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?
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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.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.