We beg to differ.

From Paolo Alcazaren on Facebook: “The illustration shows a comparison between sidewalks (and the public realm) in a civilized city and the sidewalks as used (actually abused) in Metro Manila. In civilized cities the sidewalks are for people – pedestrians. Name the (ab)uses of sidewalks in mad Metro Manila? (there are more than five abuses)”

Thinking about how Baguio City was originally planned by Daniel Hudson Burnham and then considering how ugly it looks today has convinced me that although most Filipinos look like they no longer live in the jungle, they still pretty much behave as jungle dwellers.

Houses were pine trees used to be.

This is pretty much reflected in the way Baguio City or old Manila looks.

Manila and Baguio were designed and planned out beautifully.  Then, over the decades, it became jungle-fied — Filipino-style.  More recent examples of how beautiful or at least clean and orderly places are jungle-fied are Clark and to a certain extent, Subic after Dick Gordon was booted out by former President Estrada.

More pictures in

Here’s what you will see in most Philippine cities that will make you think you are in a jungle:

Instead of jungle vines, we have black spaghetti.  We have all sorts of animals running around everywhere — cats, dogs, rats, drug-addled street children, psychotic vagrants, diseased beggars, and whatever else.

We don’t have proper spaces to walk-on and if there are, they are pretty much like uneven, winding jungle trails.  This is partly so because house and building owners either encroach on sidewalks, or vendors take up space, or private as well as public utility vehicles park on them ,or utilities set up their posts/meters where people ought to be walking.

And, yes, our people behave like jungle dwellers.  You can see them pissing and shitting in the street.  Walking around half-naked in their underwear. Instead of living up in caves or trees, our people live on boxes on stilts over dirty rivers and streams.

Although, you won’t encounter jeeps and buses spewing black smoke in a jungle.  Perhaps that’s the only difference.

Oh yes! The jeep!

Tourism brochures from the Philippines will attempt to portray the jeepney as a cheerful and charmingly kitschy form of transportation.

But when you arrive in the Philippines and get out of NAIA Terminal 1, you will soon find out that most jeeps look like rolling trash-heaps.

In the context of SM Baguio and the rest of session road, I think people who had gotten accustomed to the random jungle-like mash of wires, grimy sooty bill-boards, and beat-up frontages actually got somewhat of a shock when they saw something new and clean looking.

I know, SM architecture still reminds most people of shoe-boxes.  But hey, the fact that a shoe-box looks better than the typical Manila or Baguio frontage says a lot about how ugly these things really look.

Paul Farol

Christian. Husband and father. Writer and Blogger. Amateur grass grower and fruit tree enthusiast. Car washer and polisher. Lusts after tools and gadgets at Handyman, Ace Hardware, and Japan Home Depot.

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  • Balbino says:

    I don’t think the “Pinoy masa” loves ugly and uncivilized surroundings. I think they just don’t realize (or don’t want to realize) that their lives can be better. But of course, that entails hard work and self-discipline, two traits a typical person in the slums has yet to learn.

  • Propinoy says:

    I dont think this is the masa’s fault, it’s the people who are in charge of public works and highways. You need a permit to put up signs for stores, yes? There should be safety among things suspended overhead. It’s not the masa’s fault. They are victims of the people behind making this happens, and they are the ones in government. Get real, Paul Farol. When a mayor in marikina apprehended the people to clean up the streets, they did. It’s not their fault, if’s the leadership.

  • me says:

    I have to say that it’s the leader who has to take the first step.

    In my class, we were having our notes checked, the student assigned to sign them didn’t give any instruction to line up so all the students were crowding around her chair. I got frustrated with all the pushing and shoving so I just sat down waiting for everyone to be done, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one frustrated.

    But when I got the chance to be the notebook checker, I required all my classmates (loud and clear) to line up their notebooks by piling it under the notebook before theirs, and they were happy to oblige.

    • Jse says:

      Filipinos are great at compromise when people are looking. When they are not they throw trash on the streets. Make racist comments, cheat and steal. Definitely uncivilized for the most part. Maybe 30 percent civilized while the rest still barbarians

  • Teniente Nicasio says:

    I agree with this article. We can go back to where part of our basic domestic sensibilities originate. You see a bahay kubo with a silong of chicken, pigs or domestic animals. Once the family meal is done, the pispis from your plate either goes thru the bamboo slats to the silong or out the batalan for the animals to feast on.

    • Teniente Nicasio says:

      What i mean is, walis nang walis malinis sa loob ng bahay, pero lahat ng marumi, tapon sa labas, kesehoda.

  • C Biron says:

    There is no respect for law and order in the Philippines because there is no enforcement of the laws. Simply look at how people behave as they drive. People break the laws because they know they will not be caught and if they are caught, can usually bribe there way out of it. I am glad to see that people are getting fed up and are finally expressing their outrage at the dysfunctional government. I have been told many times that getting angry is very impolite. Many feel it is easier to get used to a problem, rather than fixing it.

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