A Vision for Manila
A year ago, I saw a video of a plan to redesign Manila. I was delighted to see that video, frankly, to the point of daydreaming about Manila more than the usual. But I can’t help it — the video made visualizing a vibrant Manila easier. It showed the different parts of the Metro slowly unveiling its new design.
Yet as with all good ideas, not all come into fruition.
I don’t know what happened or if the movement still exists. I never saw any updates. All that’s left is the introductory video that makes dreams closer to reality.
And my version of that dream continues to exist.
Ever had that feeling of wanting to change how things are organized? I do. But the thirst doesn’t start and end in organizing the table top or the living room. It goes beyond the walls of establishments — because I like to organize bigger things like interest and cause-oriented groups, companies, even cities. I want to blame Sim City and hours of playing on my neighbor’s Game Boy Color Advance when I was a kid, but maybe this really is my passion — seeking out wrung, worn, barely working things that can be fixed.
Now, working in Manila, I can’t help but think of seeing Manila differently.
Manila has that effect — making others realize of its beauty in the morning, and destroying that image in the afternoon. Manila’s landscape is structured to let you fall in love at different times of the day, only to hate it some other time. And walking on her streets and being aware gives my the burden of wanting to change that.
Walking on the streets of Manila for five years have made me realize the potential of this old city. Coming in and going out of this concrete jungle made a connection of concern from my heart to every nook and cranny of this city.
But since reality is more complicated than a Sim City game, we can only pause and bask on the dreams that we have for our capital city. Manila is too fragile a city to be changed that easily.
It will be subjected to the families vying for its influence, potential, and purse. It will be subjected to thousands of businesses trying either trying to survive or trying to cap an already successful run. Every person demands to get the attention of this city for its own — the populace has become so self-centered that the cries of the city are swallowed by the noise.
Yet hope will always be there.
We can start with a smaller goal — a cleaner Manila. And it does not end with in the streets. Up above, we can clear the wires and put them underground too, providing more breathing space and freeing up the sidewalk from too many posts.
We long for a Manila free from clutter. It is a Manila that doesn’t need to have too much of posters from hundreds of businesses throughout the city. A single board bearing the business name would suffice. Not that I envision a Manila that is bland, but we all know that we can do away with that immense amount of data as we walk on her streets.
Think about it — a Manila with less tarpaulins in it.
The progress for Manila is a progress for the whole Metro.
A developed Manila is a perfect mix of culture, arts, business, and parks. It is a perfect blend of commercial and residential spaces. It is a mutual agreement with the government and the commercial units, even more, it is a partnership of ideas for self and public.
It is a gateway for the dreams of every Filipino. It is not imposing of the dreams that one should have, unlike the towering buildings of the business districts of Mandaluyong, Makati, and Taguig. It does not openly say to be a cog of a bigger machine — Manila, like an old, wise companion, lets you choose and chase the paths you want to follow.
Manila has its own soul — it does not need to follow its neighbors.
We all need a Manila that puts importance on the human experience. From the government agencies that lie within its walls, to the small businesses just around the corner, experiencing Manila should be memorable. Of course, this experience is the good kind of service. Being on its streets and alleyways, people will love to walk more to see more and feel more.
And some parts of Metro have done it. Little by little, streets filled with concept stores make Maginhawa and Sikatuna Village of Quezon City a place to talk about. Who says we can’t see that in Maria Orosa, Bocobo, Remedios, Dapitan, and Recto?
Manila is that kind of city — it can veer away from the typical kind of cities that spring up new skyscrapers every year. It can live with small and medium-sized buildings that free up the sky above, mirroring the dreams free from the concepts of height and space. Manila should live up to the ideals of the Filipino, persistent about its dreams yet ever-humble to its aspirations.
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