8.02.2005

deep and wide


There is no limit to what you can accomplish, as long as you are prepared to wait." Freeman Dyson

Maynila is at least 500 years old. By the time the Spanish got there in 1570, Maynila was already a thriving city with a population of 4,000.

As Stewart Brand puts it, "cities persist." Barring major natural cataclysms, Manila will still be here 450 years from now. The government's form, the shape of geopolitics, will be as similar and as different as Rajah Sulayman's court is from the current administration in Malacanang. The city's built fabric in 2450 will be shaped by the decisions we make now.

While it is easy to become frustrated by the current politics, long term vision and long term leadership means we must consider the future now. Ergo the title of this blog. In another hundred years, Arroyo, de Venecia, Cam, Estrada and the whole cast of characters will all be footnotes. Metro Manila will persist. In what form and in what condition depends on our current imagination of the horizon we have yet to see.
image credit: Maria Madonna Davidoff, cover art for "The West and the World"

10 comments:

Ian said...

That's an extragavant picturesque painting of Intramuros. Nice find. I can't remember if I saw her gallery exhibit in Megamall just this year. Good enough that she is Filipino on known in different European countries.

"Democracy can withstand anything but democrats" -J. Harshaw
here's a quote that can go along with that footnote.

ed said...

Beautiful painting indeed. As depicted in the watercolor, Manila looks like a a very clean and green place by the sea. It still is, I guess. One out of three isn't that bad. Kidding, just a bit of course.

batchmate said...

How can citizens make sure that urban plans remain sacrosanct? Immune from the political expediency of any administration that chooses to subvert its milestones?

Urbano dela Cruz said...

by instituting consultative processes. and requiring public participation

then of course, vigilance is required after that

if the people are organized, then they will be vigilant

Urbano dela Cruz said...

try visiting http://www.charretteinstitute.org/

Ivan ManDy said...

Hi Urbano,

That stylized painting of Intramuros is erroneous, how Binondo church be there when its across the Pasig in Chinatown? ;o)

Sadly, whatever impressions people have of the 'Manila of yesteryears' (or Pearl of the Orient or Old Manila) which, in most cases is Intramuros, has-for the past 50 years- been miscontrued.

The current identity of Intramuros is a postwar one and except of San Agustin church, a lot of what people think as historic architecture (the houses) are post war kistch...well, maybe for some faithful reconstructions (the Walls).

When people marvel at some of the 'period' houses of the Walled City, I can only sigh at this skewed version of history. Is this what we're passing down to the next generation?

Urbano dela Cruz said...

Hi IvanM,

I chose the painting precisely because of its mismashed and idealized representation. As Kevin Lynch (Image of the City) says "There seems to be a public image of any given city which is the overlap of many individual images. Or perhaps there is a series of public images, each held by some significant number of citizens."

Which is why I wholly appreciate the work you and Carlos are doing -i.e. changing people's mental images of the city.

I think we have always failed in our attempts to revive Intramuros because we have approached it as an archaelogial artifact and a tourist destination rather than a city where people live and work and play. So we pay attention to dressing it up (pretending houses are old) rather than making it livable. We put tourists first, rather than the occupants. So it's all window dressing, not paradigm shifting. (-oops. sorry to use that hackneyed term.)

We should look at integrating its economy (and by that I mean the jobs and work of the people who live in the city) with the rest of the metropolis -while keeping faithful to its historicity.

Ivan ManDy said...

Very well said Mr. Urabano. Which is why I think Mr. MayniLA's
'Buhayin ng Maynila' needs more than snazzy streetlights, retiled pedestrian streets or paint jobs to sustain itself in the future. Its a good start of course but if Avenida Rizal will want to regain its 'former glory'(as trumpted by Mr. MayniLA himself), it will have to make itself as competitive as Mr.Sy's suburban SM malls(w/c if you ask me is like pitting a mouse with an elephant)
For sure, there are other ways of reviving Avenida Rizal (as a wholesale emporia to decongest Divisoria maybe?) but the Mr. MayniLA has already started with the shopping (read: tourist) trend. Let's wait and see the results after a few years...

Urbano dela Cruz said...

i agree Atienza's programs are a good start - at least there is some thinking going on about urban planning and design.

I don't think avenida needs to compete with SM - given manila's density (45K to 65K people/sq.km) there is enough people to keep the avenida economy going. divisoria is living proof -- it is STILL the most expensive real estate in the city.

Avenida shouldn't pretend to be SM or Glorietta though. It should take it's cues from Barcelona's Las Ramblas or Porto Alegre's Largo Glênio Peres (Brazil).

Ivan ManDy said...

What I meant by Avenida Rizal competing with SM is that it has to have critical mass(try going to SM on an ordinary day) - enough for it being a 'tambayan' or one-stop shopping place like the Las Ramblas in Barcelona or Nanjing Road in Shanghai.

Unfortunately, the way I see it, SM has changed one generation's shopping habits that businesses along Avenida Rizal would need to strategize(BIG TIME) or niche themselves to compete with 2 SM malls within a span of 5 kilometers of its radius- city hall branch and a new one in the former San Lazaro race track. Its hard to compete with a modern shopping complex (w/ air conditioning to boot!) as opposed to old style street walking.

The only reason why Divisoria is thriving is because it was and still is the wholesale trading center of the country. Mr. MayniLA should do well and pedestrianize that whole shopping mecca.

As for Avenida,Ive walked down the road many times and noticed that, despite the sprucing up and bigger open spaces, the establishments there dont seem to attact critical mass - well, maybe just one segment of the economic society - but definitely unlike those that what you see daily at SM (or any mall for that matter).

Hmmm, Im just thinking, would it be better if it turned out to be a mixed-development site(Im sure that the government will not be able to pull this) Just got me wondering, had the private sector pumped money into this, would it have turned out more sustaining in the long term...?

Easier said than done of course.

P.S. I accidentally deleted your post at the La Salle feature of my site. Apologies.

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