A Letter to President Duterte: Don’t Forget Manila

Dear Mr. President,

Cacao Culture

On any normal day, I try not to voice out my opinion on anything political. But when I remembered one of your speeches late last year declaring Manila to be “dead in 25 years”, I found myself asking – how can a city teeming with life be branded like this?

Of course, some of you may be wondering – it’s a little too late to react now. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to start a rally or go on a hate-filled rant. I just want to remind him of one simple thing – Manila is not dead. From foreign visitors entering the country to people coming from the provinces hoping to catch a break, the influx of life coming into the metropolis never ends.

Yes, Manila does have its fair share of problems. After all, the city has been plagued for years with crime, heavy traffic, flooding, and pollution. I’ve experienced everything I’ve mentioned including having my wallet snatched while inside a jeep (twice!), waiting for hours in a bus to get home, and wading through floodwater during the typhoon season. But despite all these issues, Manila hasn’t shown me any signs of going into a full-fledged collapse. In fact, I’d argue it’s quite the opposite.

Nowadays, real estate development is flourishing with condominiums and residential communities being built all around the metro. I can attest to this since I’ve seen how things have improved during my daily commute to work. My usual bus ride to Makati gives me a good view of how areas like Guadalupe, Boni and EDSA Central have progressed. Guadalupe, for example was once teeming with informal settlers, but today that area is now being prepped for development. Boni and EDSA Central, formerly known for shoddy commercial establishments, and are now being primed for the rise of condominium residences and business centers.

Even the area where I live is being developed. Aside from real estate, vacant lots have been replaced by malls. Remember that empty lot beside Renaissance Tower? That’s now the new Ayala 30th Mall. The old Rizal Municipal Hall has also been replaced with Capitol Commons, a community that offers a mix of commercial and residential properties in one locale. Cities such as Mandaluyong and Taguig have experienced respective surges in prime residential communities being developed over the last 10-20 years. Makati continues to grow into a world-class city with its trendy districts outside of the business area. The future has certainly arrived, and Manila is the front door.

In terms of business, many companies still prefer to set up offices here in Manila because the business capital of the country is located here. Since the 1960s, Makati has been recognized as the center of Manila’s financial hub where most of the major companies hold office, including the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the recent efforts of the government in developing other areas outside Manila such as Laguna, Clark, Davao, and even Cebu. These places will continue to serve as viable alternatives for companies and people looking for other locations to set up shop or settle down. But take a stroll in Makati, Ortigas, Bonifacio Global City, and the U.P.-Ayala Techno Hub, and you’ll agree that we still have the upper hand.

Manila may be known to the world as the capital of the Philippines and the center of the country’s financial, education, and transportation sectors, but to me it’s simply home.  I’ve been living here for more than 30 years and nothing beats the life that flows through this city both during the day and especially at night. Again, just like I said earlier Mr. President, I love how you’ve set your sights on developing other places in the country. After all, their success is our success. I also understand the necessity for decentralization, but please remember that Manila is not just a pile of steel and rocks, it’s also home to millions of Filipinos who – just like me – would like to let you know that Manila is still worth saving.


A Proud Manileño

This post was submitted by Sandro (real name withheld at his request), an avid reader of Flying Ketchup.

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One Comment

  1. Hi. Well said. But I think what the President is referring to is not Metro Manila but the old Manila. Quiapo, Tondo, Rizal ave stretch, Malate etc. These places have deteriorated much.

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