make-up and schizophrenia

Commentary on three news items:

  1. MMDA kicks off P100M "facelift" of Metro Manila "investor corridors". (Also featured in this article from Star and a month ago in this article from INQ7.)
  2. The SC bars MMDA from tearing down billboards along the MRT.
  3. Congress updates the rent control law.

Item 1: Cosmetic changes don't last very long
From the Star article:
"The President defined these corridors as the "routes that investors pass all the time when they are thinking of whether they should invest in the Philippines" and the "routes that creditors pass all the time when they are thinking whether we have the ability to pay our debts."

From the latest INQ7 article:
"The general idea here is not to cover up, but to open the areas for commerce," Fernando said.
One idea is to convert sidewalks into parking areas, he said.

Much as I appreciate any work done to improve the city, P100M could go a long way to making substantial changes in the life of the city. This approach sounds so wholly cosmetic -and caters to investors riding in cars. -- Why not actually improve the livability of the city along the routes?

Change sidewalks to parking!!! Please! Hasn't the President or BF learned anything from their visits to other cities? Streetlife is what makes a city attractive -NOT parking.

Item 2: You want to change the look of the city? Start with the billboards.

What exactly does this scene say? Come invest in our city because we don't care what it looks like as long as you can advertise on it? (Thanks to Carlos' post)

We've got to begin respecting everyone who lives in the city -providing them a city worth living in and not spend our money on make-up trying to whore ourselves to investors -or to advertisers.

Investors are not dumb -they go to where business makes sense -and right now business makes sense where there is available talent -and available talent seems to like settling in very livable cities.

(I'm not against outdoor advertising, as long as it's outdoor advertising that respects the city.)

Item 3: Doing what's popular vs. doing what's right

I know rent control is well-intentioned. It's also very popular. It also prevents redevelopment by not allowing land-owners to earn capital -or by not making it worth investing in improving property.

There are plenty of studies on the market-distorting effects of rent-control. Many show that it actually makes the housing market worse for the those who can afford the least. (See one commentary from Paul Krugman here.)

We need a sensible policy for housing, one that will provide for those who can afford the least, and yet encourage re-investment in our cities.

(OK. So I pontificated on this post. Maybe it's sleep deprivation.)

ADDED: One hour later

Can someone please help me put up the money to bring Enrique Penalosa to Metro Manila for a lecture? He should have a full audience with GMA, BF and all the Metro Manila Mayors.


Peter said...

I like your thoughts on the Advertising issue. Why isn't there a law controlling these? Maybe there should be restrictions to height, size and even of the areas where these giant billboards are placed?

Urbano dela Cruz said...


I know Miriam Defensor has filed a senate resolution banning billboards on major thoroughfares. I'm not sure of the status of the resolution.

Scenic America has some model regulations (word .doc file) for billboard control.

Sidney said...

I don't understand those politicians.
I remember that some time ago there was a gathering of delagates from around the world here in Manila.
I was shocked to see that they were building a temporary screen along the railway tracks to hide the squatters. I think the money could have been used for better things.
It makes me think of those Potemkin Villages in Russia!

I will not comment on the idea to change sidewalks into parkings.
Are you sure BF said that!? It sounds too crazy to be true!

Urbano you have still a lot of work to do here!

Anonymous said...

Really making a difference.

Perhaps, there's a way for Filipinos in Bogota -- U.P. Business Alum to get the Bogota mayor to connect with Congressman from Manila, Lopez.

If there's a request from Manila, then perhaps, there's a better chance to get him there or at least
find the right connections to do so.

Share ideas.

It would be something but the connections are there if the
parties are open.

I can get you names for both...

ka-klase ni ganito ganoon,
tatay si ganito ganoon.

Hanapan lang ng connection

Sino-sino ba sila? Baka the Lopez
clan may be a good bet to get a second opinion. I don't think
the incumbent would like to be told
what are the other possibilities since they already know everything.

Sabihan mo ako if you'd like to
get some traction to your idea.


1. Atienza, Joselito Jr. (LP) — 455,302

2. Lopez, Gemiliano (KNP) — 219,580

Vice Mayor

1. Lacuna, Danilo (KNP) — 380,758

2. Bagatsing, Don (LP) — 272,118

Congressman (District 1)

1. Nieva, Ernesto (LP) — 120,570

2. Quirante, Rodolfo (KNP)

Congressman (District 2)

1. Lopez, Jaime (KNP) — 46,495

2. Lacson, Marlon (LP) — 43,980

Congressman (District 3)

1. Roces, Miles (LP) — proclaimed

2. Angping, Harry (NPC-KNP) disqualified

Congressman (District 4)

1. Bacani, Rodolfo (LP) — 56,713

2. Bagatsing, Manuel (KNP) — 42,659

Congressman (District 5)

1. Hizon, Joey — 65,524

2. Atienza, Alejandro — 56,952

Congressman (District 6)

1. Abante, Bienvenido Jr. — 41,241

2. Ocampo, Rosenda Ann — 33,146

Urbano dela Cruz said...


Installing "aesthetically pleasing" barriers to hide shantytowns is not new to the country. In her day, Imelda walled squatter colonies with concrete fences and put in fancy archways as entrances. They proved to be disastrous as the archways were too small for firetrucks.

I'd like to see a creative policy approach that perhaps expropriates the land under squatter colonies and then turns it around and provides incentives to redevelopment -provided that the new development has inclusionary zoning and provides low-rent housing units (subsidized by rents from commercial or retail establishments and more middle market housing units). -And accomodating as many of the original informal settlers in the affordable housing units as possible.


Kim Atienza is actually a friend of mine from college. Please do send me other contacts.

I do think bringing Penalosa to Manila is something a private group or a non-profit should do (rather than government or elected officials). I have Penalosa's contact details and am trying to work with people from the Asian Institute of Management, ADB, and Ayala Land to put together a conference/rountable sometime in the future.

(If there are people (or organizations) out there who are willing to volunteer time and effort to this project, please email me.)

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