I found this rather disturbing pronouncement on a tarp by the Quezon City hall announcing that Herbert Bautista has recently been chosen as the president of the League of the Cities of the Philippines.
While much of the last five years of my life happened in this bustling city of almost three million, I regret to say that I have not developed any fondness for the place. Sure, I love UP, its trees, and its dark, momol-ready corners, but my nostalgia ends when my memory wanders past University Avenue into Philcoa, where urban sprawl is at its worst.
Okay I take it back, the worst part of Metro Manila for me is still Pasay Rotonda.
But Philcoa, Cubao, SM North, and any of Quezon City’s major intersections are not far behind. Their roads and sidewalks (if not overrun yet by vendors) are grimy and dangerous. In college I dreaded having to stay late in Katipunan for org meetings because that meant braving a two-minute trek up Cubao’s footbridges and dodging leers from pimps and prostitutes.
Maybe it didn’t seem so far-fetched to QC government officials to make such a pronouncement. After all, they are one of the country’s largest cities in terms of large area, income, and population. In its Wikipedia page, QC is described as being the “wealthiest” city in the country.
Well I don’t know about that. Certainly all that wealth hasn’t translated into effective urban planning and management. QC is always in the news for demolitions of slum areas. You’d have thought that with its Php14-billion revenue collection last year (seven times that of my home city Muntinlupa), QC would’ve managed to provide decent housing for its homeless people. Instead all I see everyday are waiting sheds in varying colors and degrees of dilapidation carrying politicians’ names, most conspicuous of which is “Belmonte.”
Quezon City is hardly a model city for the rest of the country to follow. A model city for me would be one where people ride their bikes to work and school, and not carry them on the back of their pickup trucks and SUVs, one where there are adequately equipped public libraries, one where the centerpiece of urban development is not a mall but a well-maintained public park.
In short, one that we have yet to build and develop in our own country.