Faces of a Newborn City

Part of commuting is the chance, should you choose to take it, to observe the places that you travel by. When you choose to do so, you get to catch a glimpse of the community that you happen to go past.

You get to form an opinion of the city or town you are in. How much progress is it experiencing these days? How far is this town to becoming a city? How developed is this city? What type of place is this?

You get to have a glimpse of the people in the community. You get to see people going about their daily businesses. People going to and fro, trying to get by their lives. And sometimes, get an idea of the personalities of a few people in the community.

The amount of observation you can get will, naturally, depend on the speed of your ride and the number of stops. Of course, first impressions can be wrong.

I was in a cab this afternoon trying to get from a university to a bus terminal. As mostly is the case, I was staring out trying to make think myself of something besides the ones that are already in my head.

Before we got to the bus terminal, the cab passed by a construction site. I’ve been in that place before. I remembered that area to once be a plaza. But this time, there was nothing more than an odd, pointed obelisk in the middle of the square surrounded by unfinished, unidentifiable, would-be decorations.

There must be a renovation going on. True enough, when the cab rounded the corner, it was there. A huge tarp depicting the artist’s image of what will be the new city plaza. It will be beautiful. The square will be divided into four corners by paved footpaths. In the intersection of these paths will be the obelisk surrounded by elevated flower patches. There will be more flowers and grass in every corner. A most noticeable change over the old plaza which had trees scattered around the square, food stalls in the sidelines, and benches put in no observable pattern.

It makes you want to think, “Progress has definitely touched this city. Not a long time ago, they have upgraded the town hall into a city hall. Now, they are ‘beautifying’ their city square.”

But before I can think of all that, my ride has ended. I had to transfer to the bus so I can get back to my place. A few minutes of waiting, then the bus moved.

It was a rather slow movement as an argument started between the dispatchers and conductors. The bus had to stop.

When I stared out, the noise from behind me was almost drowned out by the silent camp a few meters away from me, not over three kilometers away from the city square that is currently undergoing renovation – according to the tarp, it was funded by the local government.

These people, a man, two women, a little girl, and a little boy, apparently, homeless, have chosen to make camp behind the low fence that separates the bus terminal from the road. I thought they were hoping that they can get more supplies from this area as the terminal is just next to the public market without even a wall or fence to separate them.

Of course, you can think that I may have misjudged and that they may be a traveling group but traveling crews do not lay or sit in cardboards, wearing soiled clothing, without even a tarpaulin over their heads.

Maybe I didn’t have to be surprised as even older cities have street people in them. But I still can’t help from questioning why it has to be like so.

Does the government really not care about these people? Do the people who are in power see these kinds of people as lower forms of life that renovating a plaza is more important? Can’t these so-called ‘representatives’ see them or have they chosen to go blind so as to get the request for the town to be made into a city approved and, thus, get a bigger funding for their ‘city’ that they can soon pocket?

How is it that in the face of the so-called ‘progress’, there seems to be a highly overlooked surface?

Education by the Numbers (via Shai Reshef’s Blog)

“Education is a right, not a privilege.”

And I absolutely agree with that statement. The statistics tells us otherwise but there are things we can do to change that.

How many people do you know who are pursuing higher education? Chances are your answer will largely depend on where you live. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 70% of potential students in the U.S. attend a higher education institution, in comparison to only 6% in Sub-Saharan Africa. These numbers are a blatant sign of a failed system. In short, they indicate that your socio-economic status and geographic location determines wheth … Read More

via Shai Reshef’s Blog

Legal Ignorance: So Not Bliss

It’s been almost two weeks since the hostage-taking incident, staged by former police officer Rolando Mendoza, at the Quirino Grandstand occurred. However, the issue is still far from losing attention. People are still waiting for its real conclusion while the police forces are still doing investigations. China is still waiting for a sound and believable result before allowing the Philippines’ high-level delegation to enter their country.

At the same time, the approval rating of Pres. Noynoy Aquino continues to go down. People have been criticizing his actions during the tragic day: not answering calls, seemingly hiding. People are saying that he could have done something so as not to lead the event to a tragic end.

For the last few days, I have been questioning those who are questioning the president as to what he could have possibly done in a military operation. Apparently, I have been wrong.

I have learned from high school that the President of the Republic of the Philippines is also recognized as the Commander-in-Chief of the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines.

But my opening lecture this morning on the Philippine Constitution this morning taught me what exactly being a commander-in-chief means. I was very wrong in my understanding as to how much power this vests on a person.

Maybe I was just too naive, but, apparently, Pres. Aquino could’ve simply talked to the hostage taker and try to have a compromise with him for the release of the hostages. It should not have been a wonder why the hostage-taker thought of the ombudsman’s letter as trash.

But I don’t have anything against Pres. Aquino. Maybe, like I was, he didn’t know how much power he had in his hands – which can be a good thing. In the first place, he did not want to be president. Or so he said. Just to quote my professor, “He knew it in himself that he was not ready to be president.”

Of course, Filipinos have that certain trait of being captivated by fame and judging people simply according to lineage.

I can’t blame, however, blame Pres. Aquino for not knowing the extent of his powers. Besides, it’s a given that he wasn’t able to do much while he was in the senate. Given that, we cannot possibly expect him to know more than enough.

One thing, though: he needs to do his homework.