rich Filipinos believe they are too important to be reliant on the police for their personal safety. They would rather rely on private armies and security forces to secure themselves. What does that say for their regard of the police and ordinary Filipinos — easy: the police services are only good enough for ordinary Filipinos. Rich Filipinos deserve the best security their money (not public funds) can buy. Imagine that.

The rich will, of course, complain about the police. They’ll say that the police are corrupt, ill-equipped, and incompetent. And yet, amongst the rich residents of these little walled cities are people who are in the best position to change that. The Philippines’ top politicians, industrialists, and opinion-shapers live within these gated communities. But how can they be motivated to do just that if they don’t have skin in the game??

The solution is quite clear. Residents of these fortified enclaves need to be subject to the same public facilities ordinary Filipinos rely on. They need to rely on the same police force for their safety and security, need to rely on the same public water works (and not horde supplies using their private reservoirs), be subject to the fumes and dust emitted and kicked up by jeepneys and buses, and share their public spaces with ordinary Filipinos. When rich and powerful people experience the same things ordinary people experience, they gain a more authentic understanding of the challenges faced by the broader Filipino community.

This is the real revolution Filipinos need to mount — dismantle the physical vestiges of their rich elite’s priviliges. This is nothing like the communism advocated by the traditional “activism” of moronic organisations like Anakbayan, the League of Filipino Students, and “representatives” like Sarah Elago. Nobody is curtailing the right and freedom of every Filipino to enrich themselves through legal means in a free market. This is not a revolution to kill the capitalist. This is a REAL and modern revolution ordinary Filipinos need to take up. It is one that seeks to dismantle the infrastructure of privilege that is far more obvious and far more tangible than the “privilege” snowflake “activists” tell everyone to “check” in their quaint “activist” sloganeering.

It begins with dismantling the monstrosities that are these exclusive residential enclaves that the rich and powerful cocoon themselves within. Time to make them face what is real and give them real motivation to walk the talk they tap into their iPads while sipping their lattes in Starbucks.

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27 Comments on “It’s time Filipinos DEMAND ACCESS to exclusive private subdivisions!”

  1. Actually, regarding some of these “private subdivisions”, you actually have a lot of these subdivisions whose developer donated the “road lots”, so they are no longer private. Case in point is the Varsity Hills Subdivision near ADMU as seen on the Gadget Addict Video. When the government traced back the records, all the roads are public roads, not private. Therefore, the subdivision/homeowners have no right to block the roads with their “guardhouses”.

    The LGU’s simply need to check which roads are public road lots within subdivisions. If they are private roads, then that means the roads are developed and maintained by the subdivision/homeowner’s and they pay real property tax for them. It is an entirely different matter if that is the case. You may need to “buy” the road lots to make them public roads.

    I’m not sure what they did with Wilson Street that split Greenhills East Subdivision into 2, but I am assuming it was bought by the LGU to open up that road, but I am not certain so someone please correct me if I am misremembering that area.

  2. I’m not really a fan of this step of opening subdivisions nowadays either, but the raising of this issue reflects how few actual solutions are being discussed. The more intensive solutions such as banning the boundary system, abolishing the provincial wage board, cutting business red tape and developing better public transport are pushed to the sidelines.

    1. I believe these subdivisions started as suburbs, back when population was sparse in that area. Development simply caught up.

      There should be a stronger push for decentalization and develop other parts of the country, away from congested Manila.

      I can understand the frustration of being caught in the congestion, having come from that myself, but somehow railing against it a la “rich vs. poor”…I do beg to differ.

    2. I do remember where this suggestion came from. When people started putting posts or roadblocks to prevent people parking by the curb in front of their own house, a lawyer friend posted on Facebook that it is illegal. The road is not part of any private property, so no one can claim it to block others from parking on “their space.” Only government agencies could put out ordinances on that. But that presents the question, if the road is public, why should subdivisions claim roads as part of their property? Perhaps someone more familiar with the law can tell us more about that.

      1. There are public roads where the road title/tct is owned by the government. So no entity pays for its amilyar/real property tax.

        But there are also private roads with a road lot tct/title but owned by an entity/corporation or individual. Here, the owner(s) pay for the amilyar, and even the rehabilitation/repair of the road.

        So, if you want to make them public, you’d have to exercise the governments eminent domain power, which will go through courts, and eventually pay who the owner is to buy it back to make it public.

        It is a long process and you’d also have to show how it will be for the ‘greater good’ if i’m not mistaken.

        But like i mentioned in my comment, there are subdivisions where their roads are public road lots and not owned by the subdivision, hence their gating the roads are actually illegal. No need for the long process of going thru eminent domain rules since they are just using illegal structures to ‘secure’ their compound.

        1. What 17Sphynx17 said.

          Good examples of privately owned but publicly accessed roads are Cebu Business Park and IT Park. The road is public access. But maintenance is done by the private owners.

          Now it is understandable to make those roads public access since these are commercial areas.

          But residential areas like subdivisions? That is a different story.

        2. Thanks. I was under the impression that all roads are public property. That subdivisions can “own” roads is new to me since I don’t live in one. I don’t know if my lawyer friend who said roads are public property lives in one, but I’ll have to recheck.

        3. Hmm, I did a bit of reading around and I wonder if these contradict:

          “While the subject is about roads, haven’t you asked yourself who is in charge in maintaining the roads of subdivisions? There are several gated and open subdivisions in your neighborhood and possibly you’ve noticed that they are now in miserable conditions. For the uninformed, subdivision roads are suppose to be donated to the local government where it is located. And there is a process in donating the roads. The donation should pass through the municipal/city council for discussions, and possibly a public hearing to deliberate upon if to accept or not.

          Legally, subdivision roads are considered open spaces and if not donated to the local government, real property taxes should be imposed. But when the subdivision owners/developers will offer the spaces for donation, the roads must be in good conditions before the acceptance. Otherwise, the council will outright refuse the deed.”

          https://www.sunstar.com.ph/article/148472 (2017)

          “Applying the above cited decision in your situation, the road is a private property owned by the homeowners’ association. The latter has the right to control the said property. The barangay cannot claim ownership of the road because the same was not donated, sold or expropriated by the barangay or local government unit. The fact also that the road is being used by the general public will not convert the same into a public property.”

          https://www.manilatimes.net/2019/03/14/legal-advice/dearpao/ownership-of-subdivision-road/525292/525292/ (Mar 2019)

      2. @ChinoF

        Regarding your query.

        Per Section 31 of PD957 under HLURB Website (refer to page 64)
        http://www.hudcc.gov.ph/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/document/IRR%20PD%20957.pdf

        Donating of the Road Lots and Open Spaces to the LGU/Municipality or Government was optional per the law. This law was signed on July 12, 1967.

        So because of the above, since it is optional, not all subdivisions that were designed based on this law, donated to make them public roads.

        However, in later life of the Philippine Government, they enacted PD1216 which should apply to “newer” subdivision as it amended PD957 Section 31.

        http://hlurb.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/laws-and-issuances/PD1216.pdf

        Page 2 clearly shows that now, it is no longer optional to keep the roads private and it should be donated as it updated wording of Section 31 of PD957.

        “Upon completion as certified to by Authority, the roads, alleys, sidewalks and playgrounds SHALL BE donated by the owner/developer to the city or municipality…..”

        PD 1216 was signed on October 14, 1977.

        So, per PD1216, all subdivisions after 1977 should have complied with donating their road lots, but subdivisions 1977 or “older” before the law, it was only optional and they could retain their road lots as private road lots.

        I would think PD1216 would not retroactively apply to existing subdivisions that were previous approved, so it would make sense why some of them can maintain their exclusivity.

        I hope that helps in clarifying why there are 2 examples with differing situations yet both seem “correct”.

  3. Here lies the reason why Westerners will never ever trust even the most educated of Filipinos:

    The solution is quite clear. Residents of these fortified enclaves need to be subject to the same public facilities ordinary Filipinos rely on. They need to rely on the same police force for their safety and security, need to rely on the same public water works (and not horde supplies using their private reservoirs), be subject to the fumes and dust emitted and kicked up by jeepneys and buses, and share their public spaces with ordinary Filipinos.

    The level of foolishness behind such a suggestion is just downright reprehensible.

  4. Unfortunately, the “revolution” can’t be done as suggested here. But I get that there’s some exaggeration in this just to get the point across.

  5. Those people who are “rich and some infamous”, who live in those exclusive enclaves of subdivision, will never give up their rights of privilege that their money can buy.

    They don’t want us, ordinary Filipinos, the “common tao” to be near them. We may not smell right to them, or look right to them…but, this is the reality ever since.

    During the Spanish times, the Spaniards and the Filipino mestizos, were the privilege ones…we ordinary people, were the , “Filipino Indios”…they looked down upon us…

    Now, the rich and the infamous, took over this privileged class. The communists maybe right in its “class warfare issues”, but most of the communist leaders are living in “rich and infamous ” style here and abroad, while their NPA guerrillas are living in dismal conditions in far flung mountains…

    For sure this will never be resolved, because most of our leaders and politicians, are living in those exclusive subdivisions !

  6. I strongly disagree with this suggestion.

    I am not an elite nor anywhere close to it whatsoever. I consider ourselves a middle class family with select luxury. I live in a subdivision that is quite far off the major city, but is connected to a now major road Ortigas Avenue Extension (that long stretch from Tikling to Robinson Galleria and beyond).

    I wouldn’t even want come to the idea of private subdivisions opening up their roads to the public. I’m not even going to argue about the security side of the argument, I just think private homes should be entitled to the peaceful neighborhood that they have paid for when deciding to settle in that subdivision. I know how bad it is to live off in a house on the side of a bustling road, the cars that won’t shut their horns during a major traffic at night, pollution of buses and trucks driving by, and other nuisances. I wouldn’t want to go back to those sort of nuisances keeping me up at night, so I wouldn’t think of wanting others to suffer that fate. For the subdivision landlords, I highly doubt they want that as well because traffic and pollution degrades land value for residential use.

    Am I selfish for not agreeing with opening up private subdivisions for public traffic? Perhaps, but I am well within my rights to be selfish in wanting to keep my place of residence as peaceful as we have been promised.

    Stretching further, if I’m a political conspiracy nutjob, I’ll even say that your “greater good” argument sounds quite the communist promise.

    As a solution to traffic, I still think reliable public transports are the best solution. Metro Train lines that don’t break down everyday, shuttle services like UV express and buses for high capacity transport, *modernized* jeeps, and most importantly PUV drivers that are respectable and responsible. That said, I have really low expectations for the Philippine government and transportation groups to get their acts together and actually get things done.

    1. In short, instead of simply adding more accessible roads as what you’re essentially suggesting, we need a way to decrease the presence of vehicles in the road. If traffic is as bad as it gets, then all that would happen is that those private subdivision roads will simple get clogged up as bad as other public roads, which would lead to wanting more roads to open access until those roads also get clogged up. With traffic as bad as it is, you can assume cars to be an infinite liquid that fills up the whole container wherever possible (the roads in this case).

      When I mean decreasing the amount of vehicles on the road, I don’t mean enforcing more coding restrictions and whatnot (the rich will just buy more cars with different plates to circumvent that anyway). My best case scenario is if people with cars would willingly NOT use their cars going to work or elsewhere in favor of public transportation. For traffic to be solved, we need to change public mindset. Public transport is actually better than private transport, and it SHOULD be factually better not just wishful thinking. If MRT and LRT arrive on the clock, don’t break down, have enough going around to cater to the influx of passengers during rush hours, then people might use those more assuming train fares beat the cost of paying for your own gas.

    2. Thanks Random Citizen (and Chino too who earlier shared a similar sentiment). I think these are all fair positions to take and having myself (as well as other GRP writers) been very articulate about our own distaste for many of the culturally-rooted aspects of Philippine society that make life amongst the masses unbearable, I don’t really blame this selfish view.

      This is really highlights the very indictment on Philippine society as a whole we’ve long been expressing — that this is a society where people can’t stand one another. The walls we build between one another’s communities attest to this inherent character of our society. It shows that from the micro level all the way up to the macro, the Philippines is a deeply-divided society.

      A proposal to open up private subdivisions is, of course, unrealistic. Nonethless, I put it up in this article as a loud call-to-action mainly to highlight that, regardless of how unrealistic the “solution” is, the problem nonetheless is a serious one — one that is at the root of why real solutions to problems that affect Philippine society as a whole never get prioritised much less implemented.

      1. The best solution to the EDSA traffic chaos? close all parking spaces in OFFICE buildings along Ayala, Buendia, Ortigas Avenues, Business Districts. This will force the private car owners to take public transport from where they were able to park their cars. But of course, government must do its part: upgrade the public transport system to the likes of Japan. Just my two cents. (am just a comments reader but this time, allow me to be a commenter.)

      2. Thanks, Webmaster. But I hope everyone else gets that raising this topic points to the problems being cultural in their roots, and hopefully discussions and actions more gravitate to addressing that. Subdivisions themselves descended from when rich families, specific classes (insular, peninsulares, crioles? Such as the Tuason family owning Diliman then) owned huge portions of lands. Everyone else living on the land would be subject to them. Also, think of Intramuros, the walled city. As per my impression, everyone “legitimate” lived inside, while the pariahs would live outside. Such as the Chinese then, living in what was once called the Parian (back then, they had names for these things). Post-World war 2, I believe the first rich subdivision was Philam Homes along Edsa, then we had those villages in Makati, then all the rest. I don’t know if they were walled and gated from the start, I’d that’s what I’d like to know. But it smacks of the old ways where you segregate people into classes and treat them badly or nicely according to that. Anybody outside your walls is shit, isn’t that how human nature would put it? That’s still quite the attitude of some even today, I believe.

      3. This is really highlights the very indictment on Philippine society as a whole we’ve long been expressing — that this is a society where people can’t stand one another. The walls we build between one another’s communities attest to this inherent character of our society. It shows that from the micro level all the way up to the macro, the Philippines is a deeply-divided society

        This is also true for all societies. Even 1st World societies are deeply-divided. Yet, even in this division, people will group themselves. As an oversimplified example to prove this, people of a specific financials status prefer to live with other people of the similar financial status.

        This means the deep division is NOT the root cause of the problem. Division is intrinsic in as humans as social creatures.

        The Filipino culture of asking someone else to compromise for him/her is the ROOT CAUSE of this, proven by our road culture. A typical tyrannical tendency to force others to adjust for his/her benefit.

        And this is also shown by you, Benign0, in your own article.

      4. Let me raise another thing: many “wokes” come from these rich gated communities. They’re the ones who would say, “rich should give to the poor!” But when met by a beggar outside their community gates, they might cry “magnanakaw” and scurry into the safety of their gates. It’s an irony that’s a lot more stupid than Benign0’s proposal.

        I also see the trouble between moving from an old-school class-oriented society to a modern day egalitarian one. Metro Manila developed without any plan and originally had the idea of having certain people segregated in certain areas. For example, richer businessmen in Philam Homes and the Makati villages, while workers live in Projects 1 to 8, then go to work in the many factories or other institutions in Mandaluyong, Pasig and more. But practice often doesn’t follow plans; some people in the posh villages might no longer be rich, and then you have rich people living in the Projects. Plus, you have the chaos of different mayors encouraging more development (for more kickbacks, of course), and leading to the city’s overcrowding, and this also contributed to ruining the social organization explained above. Zoning also means you have masses of people going from one specific place to work or do something in another specific place, so they all clog the roads together. Now that we want traffic to be eased, the solution is harder than it seems, because the causes are all over the place. What was previously built and instituted makes it difficult to do, including the posh villages that take up precious space, space that some today believe should have been used in a different way.

      5. Hmm, okay there is merit in opening the discussion, despite me disagreeing with your proposed solution. As someone who commutes to work, I feel that traffic gets exponentially worse every year. Like, almost a decade ago I still remember the days when I go out at 6am because congestion starts at 7am. Nowadays, congestion starts at 5am.

        Safe to say that 80% of the road is filled with private vehicles. Every year more and more cars seem to be on the road. There’s no stopping automobile industry. Well, you could propose a halt in their operations in the Philippines, but that’s blatantly anti-business that could hurt any politician’s career.

        That’s not to say the 20% public vehicles aren’t to blame as well. All it takes to clog EDSA or C5 or any road is for undisciplined buses / jeeps / shuttles to take two lanes in parallel when loading and unloading passengers. We have had numerous driver training publicized again and again, but bad apples just keep popping up. And speaking of passengers, the desperate ones who are really late at work would take up an entire lane of the road just so they could get on the bus or jeep, thereby helping to make things worse.

        If we want to fix the system, we need to fix the people, but to fix the people, the system HAS to work. It’s a negative downwards spiral.

        With your comment about us being a deeply divided society, I can’t really agree about it, but I don’t disagree either. It’s not like I personally know my neighbors and everyone within the walled compounds of my subdivision so there’s no sense of camaraderie which we could use to group up and isolate ourselves from the rest of the “outside world”. If you are implying the concept of tribalism with respect to subdivisions, I can’t wholly digest that idea since I don’t really know a lot about my neighbors. For all I know, some of them could be criminals or whatnot. What I mean to say is while we did get to choose our residence, we didn’t really take into account the preexisting community there as there’s no feasible way to check. But that’s the thing: I don’t really know my neighbors, but I live with them and I don’t mind so long as there is no inherent criminal activity in my residence or close by. In which case police will probably get involved and security will increase. Fortunately, where I live there aren’t really major incidents beyond those that can be solved on a barangay level.

      6. Yes. The common thread here and the common thread across most of what we write about comes down to culture. As you pointed out, Chino, Intramuros seems to stand out as the embryo of what was to become an architecture of the Philippines’ class hierarchy that would persist over centuries. Therein that hierarchy that remains evident today, as you also point out, lies the profound hypocrisy in the actions and posturing of the Philippines’ wokedom who issue talk they could not possibly walk in any sustainable manner.

        Things brings us to the conundrum Random Citizen describes… “If we want to fix the system, we need to fix the people, but to fix the people, the system HAS to work. It’s a negative downwards spiral.”

        I’d go further to say Filipinos aren’t a people known for systems thinking and, therefore, wouldn’t posses the essential skills to solve problems systemically. This is why everything remains stuck in and unable to move beyond political chatter — because political chatter, in essence gossip, is an easy space to squander brain power amongst lazy thinkers.

  7. Getting off more private vehicles off the road sounds good, but should there be a separate public transport for the upper classes? Maybe charge them more than the pang masa fares? Oh yeah they’re doing that with buses now.

  8. If you watch that video about the Varsity Hills “subdivision” incident you could see what’s so tragically funny about this country:

    EVERYBODY IS CRYING FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE AND ORDER.

    BUT WHEN WHAT YOU CRY FOR SUDDENLY MAKES YOU AND YOUR LIFE UNCOMFORTABLE, YOU CRY INJUSTICE AND “WHY ME?”

    STUPID FILIPINOS 🙂

  9. I guess we can rule out taking a walk or taking a bike, although this will avoid a costly road repair or the necessity of widening and improving the road due to an ever increasing vehicles that uses the road, to the Pilipinos, this isn’t really the practical thing to do, elite mentality gives more priority to “kayabangan”.

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