A Very Simple Guide to the People’s Struggles in Metro Manila Through the MRT-LRT Stations
by Mong Palatino
The housing district and former resettlement area was rezoned into a commercial center which displaced urban poor villages in San Roque and Agham Road. The local community is resisting the demolition. (photo from Bulatlat.com)
The Philippine Children Medical Center (PCMC) successfully opposed the planned modernization (read: eviction) of the hospital when the government refused to give it a land title. The health sector and children advocates joined forces to save the hospital by raising public awareness. PCMC finally acquired its land title last month.
The former Hacienda Araneta turned commercial center is also a major transport hub of jeepneys, PUVs, AUVs, buses – public vehicles yet privately owned. Metro Manila’s transportation system is dominated by the private sector (yes, the lowly padyaks and pedicabs are operated by enterprising individuals) because the state refuses to invest more on mass transport solutions.
People converged outside the gates of Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame in 1986 which forced the ouster of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Recently, public sympathy poured in over the deaths of 44 SAF members in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. The people continue to demand truth, accountability, and justice over the incident.
The site of the historic Edsa Dos (and Tres) in 2001. During the Gloria Arroyo years, Catholic Church leaders like Soc Villegas banned protests in Edsa Shrine which they describe as acts of desecration. The station is also near the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the government agency that facilitates the country’s labor export program.
The filth of Pasig River and billboard ads can be seen from the station. The river symbolizes pollution and waste in the city while the billboard ads of clothing brands are often criticized by moralists who frown upon the seductive images of models, and by activists who accuse capitalists of luring the masses to buy things they don’t need in life.
It’s near Forbes Park, a swamp turned ghetto of the rich, inhabited by the country’s 0.1% and tax avoidance practitioners. It’s also a gateway to BPO enclaves in Makati and Taguig, glorified modern sweatshops that made night work or rat racing during the graveyard shift the new normal among the youth.
The entry point to the former south industrial belt and South Luzon Expressway. The so-called industrial peace was achieved by criminalizing the right to strike and legalizing contractualization. The old and new Skyway uprooted the poor from their homes in favor of a toll-operated highway owned by favored cronies.
The proposed LRT extension to Bacoor will be financed by the riding public through the recent MRT-LRT fare hike, instead of being shouldered by private developers who bagged the contract. Proof that PPP is designed to benefit big business. In the next few years, Baclaran church will be surrounded by casino centers, luxury hotels, and retail outlets. What will happen to the small traders near the train station and shrine?
Manila Bay reclamation worsened the flooding in Pasay and other inland towns of Metro Manila. However, SM Mall of Asia is determined to extend its property by proposing to reclaim more coastal areas of the bay. But we need mangroves and the restoration of sea grass in Manila Bay and not another reclamation.
Another transport hub in the south side of Metro Manila, mostly provincial buses that connect the city to southern Luzon. Bus drivers and conductors are among the exploited sectors in society. The area is also covered by Tripa de Gallina creek, a waterway inhabited by urban poor villages. Demolition of these communities is ongoing.
Located near Philippine General Hospital, the country’s premier public tertiary hospital. The health budget is programmed to justify the privatization or commercialization of public hospitals. Health workers are underpaid forcing many to leave the country.
The new superbad is Torre de Manila, the photobomber of Rizal Monument in Luneta. But the original superbad in the vicinity is the U.S. embassy in Roxas Boulevard. Rallies are held here to oppose the nonstop meddling of the U.S. government in our domestic affairs. Another issue in Luneta is the eviction of small vendors in the park.
Manila City Hall imposed higher local taxes, hospital fees, and public transport permits. FACT: The incumbent mayor of the country’s premier city is a convicted plunderer.
There was a brief time during the Arroyo years when Avenida-Carriedo was closed to traffic. Insanity! Then and now, the center of informal economy. A flourishing market community, religious center, Chinatown, Escolta (the original commercial center), Quiapo, Plaza Miranda, herbal factory, street food lane, and DVD wholesale supplier.
Bagsakan of farm products, exit road to the North Luzon Expressway, and Katipunan bailiwick. Beware of double dead meat products. But the greater evil is the lack of protection/subsidy to small farmers who have to compete with cheaper agricultural products from other countries. The agricultural sector declined after the government opened the local markets to global competition without providing support to farmers.
Did Bongbong Marcos get his Oxford diploma somewhere in Recto? What about the fake medals of his father? The typewritten thesis capital of the famed university belt. Second hand textbooks, Tagalog romance novels, student meals, cheap dormitories, the surviving art deco buildings in Morayta, Internet gaming shops, and schools offering non-accredited programs.
Student center and cluster of profit-oriented universities. Expensive and top earning private schools. But quality education is not guaranteed; hence the need to enroll in review centers after graduation. Identified as high-risk community because of proximity to Malacanang presidential palace. Campuses are guarded like prison fortresses where student rights are often undermined. Near Mendiola, the country’s de facto freedom park. The so-called Mendiola Peace Arch serves as an anti-rally barrier.
State universities are underfunded and government wants to commercialize their assets. Basic education is a right but higher education is regarded by the state as a privilege. State schools must raise their own income, impose higher tuition, and scrap non-priority programs. No wonder students are protesting in public colleges. The station is also near Nagtahan, Paco, and the oil depot. This is Manila-style urban planning.
Gilmore and Betty Go Belmonte
Notorious in the past because of the Balete Drive ‘white lady’ urban legend. New Manila is the first subdivision in Metro Manila, home of the old rich. But rapidly changing in recent years. Gilmore is now the place where people buy computer supplies, Broadway hosts Eat Bulaga, and the Magnolia ice cream plant is now a mall.
Quezon City entrepreneurs are complaining against high local taxes, restrictive business registration procedures, and worsening city services. Politicians often talk about modern democracy but in Quezon City, old and new dynasties are slowly consolidating political power. Creepy!
Are they still digging for the Yamashita treasure in PSBA? Former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo once claimed that Ateneo-Miriam-UP Diliman was part of their former estate, Hacienda Tuason. The once sleepy district of Libis is now a business center. The station is near Marikina, a well-managed town but disaster-prone. Typhoon Ondoy alerted us that tree planting activities should prioritize the Marikina watershed.