“Where Quezon City goes, the Philippines follows”

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.

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2 thoughts on ““Where Quezon City goes, the Philippines follows”

  1. Hi blogger!

    Thank you for this post! Reading the title, I can say I had it coming. Quezon City has a lot to offer Metro Manila. It’s the city of stars, not just persons but stars sprawled on the floor, i.e. Eastwood City. Maybe let us stop belittling what QC can do.

    I happen to pass by Manila during the last few days and the transition along Mabuhay Rotondo is much like the transition of an Australopithecus to a superhuman. Manila is going towards further mess nowadays while Quezon City is rising.

    Try visiting the QC memorial circle one weekend and see how complete the city is. No kite fliers maybe, but QC is on its way to greatness. Trust me.

    • This is not belittling QC! Our former capital sure has a lot to offer residents and non-residents alike, but such a pronounce from its city government merits this discussion! While massive urban uplift is needed not just in QC, but all over Metro Manila, QC doesn’t seem to be leading the way.

      Manila, of course, is another story altogether! Don’t they say that it’s literally sinking back to the sea a few centimeters each year?

      I’ve been in the QC circle several times already, but in my opinion Rizal Park in Manila is still a better park. Manila, while more densely populated, is still the more pedestrian-friendly of the two.

      In any case, our cities–including my home city–still need lots of improvement. We should all do our part in making them more livable!

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