Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The MMDA continues with its MetroGwapo project, this time on the structures on Recto Avenue and those from the northwest corner of Quezon Boulevard.

By stripping off the banners and tarpaulins that used to hang in front of the buildings, including repainting their facades, the sidewalks have become much brighter and cleaner. The vendors that used to block pedestrian traffic also seemed to have disappeared, but for how long is any body's guess.

The MMDA MetroGwapo personnel also tried to level the sidewalk pavements for the safety of pedestrians. Most of Manila's sidewalks are so perilously uneven that I had seen some elderly folks and small children trip and fall from pieces of concrete that jut out from pedestrian lanes.

However, the MMDA and its chairman, Bayani Fernando, are not without their critics. Some politicians (members of the opposition of the current administration), had questioned Fernando's handling of the MMDA's flood control funds. There were insinuations that the money used for these MMDA prettification projects were lifted from the funds strictly allocated for the clean-up programs to eliminate the flooding of Manila streets.

Nevertheless, I am one of those who appreciate the efforts of the MMDA despite the on-going criticisms and oppositions it receives from various Metro Manila administrators. And although I am not well-versed with our political landscape, all I know is that Bayani Fernando, as mayor, had turned Marikina into a first class city -- much to the great delight of its residents and merchants.

* * *

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posted by Señor Enrique at 12:40 PM


Blogger Sidney said...

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) deplored the violent evictions being enforced by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) against informal settlers and sidewalk vendors.

CHR Chairwoman Leila de Lima said forced evictions and destruction ofgoods being sold by informal settlers and sidewalk vendors are also human rights violations.

De Lima also said carting away the vendors goods may be tantamount to robbery.

Even if some street vendors are stubborn, the MMDA shouldn't use BRUTE and thuggish force against them.

August 13, 2008 5:17 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

neat! most of the time, Bayani Fernando makes good decisions, but there are times when people hate him for his traffic schemes.

yes, it's high time for the prettification of Recto. i never saw it clean, or at least neat the many times that i passed the place.

August 13, 2008 5:22 PM  

Blogger JayAshKal said...

Kudos to Mr Bayani Fernando for beautifying Metro Manila. I think that is one of our major problems: we look so poor and derelict, we think we are!

But as you have shown, we have a glorious past and fascinating history. If only we can be as "pristine" as most old world European cities. I guess we will be more proud of what we have and tend to be rewarded financially.


August 13, 2008 7:01 PM  

Blogger mgaputonimimi said...

gusto ko talaga ang pinky pink colors nya...

nakakatuwa ang projects nya, kahit papano masasabi nating umuusad ang Pilipinas ng paonte onte..

August 13, 2008 7:42 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Sidney,

I think the best way to address or explore the issue you've raised is for us to join a couple of MMDA's vendor clean-up operations, document them with our cameras and video (so as to record sound) and then study what makes these MMDA personnel turn into brutes and thugs as you have perceived them to be.

August 13, 2008 7:55 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I think Bayani Fernando is running neck and neck with Makati administrators when it comes to devising confusing traffic schemes, Sexy Mom ... hehehe!

August 13, 2008 7:59 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"... we look so poor and derelict, we think we are!"

Lol! So true, Mario :)

Manila may never become as pristine and preserved as many European cities, but we shouldn't stop trying, either.

By the way, an expat friend visiting from Singapore said that even though Singapore appears so squeeky clean and modern, it has no soul as we have with our Quiapo, Binondo, Santa Cruz, Tondo, and etc. ... :)


August 13, 2008 8:05 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bayani Fernando has really made a good job in reviving Metro Manila. He deserves a pat on the back... :)

High Five to you.

August 13, 2008 9:07 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Pink supposedly has soothing effect, Mimi, and we can certainly use something, anything to relieve the stress of Manila living ... hehehe.

Yes, Fernando's projects strive to make Metro Manila look better and the people feel better.

August 13, 2008 9:42 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I agree, El Cineasta ... he deserves some compliments, especially when he has to contend with the various city administrators of Metro Manila. Not an easy task!

August 13, 2008 9:44 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

I witnessed one of their clearing operations. Alas, I didn't document it. I was shocked by the way the MMDA cleared the sidewalks.

Street vendors are humans too and I don’t like when people are driven away like ANIMALS. Most of those vendors have families and children to feed. I agree sidewalks are for pedestrians. But give those people alternatives. For instance make some streets traffic/car free where they can sell their wares.
Do we want all those people to be driven into despair and into criminality?

And can’t we ask from our politicians to beautify our city in a responsible way. I don’t have anything against a bit of pink in the city but it is starting to be ridiculous… if Bayani Fernando was mayor of Paris I am sure he would paint the Eiffel Tower in pink ! ;-)

Nobody "owns" the city. Imagine that every mayor would start to paint "his" city in his/her favorite color.

August 13, 2008 9:45 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Why don't we ship all these poor and downtrodden people of Manila to Belgium, Sidney. There's plenty of parks and plazas over there where they can sell those fake goods from China ... hehehe!

But seriously, city ordinances are created to maintain peace and order, and just because one is poor he/she is not entitled to instant immunity. Moreover, No one is driven into despair and criminality unless, of course, that person has already nurtured such thoughts.

Again, I believe in the adage,"Circumstances don't make a man, they reveal him."

Again, best thing is to join and document these vendor clean up operations.

August 13, 2008 10:22 PM  

Blogger reyd said...

Can Bayani do all his plans to beautify MM without leaving his famous signature or trademark? I got to hand it to him for doing something that others can not do. Pero ilagay naman sa ayos. Kung tatapalan niya ng letrato niya at mga posters to remind people, then those would become eyesores in the near future. Those old building along Recto can be restored to its almost original state with careful planning and funding and without marks by anyone who would have done the revival.
We have a major street here where it used to be the haven of prostitutes, drug dealers and criminals but the city council proposed a major facelift and funded the restoration of some dilapidated bldgs. They pass an ordinance that the new business tenants would abide with the city law to keep clean their area. ANd it was successful, major franchise stores started to sprout and new condominiums are being built right now.(although it doesn't look good to have those modern rise to be near a 50-60 style bldg.) :D
And back to Bayani's Metro Gwapo, I'm sure a lot of people would accept his plans since sanay na tayo sa mga cosmetic repairs or temporary solutions. I heard his other famous project was that elevated U-Turn in EDSA... :lol:
I told some forumers, ang U-Turn ay para sa mga drivers na naliligaw...mas mainam pa kung cloverleaf design yung ginawa sa EDSA... hahaha... buti hindi ako binato ng kamatis... :D

August 14, 2008 3:05 AM  

Blogger mitch said...

it would be nice to walk in the streets of avenida when it would be free of sidewalk vendors. i guess it would be a bit safer too i hope :D

i guess i would not be used to new places in manila after just 2 years living in france :D

August 14, 2008 4:21 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Culture shock to the core, Mitch ... hehehe.

But for those who happen to love Manila like I do despite its flaws, seeing the bottle half full, as they say, is recommended; otherwise, there is always America and Europe.

Nonetheless, in my travels, I am yet to find utopia ... hehehe.

August 14, 2008 7:38 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Technically speaking, Reyd, Edsa is a mere 20-minute drive from end to end on average speed, that is; not NASCAR standard. This should illustrate just how small Metro Manila is. But due to the sheer volume of vehicles, especially with the onslaught of those imported used cars from Japan, that ply on our streets, Edsa becomes congested, and so do most of Manila streets during the daytime. And to ease the congestion, certain crossroads had been blocked or made turning left illegal; thus one must make a u-turn at some point down the road; otherwise one would end up all the way down in Laguna instead of just somewhere in Makati.

Anyway my point here, is to showcase the good that is going on in Manila however temporary they may appear to be.

Enjoy your day in beautiful America, Reyd!

August 14, 2008 7:42 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

pink is soothing indeed. reminds me of the colors used in the carribean islands.

manila is one of the worst cities for pedestrians because of the lack of sidewalks and the ubiquitous vendors in the few sidewalks that we have. i'm glad to know that finally someone is succeeding in terms of having pedestrian-friendly sidewalks. the vendors should never have been allowed to occupy those sidewalks in the first place. i could imagine that force is inevitable when they're asked to vacate the sidewalks. in new york, i have witnessed cops confiscating their wares during raids and hauling them off to jail.

August 14, 2008 8:50 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That is so true, Gemma, especially on Broadway below Houston. Both sides can be congested not by pedestrians but sidewalk vendors!

And those men in blue have no time for plea bargaining. I've seen them simply throw everything on a truck; not caring if the merchandise gets mixed up with those of others' -- their intention has always been to simply clear the area where the vendors are not supposed to be.

And I don't see any people from any human rights organizations staging picket lines over at city hall to fight for the illegal vendors; neither did I see Rev. Sharpton crying 'racial prejudice' even if most of the vendors in NYC are from Africa and various Asian countries.

I see nothing wrong with pink ... hehehe. It is actually soothing.

August 14, 2008 9:16 AM  

Blogger reyd said...

Senor Enrique said...
( And to ease the congestion, certain crossroads had been blocked or made turning left illegal; thus one must make a u-turn at some point down the road; otherwise one would end up all the way down in Laguna instead of just somewhere in Makati.)

Yeah, I understand that simple solution of U-Turn, meron din niyan sa Bangkok, to me it is just a simple double left turn if the drivers and the traffic enforcers would really do what they have to do, those crossings with signal lights would just work fine.
Anyways, time will tell if the congestion along Edsa would really ease up and those elevated u-turns have done their jobs.
And on the Pink choice of colors for some buildings, why not use different pastel colors like what they did in San Francisco area.
They are more soothing to the eyes than a lone pink color. Tingin ko nga sa ibang posters ni Bayani eh, shocking Pink pa yung kulay. :D

August 14, 2008 10:00 AM  

Blogger FilMasons NSW said...

I agree with the sentiments of Sidney. Vendors are humans too, I am sure we can enforce our laws and ordinances as humanly as possible as well. As pointed out these illegal vendors are human as well.

In the same vein, pedestrians and the greater public have rights too. Not to mention retailers who are paying taxes.

Sidney is correct in proposing a market of sorts to regulate these vendors. I am sure you will all agree that the buying public should also be protected from shonky operators and faulty goods. We are hard working people as well forking our hard-earned monies.

I am sure that no one would like to find their front house gate as a veritable market!

Mario Jr

August 14, 2008 10:27 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I don't agree with Sidney at all, Mario.

At the risk of my getting perceived as anti poor, I just want to point out the following:

1) I had attended a barangay meeting not in my neighborhood but on Palanca Street in the heart of Quiapo, in which the barangay officials were expressing their exasperation over the recalcitrant street vendors who keep refusing to conform with the rules and regulations they had established to maintain a safe and pleasant environment for both vendors and pedestrians.

The barangay office, according to these officials, keeps receiving complaints from both residents and visitors to the area about the way the vendors hog the sidewalks especially on rainy days.

2) The MMDA issues advanced notices and allow certain provisions for illegal vendors to move out of certain areas that hinder both pedestrian and vehicular traffic -- the violence that Sidney may have witnessed was most probably precipitated by the vendors' refusal to vacate the areas on the final date when the MMDA planned on clearing the area.

3) The main road along Blumentritt public market has been cleared many times by both the MMDA and city hall officials to provide clear passage for jeepneys that ply the Blumentritt-Retiro/Munoz routes. Yet, the vendors return in the evenings. Once a jeepney driver was unable to manage a narrow space for his jeepney to crawl through, he hit a vendors bilao of kamatis. Before you knew it, several other vendors mobbed the driver and left him bleeding with head injuries from various sticks and heavy objects mashed into his head and face by the irate street vendors.

4) Mayor Atienza, to appease the Muslim community, allocated the entire stretch of Carriedo for them to build their permanent stalls. What happened? No one -- even the customers could pleasantly navigate whatever space was left to walk on. There were also constant reports of pickpocketing. Mayor Lim eventually reopened the street for vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

4) I, too, once couldn't pass through a street in Quiapo because the vendors had occupied the entire street. Had it not been for my press card dangling on my windshield, they probably would have lynched me as well when I hit one of the carts as my car crawled its way out of that street.

I can go on and on ...

Of course, street vendors are humans, too. I had, in fact, become friendly with some and I had volunteered to be a tutor for a couple of their kids in both written and spoken English.

But I have been greatly inconvenienced by the overwhelming number of street vendors that occupy our sidewalks -- practically on a daily basis.

Yes they are humans, too, but they, like most everybody else, must respect law and order; otherwise there would be nothing but chaos left in Manila.

Perhaps, Sidney was focusing on the negative aspects that occurred while the authorities were implementing law and order in Manila. I had seen similar treatments by the police against the street vendors in New York City!

And no one from a human rights organization started a picket line over at city hall to protest on behalf of the illegal vendors; neither did I see Rev. Al Sharpton accusing the city hall officials and policemen of 'racial prejudice' even if most of the vendors in NYC were immigrants or illegal aliens from Africa and various Asian countries.

The NYC street vendors were just as stubborn as our local vendors!

Anyway, some may not like it, but I will keep pointing out and celebrating whatever good I see in Manila.

And that's that! Hehehe!

August 14, 2008 11:23 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

this is an interesting post on human nature, Eric! Where we are, the loggers are naman posted small billboards of warning them to stop or they will be apprehended. They, predictably, would just tear it down and go on with their business. They're poor kasi so we should understand them, di ba? So, if the time comes when the law would get them, kawawa naman sila. meanwhile, a lot of other people will be inconvenienced with flash floods below.

I'm still waiting for the greening of Manila :-) and for the citizens to maintain them...not just leave it to government to do everything. The trouble with people is that they often think that they should be served hand and foot by the local govenments porke they say taxes, taxes paid. We should also do our share naman!

August 14, 2008 2:51 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

The traffic dilemma in Manila, I'm afraid, Reyd, will never get resolved until the government somehow curtails the number of vehicles that can be owned and driven by the people -- as in Singapore.

August 15, 2008 7:03 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Excellent point, Bernadette, you've raised about illegal logging!

People may have already forgotten the tragedy in Ormoc when flash flooding killed many people and caused millions of pesos worth of property damages.

And now, sadly, many poor people engage in illegal logging all over the country, and no one better stop them lest they be accused of being anti-poor ... jeeez! Such twisted mentality.

As for Manila naman, someone tries to do something positive, but before you know it, you get this bunch of critics screaming this and that ... mainly to make themselves look even better than the one trying to make a difference. Daming epal na mga wala namang mga 'K' ... hehehe.

August 15, 2008 7:16 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senor! totally agree w/ your view regarding illegal vendors.You see the problem w/ Manila is there is no semblance of rule at all anymore or zoning to put in in context.Mind you,I am a working class man,I do sweat to earn a living and as much as supporting illegal vendors in their desire to earn a decent living,we should do it properly or else anarchy rules.So I don't support them when they think they are above the law because they are poor.Same goes to the rich who cheat their taxes but that's another story...Solution will be, providing an unused street to them,but then again there should be "control."


August 18, 2008 5:42 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi IndioBravo,

I should point out that a study was once made of a group of rats placed in a tiny cage, and eventually, the crowded environment incited them to kill one another.

I think crowded streets and sidewalks exacerbated by the overwhelming presence of vendors streets are factors that could stress out city folks. No wonder many Manila folks appear on edge at times.

Yes, no one -- rich or poor -- should ever be exempted from adhering to our basic tenets of law and order.

August 18, 2008 8:01 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

There are too many people, and too few human beings.
Robert Zend

August 18, 2008 9:48 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey eric! thanks for these pics. i'm all for the beautification of manila, but can't the MMDA think of a better color scheme than pink and blue? ;-)

August 19, 2008 10:18 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks for the URL, Sidney!

August 19, 2008 11:51 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Lol ... unfortunately, Caryn, the MMDA dos not keep an artist or two in its staff :)

August 19, 2008 11:53 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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