Saturday, July 09, 2005

Petition for urban renewal

Guys, this is about that petition for an urban renewal to be done pronto to Baguio-- it was passed on to me but I didn't add my signature to it.

I wish you and all those who signed that petition all the luck. Pluck too.

The big catch is, "Where in hell or any similar place are we dumping off the way too excess populace that's now choking the gills out of Baguio?"

Nowhere.

I'm thinking of a similar story of a city slowly going to seed. I grew up in an idyllic Quezon City. It was a time when rice paddies, carabao wallows, and fruit orchards ran rampant in the city's not-so-urban inner sections. West Avenue was a howling cogonal then; Commonwealth Avenue was a dead-end dirt road that led to Quezon's pipe dream of a National Government Center that was to become the National Squatters Haven from which crime and sob stories ooze from to fill in every tabloid's Metro section.

The stretch of Morato Ave. was once known as Sampaloc Avenue and it hosted a genteel neighborhood, each homelot a good spread of 500 square meters or so, girdled by barbed wire and a stand of kakawate trees that bloom like sakura in summer while the avenue had a saraband of tamarind trees lining both sides like stalwarts.

Too, I spent a part of my boyhood years under the looming shadow of Mount Arayat, crossing a raging river come monsoon season to seek out fighting spiders. That same river was eviscerated and quarried in the 1970s, its precious hoard of smooth pebbles and sand hauled off. It became an ugly pockmark patch of earth. I can only remember its serene but raging beauty...

In the same vein, I remember the bluish tinge of Baguio's crowning stand of pines in the 1960s. These days, rust has settled on the stray stand of pine trees-- the air isn't that nippy and reeking of pine needles anymore.

Where's the problem? We have a huge problem with the quality, certainly not the quantity of our population. We have quantity alright.

Oh, I've had an idea down pat in a slim book that somebody hectored me to write at something like P100 per manuscript page. Place a person anywhere-- a person who considers himself a gem will muster a lapidarist's ways and wiles to conjure a piece of jewelry out of that place in which he becomes the crowning jewel. A hundred of such gems will transform a community into a treasure chest. Millions of such gems will morph an entire city into a blinding precious showcase...

Millions of such precious stones will transform the entire country into, say "Crown Jewel of the Pacific."

I'm afraid most of our people consider themselves garbage. Anywhere they're plunked down becomes a dumpsite, a stinking shithole... consoling themselves with the thought, "May pera sa basura."

Expletives deleted.

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