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Editorial Locale Metro Manila

The Power of the Filipino Rich

Taxes were meant to divert income towards building infrastructure to make living in the country easier and more efficient. These structures come in forms of roads, bridges, flyovers, walkways, among many other things that are meant to serve everybody.

What if there was a way to make things work in your favor instead? All you need is power and money, lots of it. Read on. 

The MRT

photo: Hans Lim

The initial proposition of the MRT was to build an underground railway so as not to impede traffic along EDSA. This proposal was scrapped because it was “too expensive” for the government to tackle the engineering feat at that time to be considering a project meant to last a lifetime and a century. Hence, they concluded it would be more cost efficient to erect the Metro Rail Transit above ground.

If you were to notice, however, that this supposed straight line from Taft to North EDSA dips every so often along different parts of the metro especially with ones concerning Ayala and Buendia. The reason for this is that homeowners within the villages raised privacy concerns. That was it, these people lobbied to make sure the view from their homes would not be sullied by trains, packed to the brim, running across their view of the Makati skyline.

The rich literally paid off the cost of placing the train line underground. Only because it did not and still does not concern them about having a mass public transport available for everybody else. Only because the value of their homes would plummet after every government project placed across their views. 

How money talks in the Philippines

The underground walkway was designed to keep pedestrians safe and off the roads especially during rush hour. This was the aim and goal of Makati when they considered the project of a safe and efficient underground path for those walking in, around, and out of Ayala Avenue.

Why then is Manila Peninsula the only corner that does not have access to this underground walkway?

Because it defiled the aesthetics of the hotel. Just imagine an ugly protrusion intercepting your line of sight to the glorious water fountain that cascades towards a tiny pool. Ugly, right?

What of the pedestrians? Easy, make them go around the bend into a pedestrian lane in the middle of traffic without an aide and without a traffic light to ensure safety of the common working Filipino.

Express lane to comfort

In most other countries the government would place infrastructures that allow visitors to be able to get around quickly and efficiently, all over the metro and neighboring cities, as a means to be able to showcase different aspects of their cultural heritage. This is usually done via a system of trains that cater to multiple interest points straight from the airport. 

Here in the Philippines, however, the government thought it best to make it easier and more accessible only for the rich and the car-enabled; Grab car included. 

Instead of a series of buses that can transport new arrivals to and from multiple points in the metro, they opened their doors to one bus line that charges Php 300 to get you from NAIA Terminal 3 to Mall of Asia. A typical cab ride costs Php 160.

Instead of planning for the future and connecting the airports towards the MRT or LRT, they opted for a very very short Skyway connector for Php 45 per entry. Which zips you directly towards your choice of either Okada, Solaire, City of Dreams, or options of those still being built. How convenient for everyone else.

Barely there sidewalks

Aside from the shining example that is Makati, Ortigas, and BGC, most other cities barely have bike lanes let alone sidewalks. What’s worse is those same “sidewalks” have electric poles, trees, streetlights, signs, posts, and just about almost any obstacle including electric wires dangling or sprawled on the street.

All for what, you ask? Well, simple, road widening because the people with cars need more space. They are more important, of course, they have more capacity to pay for taxes anyway. 

Who is the government really serving?

Mind you these projects were all paid for in full by the same taxes that were supposed to be serving you. Infrastructure that was meant to make it easier for you to get around. The irony is lost on the same people you vote into office.

The government, both old and new, makes it convenient for the rich to get their way. Bar none. The rich sometimes fight among themselves in getting better footing over the other to secure their wealth, sure, but when a common hurdle gets in their way, money definitely talks in many ways to keep everyone else inconvenienced.

Here we are watching it slowly unfold without a peep.

Mabuhay, Manila. 

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Life in Baguio: 3 Weeks Since Lockdown | Metro Ex Makina 9th April 2020 at 10:52 am

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