Dear Mayor Isko


This article is part of Aurora Metropolis’ #Manila448 Series in celebration of Araw ng Maynila. The views expressed by the author does not reflect the view of organizations he represents or he is affiliated with.


The election of Francisco Domagoso, popularly known as Isko Moreno, as Mayor of Manila has become a breath of fresh air for Manileños who are frustrated over the administration of Joseph Ejercito Estrada. His promise to “bring back the glory days” never flourished and the loss of order was unpleasantly evident all over the city. For most locals, six years were enough and it’s about time to kick Estrada out of the throne. Although lagging behind other progressive cities where young leaders are leading their constituencies, at last, by 12 noon of June 30, 2019, Manila will have a young politico to serve as the Philippines’ de facto “Little President”.

A new local chief executive like Domagoso is always equivalent to new beginnings and new plans; however, old goals and old assurances will remain in order of battle. In the case of Manila, it equates to one strong yet unheeded word – “revival”.

Since the city’s annihilation in 1945 due to the Second World War, leaders before us kept on talking about returning its “glory days”. Restoration of the city’s picturesque and lavish character seemed impossible because most of the ruined structures were uniquely built centuries ago. Moreover, as response to the call of the New World Order after the war, Manila was forced to “modernize” which changed its course in the next seventy years. While attempts were done for its gradual revival, the idea of revitalization remained a grand dream waiting to be fulfilled in a grand way.

Revival is indeed an ambitious word for a city like Manila. In urban planning, creating new empires using new blueprints is way cheaper than reviving old empires using old blueprints. While it is practically true, some oldtowns and cities around the globe continue to blend old designs with new technology to preserve its identity and reflect its history for next generation’s sake. Some of them have maintained its stature as leading world capitals because they successfully and effectively merged the past, present and future in their city’s invigorated characters.

Imagine: Manila could still be a prominent world city like Paris if we managed to take care of old structures that shaped its image as the modern city of the Far East before the war. Manila could be more diverse than Hong Kong if we managed to effectively mix the old and the new after the war.

Truth be told: it is not easy to revive Manila’s lost glory. But is it really too late?

It may not be a unique proposition, but if the new Mayor of Manila will have his time to read this, let this author—a simple Manileño who never stops telling the story of this city to the world—to share his two cents to our new young leader:

Dear Mayor Isko…

Please take care of what we have from Old Manila. I am not debunking the traditional definition of revival but as we follow another New World Order, the city—through your leadership—must protect what is left from our glorious past whatever it takes while we continue to redevelop our city. We have seen countless great structures, some of them were sites for historical veneration, being knocked down in the name of modernity and commercialism. It is now the time to exert Maharnilad’s powers to stop ruthless demolition and reckless alteration of old houses, old buildings, old markers and old monuments. You actively pushed for the revitalization of Escolta, Manila Zoo, Lawton, Arroceros Park and other city-owned public spaces during the campaign. Manila needs young blood to find her lost soul and the key to make the search effective is YOU. But we will not just sit here and do nothing. We will help your government make it happen through our own means. Lead us and everything will follow.

It is not easy to revive our desired glory for the Capital City. But it is not too late. Never too late.





“There is hope for Manila in Escolta”

Noong ika-12 ng Hunyo 2015, sa pagdiriwang ng ika-117 anibersaryo ng kasarinlan ng Pilipinas, mapalad ang inyong lingkod na mapili ng, ang opisyal na website ng pahayagang Philippine Daily Inquirer, ang aking piyesa para sa kanilang Independence Day Essays. Malugod ko pong ibinabahagi sa inyo ito.


Editor’s Note: In celebration of the Philippines’ 117th Independence Day, is publishing a series of short essays submitted by our readers who answered the question: “What’s the best that you have done for our country?”

For most of us, a street is just a place where people walk or vehicles pass from and to a specific location. But for some, it becomes a silent witness to personal anecdotes or important events that have shaped moments or, sometimes, milestones in history.

Here in Manila, we have streets that are considered historical. Their written or even unrecorded stories make them alive in spirit, but some of them lack government attention, public appreciation and, in some instances, historic preservation. One of these is Escolta, a street which used to be the Philippines’ central business and shopping district.

It was March 2014 when I started volunteering at Escolta. I just felt that with all things I’ve learned as a concerned Manileño, a history lover, a former college editor and a full-fledged volunteer, I know I can contribute to strengthening public awareness for Escolta’s revitalization.

For over a year now, I have been involved in organizing walking tours and events, and extending their presence on social media. These activities encourage everyone to appreciate, contribute and invest in the street and its iconic buildings. I also serve as coordinator between Escolta’s community leaders and institutions that can possibly contribute to its restoration. We’ve just commenced the Escolta Volunteer Arm, an ensemble of students and young professionals who want to volunteer in reactivating Escolta as a creative hub for young Filipinos.

Through vociferous yet civil means, I hope our government will realize that Escolta is worthy of beautification and redevelopment. In time, with all joint efforts, the historic business center will rise as the city’s promising tourist destination alongside Intramuros and Luneta.

Making people aware of the importance of preserving our 444-year-old capital city’s heritage, like Escolta, is the best thing that I have done, so far, for our country.


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