Thousands of people flock to Metro Manila thinking this is the land of milk and honey in the Philippines. That could be relatively true. Admittedly, I acknowledge the fact that this place is where I got my sustenance, it is where I met wonderful people who I became friends with, and it is where I learned to appreciate what little I have. This place, while seemingly offering tons of opportunities, is also where limited opportunities rest.
The hot weather. The weather here got to me the moment I stepped out of the bus. It is far warmer than I expected. Coming from a city where the weather is significantly cooler, I got my first shot of irritation when I felt like I was going to be the first victim of spontaneous human combustion. I’m alive.
The heavily polluted air. My first breath of Manila’s oxygen occurred during the summer of 2007. Well, I dropped off at Cubao where different types of vehicles gracefully emit their exhaust as they sped along EDSA. I thought I saw black when I glanced around. True enough, the first booger I’ve had is black. Gross.
The dirty streets. There are street cleaners who kept on cleaning what other people carelessly throw along the streets. Cigarette butts, the classic and infamous gum, pieces of candy wrappers and paper, plastic bottles, tissue papers, and so on. Name it and I’ve seen it. I even saw people who were decent enough to spit and urinate on the streets. That’s just great.
The crowded streets. In Manila, you can’t afford to suddenly stop on your tracks lest a lot of sweaty bodies will bump on you. At least that serves as a push to keep you moving. But there is more to bumping than the missing apologies and the irritating feeling of, well, getting bumped. This place is seriously getting crowded. I am one of those who crowd its streets. You are right; it needs de-congestion.
The worsening noise pollution. I first realized how noisy this place is after I got out of the bus that summer. It was something I was not accustomed to. The buses are speeding by with their horns blowing as if they’re on the Grand Prix. Cabs and private cars are engaged in an unspoken battle of who the king of the street is. And the most irritating of all: jeepney drivers who play loud music that I needed to scream to tell them where I’m going. Oh, the music they play sucks too.
People without values. Yes, there is a very significant opportunity for values reformation in this place. People just point their fingers and argue with each other for petty things like a missing penny. Others deliberately break the rules and get mad when someone in authority calls their attention to it. I am even predicting that this place will be the forerunner of insensitivity and indifference because all you ever hear is “Wala akong pakialam! (I don’t care!).”
Cab drivers who swindle. Imagine my horror when the first taxi I rode on did not give the right change when I got off. Others are good enough to take advantage by driving you around town when they know you are not familiar with the area. On top of it, they request additional fare because of the slow traffic. Duh! As if traffic is smooth in this place. What stupid justifications. May their souls rest in peace – now and forever.
People who charge for unwanted services. Yes, I take the cab most of the time. You probably know why already. And in most cases, I come across people who come asking if I’m waiting for a cab. Naturally, I tell them so. So they do the noble thing: they set out, hail a taxi, and charge for it. While I admire the resourcefulness, I don’t take pity on the fact that when I hail a cab myself, I’ll get my ride. So no, thank you. I shall not pay.
Insensitive neighbors and motorcycle drivers. If only people can hear me, I could have made a lot of enemies. First, consider yourself lucky to live in an apartment building or a condominium. What if you end up renting a place with a noisy neighbor and you can’t sleep just like me? What if almost daily, you hear the karaoke come to life with someone who cannot even carry a decent tune? What if your neighbors just quip and tell you to go live in a quiet subdivision if you do not like how noisy they are? Second, as I’m writing this, I have counted six motorcycles that sped by with the noisiest sound. I always think about how they should get a Harley if they plan to speed loudly like that. As if having a motorcycle is envious enough. And really, it’s not a Harley. Goodness.
FM stations who talk more than they play music. Picture how an FM station follows the format of an AM station. To this day, I can’t really understand how a station that is supposed to play music resembles a talk show. Oh, DJs talk nonsense. And worst of all, the only station that I ever listened to (NU ROCK FM) changed their format to become just like the others. It sucks to know that the mass market is influential to even drive this kind of change.
Clearly, and I would like to emphasize it, this place needs values reformation. It is a shame that this region is the center of governance and houses the capital city of this country. For a person who arrives for the first time, the place is a disappointment even if the culture is warm. I don’t know about you but that strikes me as odd because when culture is rich, values should be acceptable. Where is culture in these things? These are not mine. Your comments are welcome. 🙂