Saturday, March 03, 2007


A senator who will be running for mayor of Manila vows, if elected (though he was once a mayor of Manila before he was a senator), that he plans to reopen Rizal Avenue — from Carriedo Street to Claro M. Recto Avenue — to vehicular traffic, which was turned into a pedestrian’s mall by Mayor Lito Atienza a couple of years ago.

The senator believes that in so doing, the gridlocks, especially in the Sta. Cruz area, will be alleviated. Moreover, he claims Rizal Avenue never really picked up as a retail haven as it once was (the rows of empty establishments remain closed) and that the entire strip is nothing more than a breeding ground for hookers and shady characters.

He may have a point there; however, during the holiday season, a tiangge (or flea market as they would call it in New York), was created right on the middle of the strip underneath the LRT rail tracks; it seemed just as successful as the midnight market at Greenhills’ parking lot last December. As for the hookers and shady characters, I only walk along this avenue during the daytime and thereby never see any scantily-clad ladies in fierce stilettos offering some comfort. But if this is really the main issue with the senator, he might want to give Manhattan’s Times Square a quick glance, especially when its Disneyfication started in full swing.

Although the city was able to rid the area of those seedy massage parlors and adult bookstores and peep shows along Eighth Avenue, the sex industry, in satisfying a lucrative demand, moved instead into the residential areas of Chelsea and Greenwich Village, as well as in the once quaint Flower District and the artsy Long Island City.

Hence, although the city now has a fabulous and glitzy Times Square to dazzle the millions of its annual visitors from all over the world, the residential areas, unfortunately, also now have to share their neighborhood with the sex trade, and there is absolutely nothing they can do about it. This industry, however vulgar and despicable for many, is protected by the US Constitution. It is for the same reason that no one was able to shutdown Hustler Magazine during the seventies.

The senator, if successful in his bid to become mayor once again of Manila, may be able to reopen Rizal Avenue to the jeepeneys, but I doubt if he’d be able to scare away the area prostitutes. And if he were truly intent to address the issue of prostitution, he may also want to extend his sight a couple of blocks away — into the university belt and take notice of the incredible amount of motels in the area. He might also want to open his eyes to this reality: that some coeds resort to part time prostitution to help defray their schooling expenses. However, before we start condemning these coeds of ours, let’s take a look at those cute Japanese high school girls who would do it with older businessmen for 200 hundred US dollars just to be able to buy those trendy clothing and electronic gadgets.

So what is the best solution to all of these? I have no idea. All I know is that the pedestrian’s mall of Rizal Avenue is the only place where I can walk without the threat of getting hit from behind by a jeepney or tricycle. And as for the prostitutes and shady characters, put it this way, they have them practically any where in this modern world.

posted by Señor Enrique at 8:11 AM


Blogger fionski said...

I think I like that portion of Rizal Ave. now than before. I feel it is "safer" to move from one area to another, say Quiapo church to Binondo, on foot. Well I don;t have a car so I use the LRT a lot, I cant exactly relate to the traffic problems in the area now. Hehehe.

March 03, 2007 10:59 AM  

Anonymous Sonnie said...

Am from Manila too, Atienza has done better things done Manila. If Lim will just undo what was already accomplished and improved, then I'll look for alternative candidate

March 03, 2007 12:50 PM  

Anonymous Sidney said...

Are you talking about Lim?

I wouldn’t be surprised since he started a personal crusade against prostitution already long time ago when he was the mayor of Manila in the 1990’s. I don’t think there is any relationship between pedestrian roads and prostitution.
Like Fionski I like the Rizal Ave not for the supposed hookers walking there at night but because I can walk there safely!

March 03, 2007 1:14 PM  

Blogger dave (",) said...

I guess that's Sen. Lim, you're talking about. Of course he's not known for urban planning, but more on peace and order and a clean reputation. His Dirty Harry tactics sure were effective during his time (protests from Human Rights "activists" notwithstanding). I think the Manileños should decide whether the city's corruption or peace and order situation would need Lim's expertise once again, or if there are other more pressing concerns that would demand another, more fitting public servant.

March 03, 2007 5:56 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Fionski! If ever they open that part of Rizal Avenue back to vehicular traffic, I think I'll cry. I, too, use that area to traverse in and out of the very same areas you mentioned; without it, I'd be forced to walking on the streets (because the sidewalks if they do exist belong to the vendors more than to the pedestrians).

March 03, 2007 6:27 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I agree with you Sonnie! Let the good remain and work on improving the bad -- this should be any incoming leader's main purpose.

March 03, 2007 6:29 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I feel the same about the new Rizal Avenue, Sidney. And this is why I feel somewhat threatened of Lim's idea to convert it back to vehicular traffic. Like you, I feel safe walking through Avenida.

A number of people had teased me about the hookers there, but I never walked around that neighborhood beyond six in the evening so I never encountered any hookers.

March 03, 2007 6:32 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Know what Dave? If Senator Lim truly wanted to ease the traffic congestion in that area, he ought to support the MMDA's efforts to shutdown all those street vendors that block half our sidewalks and roads. Just go through Raon and Evangelista Streets and you'd see what I mean.

March 03, 2007 6:37 PM  

Blogger Kyels said...

It is hard to find solutions for these things. Sometimes it will appear to subjective and albeit there are plans to make things work, somehow it could go the other way as well ... All one can do is to hope for the best!


March 03, 2007 6:49 PM  

Blogger eye said...

Rizal Avenue is A-OK as it is now. It's a lot safer to roam around the area, esp. when I'm carrying some cash and buying something @ Hidalgo hehe! The same is true w/ Roxas Blvd, imagine all the positive changes that has transpired here.

Lim is one of those officials who believes that the end justifies the means. I hope he doesn't touch every good thing that Atienza has done to Manila.

Prostitution is everywhere. After all, it's the oldest job in the world. If Lim wants to deal with it, I think it's better to start with Malate.

March 03, 2007 11:53 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I agree with you, Kyels! And I'd like to add that what positive changes were created by the previous administration ought to be continued and the new administration should seek out other things to improve on.

March 04, 2007 6:01 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Like you, Eye, I enjoy walking along Rizal Avenue whenever I go to Hidalgo Street. I can't stand the almost non-existent sidewalk along Quezon Boulevard. You can hardly walk on it due to the excessive numbers of vendors that have taken control.

March 04, 2007 6:03 PM  

Blogger Noypetes said...

I've never walked the new Rizal Ave. But the idea of closing Rizal Ave. to vehicle traffic is to open a venue for the sidewalk vendors sort of like a Tiangge atmosphere isn't it?
I think Manila should have more of these Tiangges. Oh I bet the sex trade "protection mafia" will be pretty upset with this ex-seantor mayor candidate Short time motels at the University belt? They just move the business closer to the consumer since Pasig was developed into a mostly residential area ha!

Ps: Try converting your window photo into B/W

March 04, 2007 11:24 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

The tiangge right on the middle of Rizal Avenue was only created during the holiday season, Noypetes. It seemd successful, but I much prefer the avenie as it is -- mainly as a walkway for pedestrians. There's enough tiangge right on the streets of Quiapo :)

Will try to see how this pic converts to black & white, but my original intention was to create a Magritte-style surrealistic image.

March 05, 2007 6:06 AM  

Blogger Mila Tan said...

When Lim was Mayor, his so-called cleaning up tactics didn't do much long term good. He closed down the bars in Ermita, so where did the girls go? Quezon City and Makati. And now, the k-ok bars in Malate are back in full force, so he should get off his high horse and face the facts. Instead of re-opening the street, encourage more people to use the MRT. Provide tax benefits for people who use public transportation, invest in it and improve the sanitation around the stations so people will use it and not want to take the jeeps. Rizal avenue is probably the only urban planning event of Atienza that I agree with since it pushes people to be pedestrians again in a safe place. I wish he'd stop the awful lighting projects and fountains though.

March 05, 2007 10:26 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

When I came back to Manila, Atienza was already installed as the city's mayor and his "Buhayin ang Maynila" program already in full swing, Mila, so I never got a chance to know anything about Lim as city administrator.

Many valid ppoints you raised. Right you are about the street lghts, too -- more decorative than utilitarian; not enough illumination.

March 05, 2007 2:36 PM  

Blogger Cyberpunk said...

i dunno about you guys but i liked rizal ave before...i felt safer commuting esp at, traffic is heavy during the day and at night it's scary to pass by that area because the jeeps go through narrow streets that house business night, those streets are dark and abandoned...

March 11, 2007 9:30 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, Cyberpunk. I do believe that the narrow side trips used by the jeepneys now are highly commercial zones and therefore padlocked at night; the only activities occur in the daytime.

Yes, please be judicious in travelling the area at night.

March 11, 2007 9:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me share with you guys some of my thoughts on illegal vendors. You would see rampant illegal vendors eating up the sidewalks and worse sometimes the street itself in the the areas of the metropolis namely Alabang, Manila, Pasay, Paranaque, San Juan, some parts of QC. Caloocan and Yes even Makati.

From the little research i have done, i learned that those illegal vendors have protectors, usually they are the barangay captains of the area or the policemen. Each vendor pays "rent or protection Money" to those Barangay officials and Policemen protectors. About 200 to 500 pesos a day depending on what they are selling. So imagine, if there are 500 illegal vendors in the area how much is the Barangay Captain or policeman receiving? A minimum of 100,000 thousand to a maximum of 250,000 pesos a day!! Big money huh? Well, not all that huge money goes to one person, they share it proportionately to their rank and file. A portion goes to the Tanods, the lower rank policemen etc etc.

In the area of Divisoria alone, my guess is that there are at least 1000 illegal vendors occupying the sidewalks and streets. Do your computation on how much money the national and local government is losing since all of them do not pay their taxes. Worse, the legal establishments that pay their taxes are ones affected with these illegal vendors/hawkers. Since the illegal vendors occupy and most of the time BLOCK the entrance and show windows of the legitimate stores. People now tend to buy from the illegal vendors since they can hardly see the legitimate store that has been blocked from the view of the street.

Pasay is another area, you know the area of TAFT avenue between Vito Cruz and Edsa? There is a market in that area and trust me you wouldn't want to be caught in that area anytime of the day. The market vendors have already placed their stalls on the streets blocking one lane of Taft avenue on each direction. Taft avenue on the pasay side only has 4 lanes total and in some areas 2 for both directions. And these vendors have illegally taken over 1 lane from public traffic use and used it as their "puesto". When i interviewed them, they said that they each pay the barangay officials 400 a day to get that prime spot!

Can someone file cases against these Barangay officials?

Another observation i have is that barangay halls have sprouted everywhere and majority of these halls have illegally blocked and occupied sidewalks. Why is this happening? Isn't it that sidewalks are supposed to be for pedestrians and not structures? You can see a lot of these illegal structures in the cities of PASAY, MANILA and Quezon City. Whoever issued these building permits know that a public street/sidewalk is beyond the commerce of man and can never be alienated/leased and worse build a permanent structure on it.

Anyways, going back to Rizal Avenue, As we can all see, The incumbent Mayor has done a good job in reviving this area. Prostitutes are better neighbors than addicts and rugby boys that used to sleep here 10 years ago.

Don't get me wrong here, the former Mayor turned Senator is also good but he needs a little learning on the business aspect. He kept on shutting down business in Manila when he was mayor claiming that the place was prostitutes, drugs. So what happened? less and less people put up business because there were less people going in the area. Then stores became empty and the snowball effect happened. Establishments shut down.

What i'm trying to point out here is that prostitution is part of success of the area. When there are prostitutes it means that there is money in the area. Even that plush Mall along Makati Avenue in Makati is filled with prostitutes, they just dress up in a more upscale fashion so you hardly notice them. Also, these malls have P.R. people that block out all the news form TV and newspapers that happen in their malls including kidnapping and yes at times holdup and rape that’s why you don’t hear about it in the news. That’s why you “feel” safe inside those malls, you don’t know the truth.

The area of Manila Peninsula, Paseo De Roxas in Makati are also filled with prostitutes at night. Quezon Avenue also has the same problem.

So what is wrong with prostitutes? If you are a moral upright person, you know you can’t fix this problem by removing them. A former mayor of Manila in the times of our grate grandfathers did this, the shipped the prostitutes to Davao. What happened? He lost the next election because business went bad in the area.

Again going back to RIZAL Avenue, if mayor Lim really wanted to alleviate the traffic problem in the Sta Cruz area. REMOVE THE ILLEGAL VENDORS on the streets, he will help the legitimate businesses and alleviate traffic because the road will be returned to the use of the Vehicles that pay their share of road users TAX.

So whoever the next officials of the Metropolis are, please do your jobs wisely or better yet just do your jobs.

March 23, 2007 1:05 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Very well said, Anonymous!

Thank you for sharing with us your views on this matter. You speak of the truth!



March 23, 2007 6:53 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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