By JULLIE Y. DAZA
If you were Mayor Isko Moreno, where do you begin?
A true-blue Manileno, a genuine Tondo boy who knows the city from the ground up, garbage dumps included, he’s got a lot on his plate or, shall we say, in his trash bin. But it’s a disservice to connect so much of the “basura” image to Isko. With outgoing Mayor Erap having said his piece and Fred Lim packing for a vacation away from Manila with his family, Isko is lucky that he has a template to follow, sort of. He has President Duterte’s cleanup of Boracay and Manila Bay to guide him as soon as he rolls up his sleeves: The key is political will. The City of Manila aches for a cleanup, top to bottom, inside City Hall and all around it. Malate, Quiapo, Sampaloc, Sta. Cruz. Crime. Dirt. Squalor. Traffic caused by stubborn people, not lack of road space. A dying city, as noted by a former mayor of Davao City.
The old charm of the city is gone, lost in the morass of political, moral, social, environmental and aesthetic corruption. I use the word not in a fiscal sense but in its primary sense of rotting, putrid. A balikbayan could not believe her eyes when we passed through the “palengke” area of the inner city as directed by Ms. Waze one fine day: “Has the city come to this? So ugly.”
City Hall to blame, the barangays and their chieftains, residents and transients? I told my friend, Manila is not alone. She nodded, “I know what you mean. But Manila is the capital of the Phililppines!”
Remember that, Mayor Isko. Manila is the capital, if that should count for something. While new population centers are rising, branching out to Laguna, Clark, and elsewhere pinpointed by developers with foresight, you may want to consult an urban planner whose abilities you could trust. Incoming Senator Francis Tolentino took a course in urban planning in London (if memory serves). Jun Palafox designed the city of Dubai, whose Emir had the wisdom to plant a million trees to bring down the desert temperatures.
The job of renewing Manila is herculean, like cleaning out the Augean stables and Sisyphus condemned to roll a rock up the mountain as it kept rolling down again. But you asked for it, so let’s go!