Tag archive for "Metro Manila"

15 ANNOYING THINGS ABOUT LIVING IN THE ISLANDS

Lifestyle

15 ANNOYING THINGS ABOUT LIVING IN THE ISLANDS

No Comments 02 September 2014

BY NIKI YARTE

No doubt there have been remarkable strides in our effort to catch up with the rest of the world, particularly in adopting modern technology and best practices of advanced countries to make life in the Philippines manageable, if not comfortable. CCTV cameras are sprouting in every street corner, motorists have become accepting of cyclists sharing the road, green technology is fast making inroads in homes and industries. But alas, we are lagging behind in many areas as some bad old habits have taken deep roots and simply refuse to fade away. There are just some characters and situations that drive many Filipinos up the wall and out of the country faster than the promise of earning greenback. We chose only 15 that easily came off our mind or we’ll take forever . . .

1. Ugly Oldies Need Not Apply

You are not likely to see this employer unless you meet his requirements: “Female with pleasing personality and good moral character, age 25 to 35”. Such discriminatory job vacancy announcement is so common that Filipinos have learned to accept it as the norm. In advanced countries, these requirements are a no-no; workers are not even required to divulge their age, religion, sexual orientation and marital status.

2. Divine Intercession

In blatant disregard for the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, religious groups such as the Iglesia Ni Cristo and El Shaddai compel their members to vote as one bloc and campaign for candidates that support their sectarian and political agenda. But don’t tell that to politicians who move heaven and earth to receive the “divine blessing” of the INC Supremo and Brother Mike every election time.

Bro. Mike Velarde, leader of El Shaddai, raises the hands of his anointed senatorial candidates in 2010.

Bro. Mike Velarde, leader of El Shaddai, raises the hands of his anointed senatorial candidates in 2010.

3. Knock on Wood

You’re lucky if you happen to get on the handful of jeepneys and buses that have buttons or levers installed on them that signal to the driver when to pull over, otherwise you’ll to project your voice and shout Para! or knock on the bus or jeepney ceiling to signal that you’re getting off. This would all be unnecessary if the country would just follow the rest of the world and implement proper loading and unloading zones.

4. In God We Trust

Whether one is a Muslim, Christian, or of another faith altogether or however one conceives God to be, it’s immaterial because the government is supposed to be neutral to any religious belief as mandated by the Constitution. But lo and behold, many government offices and public schools are adorned with Catholic symbols, primarily the cross and other religious icons. First Friday Masses are observed in some government offices, and Christian prayers are routinely conducted in public schools.

5. Slow Walk to Salvation

As if the horrendous traffic conditions in big cities aren’t bad enough, some groups and individuals make it a habit to turn our main streets into their private domain by holding religious rituals and funeral processions on main roads. Honoring the saints and the dead is fine but can’t people use the side streets so as to minimize chaos on major roads?

A religious procession on a busy thoroughfare, a common practice that is exempt from traffic ordinances.

A religious procession on a busy thoroughfare, a common practice that is exempt from traffic ordinances.

6. What Are We in Power For?

Whether you applied for a new passport or license for your business, any request from any government agency, chances are that the government employee who processed your documents would find some trivial and often subjective reason to needlessly prolong the process of your application, prompting you to come back or, worse, fork over grease money to facilitate the transaction.

7. Gusto ko happy ka!

That’s not the title of a sitcom, it’s actually a campaign slogan that helped propel an aspirant to the Senate! During elections, you will encounter candidates and parties with no clear-cut political distinctions. Candidates preach the same promises and pro-poor agenda while dishing out catchy slogans. Philippine politics and elections are not really be a contest of platforms and principles but a battle of personality, popularity, and political machinery (spelled money).

8. Kayo Ang Boss Namin!

Perhaps the sight of the Supreme Court rank and file holding vigils and prayer rallies for Chief Justice Renato Corona at the height of his impeachment trial left a sour taste in your mouth. After all, government employees were hired by the state, through a non-partisan process overseen by the Civil Service Commission, and not by the officials who would be appointed or elected to the office they work for.

Then Chief Justice Renato Corona addresses supporters, mostly Supreme Court employees, during a prayer rally in front of the SC building at the height of his impeachment trial.

Then Chief Justice Renato Corona addresses supporters, mostly Supreme Court employees, during a prayer rally in front of the SC building at the height of his impeachment trial.

9. Hello, How May We Help You?

You will encounter this character at the lobby of an office or at the sales counter of a store. The receptionist or clerk will answer a call even as he or she is in the middle of transacting business with a customer. The proper course of action would have been for the employee to mute or put the call on hold until he or she is done attending to the customer who took time to personally do business at the office or store.

10. Welcome to the Neighborhood

You might have noticed the unassuming office or the unmistakable warehouse on your way home. While this lax implementation of zoning laws allowed sari-sari stores and bakeries to be conveniently located in your neighborhood, it also sets dangerous precedents for small factories, repair shops and KTV night clubs to be set up in your area, or convert the narrow street into a parking lot for trucks.

11. Slow Men at Work

‘Slow’ is used here as an adjective, as in slow-moving men doing road repair on busy streets during the day when traffic congestion is at its peak. In other instances, the repair crew tears the road up and in the middle of their job they mysteriously disappear, making the potholes even bigger and deeper and snarling traffic.

Like regular office work, road repairs are done during the day and stops just before sunset.

Like regular office work, road repairs are done during the day and stops just before sunset.

12. By Appointment Only

At one point you probably found that your phone or electric bill was mysteriously jacked up. Or that you’re suffering from a dismal Internet connection. While these are frustrating enough by themselves, what’s even more infuriating is that instead of resolving anything via phone or email, you are directed to take time out of your busy schedule to visit your service provider’s offices.

13. Point of No Return

If you find yourself unhappy with a purchase beyond matters of factory defects, you will be hard-pressed to find a store that will refund your payment. They will only offer store credit, forcing you to choose between an item of equal or lower value, lest you pay the difference for a higher priced but significantly better product.

14. For Your Eyes Only

Turn to your right, there’s Angel Locsin teasing you in her skimpy bikini; look up and there’s John Lloyd Cruz staring at you, as if making a pass. Here, there and everywhere on Edsa and other main roads are gigantic billboards featuring celebrities hawking all sorts of merchandise and services – from cellphones and men’s briefs to sardines and liposuction. For heaven’s sake, isn’t the metropolis ugly and dangerous than it already is?

Giant billboards dot Edsa, defying regulation, posing risk to commuters and making the urban landscape even uglier than it already is.

Giant billboards dot Edsa, defying regulation, posing risk to commuters and making the urban landscape even uglier than it already is.

15. Ganito Kami Dito, Paano Kayo Dyan?

Tricycles are meant for short trips in the neighborhood; pets are supposed to be kept at home; vendors are allotted stalls in the market to hawk their wares. But alas, they are everywhere except in their proper places – tricycles racing on highways, stray dogs on every street corner, vendors taking over the sidewalks. Add clogged drainage, uncollected garbage, kotong cops, unresponsive officials . . . and you’ll have an idea of life back home.

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RAFT: REVIVING THE PASIG RIVER

Lifestyle

RAFT: REVIVING THE PASIG RIVER

No Comments 31 March 2014

By Nikki Boncan-Buensalido

AS I was driving through Edsa the other day, I was reminded of an idea that my design team came up with a couple of years ago.  It was an idea spurred by the kind of optimism that can help our development as a nation one step at a time. The idea had something to do with the Pasig River and its gentrification, and I share this in the hopes that this can become a spark, a catalyst for change, if you may.

Our source of inspiration is the Pasig River and how we can bring it back to life and how we can utilize it to help improve our nation through the process of urban regeneration. This call hopes to instill a community revival that can engage Filipinos to go a step further toward nation-building.

Concerned citizens have been calling on government for generations to rehabilitate this tragic body of water that was once became the inspiration for art and music, and served as the backdrop for romantic interludes. Corporate sponsors and non-governmental organizations have created and continue to create programs to help revive the river, but only a few concrete and tangible actions have been actually done. Will the time ever arrive when people can return to the banks of the Pasig River? I’m still hopeful that I get to see this come into fruition in my generation.

In many countries, the river plays a major role in capturing the identity and culture of a city and its immediate surroundings. Main arterial rivers, like the Pasig River, serve as the backbone of development. New cities emerge beside rivers as it is here where sustenance is acquired.

Putting that concept into the Philippine context tells a lot. The Pasig River was once the source of trade and commerce. It was once the spine of a young thriving city. It served as an escape route during times of war and calamity. However, in recent years the river has not been able to sustain life.

RAFT as mixed setting

RAFT as mixed setting

Studying the transportation and mobility structure of Metro Manila, we feel that there is a more significant way to reduce traffic than what the number coding scheme has been able to accomplish, and this leverages the Pasig River as an efficient alternative to getting around the metropolis. The Pasig River cuts across main parts of Metro Manila, and thus can act as an artery in itself. Our proposal for the river is to connect a series of multifunctional rafts and terminals. The Regenerative Amphibious Floating Terminals (RAFTs), as we call them, are floating devices spanning the entire stretch of the river. These can possibly be on land or on water with different functions.

RAFT terminals

RAFT terminals

RAFTs may differ in size, scale and color. They may be in an open plan from the inside, or they can have partitions as the need arises. Above each sky-lit RAFT is a roof garden or observation deck one can access. Individually, RAFTs may have various functions and programs. Some may be used as floating markets that are linked to the docks; others may be used as floating restaurants, cafés, retail stores or tiangges, bars or cruise pods; still others as function halls, gardens, refilling and maintenance stations, etc. They can even be used as transportation units for tourist or locals who would like to cruise along the Pasig River. RAFTs are flexible but have an inherent modularity so that they can all be linked together in the event that a larger space is required, or to form an instant connection between the two banks of the river.

RAFT park

RAFT park

Aside from their basic functions, in the event of a calamity these can be used as floaters designed to survive floods. The National Disaster Coordinating Council can use RAFTs for search-and-rescue operations.

Furthermore, during, say, a calamitous flooding (think Typhoon Ondoy), government agencies can use individual or combined pods as temporary shelters while waiting for the flood waters to subside.

At night the floaters project a different aura, transforming into giant lanterns glowing with different colors, transparencies and sizes spread through the expanse of the river, creating an ephemeral effect. The glow of these lanterns allows the Pasig River to thrive even at night. Inside, various activities can still take place. One can rent a RAFT for the duration of the activity. Receptions, parties, meetings and other events can be held in one or a cluster of these floaters. The regenerated river is envisioned to bring out a new sense of belonging and ownership to the locals.

Aerial RAFTs

Aerial RAFTs

Through this strategy, a new urban design language could emerge. The newly defined spaces could be conceived as a “structure” in itself, this network creating new interrelationships and mixes that could be interwoven and integrated in the resulting urban fabric.

This language could be the basis of the reactivation of the urban fabric in various levels. By weaving in new topologies into the existing fabric, existing topography will be reshaped and redefined. The specific points of interest mentioned earlier shall be reprogrammed to be reintroduced into an adaptable and appealing environment both for this generation and for the next to come.

These  will be layered and intertwined with one another to form new urban spaces and revive the mundane into a unique, exciting and interactive experience. Moreover, we envision all the spaces to appeal not just to the physical aspect, but to all the senses. These would be designed to allow the users to experience the space entirely. This will facilitate a more intense learning experience, as well. Also, allowing all the senses to be heightened will allow the person to identify and relate more to his or her surroundings.

Despite the failings of previous institutional efforts, we, Filipinos, can bring the Pasig River back to life by working with the river and not against it. We can empower one another and work together to create a new typology for the next generation to benefit from.

Illustrations courtesy of Buensalido Architects

 (Nikki Boncan- Buensalido is an Associate Architect of Buensalido Architects, a Manila-based architectural design laboratory solely committed to creating original, avant-garde, ‘Filipinnovative’, and progressive solutions, employing an experimental and process-oriented approach in their designs. A champion and advocate of Philippine Architecture, Nikki and her team take Filipino sensibilities and combines them with global mechanisms, ‘contemporizing’ it in the process. She graduated Magna Cum Laude at the University of Santo Tomas College of Architecture as well as the Architectural Association Global School. You may visit her at www.buensalidoarchitects.com or email her at design@buensalidoarchitects.com.)

 

 

 

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15 HERITAGE BUILDINGS IN MANILA THAT NEED TO BE RESCUED

Culture

15 HERITAGE BUILDINGS IN MANILA THAT NEED TO BE RESCUED

No Comments 12 February 2014

If these buildings could talk, they’d be like, “Rescue us!” We hear you, beautiful creatures. And, not to get your hopes up, but now that Luneta Hotel has been fixed and expected to reopen after decades of neglect, who knows, maybe the next restoration project could be you! READ FULL STORY

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A WALKING TOUR OF ESCOLTA

Culture

A WALKING TOUR OF ESCOLTA

No Comments 24 June 2013

From the early 1900s to the 1960s, Escolta was the country’s premier shopping mecca. With the emergence of the commercial and business districts of Makati and Quezon City, the prestige of Escolta gradually faded. READ FULL STORY

 

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10 REASONS WHY IT FLOODS IN MANILA

Current Affairs

10 REASONS WHY IT FLOODS IN MANILA

No Comments 18 June 2013

It’s raining season once again and we face the yearly problem of flooding in Metro Manila. I keep getting calls from broadcast media asking for interviews about the problem, its historical origins and urban redevelopment solutions. READ FULL STORY

                                                                                                              

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HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE NAIA?

Current Affairs

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE NAIA?

No Comments 07 June 2013

Just like its infamous traffic gridlock, Manila’s airport woes have defied solution for the longest time. But if our officials are to be believed, there is a glimmer of hope, at least on the airport scene. (Forget the monstrous traffic jams on EDSA, they’re beyond salvation.)

The Aquino administration is hell-bent on finding a long-term solution to Manila’s airport woes after numerous rehabilitation efforts at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have failed to uplift the gateway’s reputation as one of the world’s worst airports.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Emilio Abaya said the government is studying several options on whether to rebuild NAIA into a modern facility or move the international airport somewhere else.

In a speech before the Makati Business Club last April, Abaya said his department has submitted three proposals on the airport system to President Aquino and the Cabinet.

The first option, Abaya said, involves a single airport system. Under this proposal, the government will end operations at NAIA and sell the property, and develop the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

The second option is the twin airport system, where the government will develop Clark while maximizing operations at NAIA through 2025. At the same time, the government will look at an alternative site for a new airport, preferably 25 kilometers or 30 minutes away from the NAIA.

The third option is also a twin system, where the government will develop both Clark and NAIA, while considering an alternative airport.

“Previously, the direction was to move all NAIA’s current operations to Clark International Airport within the next five to seven years. What is clear now is that we need Clark to absorb some of the traffic in NAIA. Even if initially, it seems more cost-efficient to have a single main gateway, there are dual airport systems existing around the world that actually perform well commercially,” Abaya said.

While the Palace has yet to decide, Abaya said he could sense ample support in the Cabinet for the second option, wherein NAIA and Clark would be jointly developed while looking for a new site for an airport. Possible sites for the new airport include reclamation of Laguna de Bay or Manila Bay as well as the Sangley airport in Cavite.

The DOTC is still looking to increase the capacity of NAIA, but Abaya noted there is no available land to extend its runway or build a new terminal.

Since the planned move to Clark is not immediate, the government is spending P150 million to fix NAIA-1. Abaya said the ongoing improvement work at Terminal will be finished within the year, while the structural retrofit of Terminal 1 will continue through 2014.

Meanwhile, the expansion of Clark International Airport’s passenger terminal is expected to be completed by September, in time for the launch of new flights by a Middle East-based carrier, according to Victor Jose Luciano, president and chief executive officer at Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC).

“The existing terminal can only accommodate two million passengers annually, while the new passenger terminal expansion will further boost its capacity to 4 to 5 million passengers annually,” Luciano said in a statement.

CIAC expects passenger volume at the airport to reach two million this year, after registering 408,895 passengers in the first quarter alone.

The option of operating both Clark and NAIA involves a strategy that sends international air traffic to both airports, as well as feeder flights from or to domestic routes for passengers arriving from or departing for destinations abroad.

The most crucial ingredient in pursuing this dual airport plan, however, is a train system that connects them.

A “bullet train” project connecting Clark and Manila – covering a distance of 113 kilometers – has a long way to go in terms of project approval and bidding. It is being mulled as an alternative to the Northrail project that was mired in legal, financial and technical issues between the Philippines and China, the rail project’s funder.

The conglomerate Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC), led by Manny Pangilinan, is still keen on undertaking the government’s bullet train project between Manila and Clark, according to a company spokesperson.

However, the project seems a long shot since it remains in the early stages of project evaluation and has a long way to go before it reaches the bidding phase. Only when the government has decided on its airport will the rail project proceed.

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IS METRO MANILA PREPARED FOR THE BIG ONE?

Current Affairs

IS METRO MANILA PREPARED FOR THE BIG ONE?

No Comments 16 March 2011

About 34,000 people dead instantly and 24,000 dead or dying in the rubble. About 110,000 injured and needing immediate treatment. Five hundred fires raging simultaneously. Metro Manila faces these and several other horrific scenes should it be hit by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, says a report by a multinational intelligence firm. READ FULL STORY

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