Dear Mayor Isko

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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.

#Manila448

 

 

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MANILEÑO DOWNGRADED: “Citizen of the Capital” no more?

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This article is part of Aurora Metropolis’ #Manila447 Series in celebration of Araw ng Maynila. The views expressed by the author does not reflect the view of all organizations he represent or he is affiliated with.


 

Just recently, I’ve read a news about the transfer of the Capital City in line with the proposed Federal Constitution as replacement to our current 31-year-old Constitution.

Speaking on behalf of Rodrigo Duterte’s consultative committee (ConComm) which attempts to draft a “hybrid charter”, lawyer Roan Libarios said in an interview that under the proposed federal government, vital centers shall be divided to other metropolitan areas as way of distributing powers in different regions. He cited the former Clark Airbase in Pampanga as the new administrative center while Metro Cebu can serve as another center to decongest traffic in Metro Manila, the current National Capital Region (NCR).

Libarios emphasized that since the 1987 Constitution does not exactly mandate Manila or Metro Manila as the Philippine capital, the ConComm is open to proposals for a new capital centers that shall serve as images of our country to the world.

This raises many questions in my mind:
– Is Manila become less valuable socially, culturally and politically?
– Is being “congested” an enough reason to hinder Manila from becoming a national capital?
– Do Manileños fail to exemplify a living global image for Filipinos?

Let me share my observations in a micro-perspective: As a Manileño or someone who was born, live and observe the city of Manila for all of his life.

While it is not provided by the current charter, dictator and former president Ferdinand Marcos released Presidential Decree No. 940 on June 24, 1976 “establishing Manila as the capital of the Philippines and as the permanent seat of the national government”. This instituted the formal transfer of the Capital City title to Manila from Quezon City which was declared as such by then president Elpidio Quirino in 1948. Months prior to the declaration of PD 940, Marcos also issued Presidential Decree No. 824 on November 7, 1975 creating Metropolitan Manila and, at the same time, declaring it as NCR. Given these orders from a head of state at that time, it is suffice to say that Manila and Metro Manila are both legally proclaimed as national capitals, contrary to Libarios’ claim that there was no legal mandate on the designation of seats of powers.

However, in the course of Manila’s growing economy in the 1970s, Escolta, the country’s central business district (CBD), started to feel the hardships of running the country’s commercial facet. The issues of traffic congestion, lack of parking areas and bigger office spaces forced big companies and leaders of vital industries to search for new places and build their own business infrastructures. One great example is the Ayala group who saw the potential in the former Makati municipality from a vast empty land to a progressive CBD. The rise of the Ayala Empire in Makati has made Escolta down on its knees as the commercial capital of the Philippines.

Despite the loss of a vital gem in its crown, Manila continues to be relevant in the socio-political arena. It’s not just because Malacañang is located here but, also, Manila served as a significant venue to display the continuing saga of struggling workers, highly-vigilant students and youth leaders and movers of political reforms that led to policy changes, political shifts and, the most memorable of all, ouster of a president.

Linking to Manila’s socio-political value is its history that made the city an invaluable cultural paragon. Since 1571 when Adelantado Miguel Lopez de Legazpi founded the city as the seat of the Spanish empire in the East, Manila became the administrator and messenger – or a dictator, in this matter – of all important instructions and directives from the King of Spain and the Governor General. Even before colonizers controlled the Philippines, Manila’s leadership culture ran in its veins with the emergence of the rajahs, datus and other dominant leaders of pre-Spanish Philippines.

Indeed, it has all the aces to retain the title of the Philippines’ capital, but is it really enough for Manila to continue its duties of becoming the Capital?

Truth be told: Manila is generally filthy, unruly and crammed. Unlike other cities, the capital city shows slower economic development and uncomfortable kind of living. It is mostly dependent to the national government in terms of tourism promotion and development. Poverty is evident in almost all corners of the city and the local government which was led and managed by well-known political juggernauts after EDSA People Power Revolution remains passive with delivering services and initiatives to raise the morale of its citizens.

All of these dilemma made the worse generation of Manileños since pre-World War 2 years – downgraded, dispirited locals who need to endure daily battles first before studying, working and living with dignity, harmony and pride. More of us feel that the government sees us as important because we have their votes in the next elections. More of us feel that idolizing and supporting their cheap stunts have monetary and material value. More of us feel that Manila is no longer a classy, honorable home but a warzone where every day is a struggle and every moment is a chance for survival.

Yes, Manila may be losing the Capital City title once the current regime pushed their proposed system. It may be sooner than we think and we cannot do anything because we have a dirty-old tyrant in the palace.

But is it too late for us to change Manila? Is it too late to break the curse for our dear city? It is for us as one community of Manileños to decide and act.

 

 

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