Makati madness

Compared to other urban areas within greater Metro Manila, Makati City – or at least its central business district – is clean, organized, and well-planned, making it the Philippines’ Little Singapore, without the ubiquitous cameras, the staid Singaporeans, and Lee Kuan Yew.
Despite the vigorous enthusiasm by which traffic laws are enforced in the country’s financial capital – a characteristic shared by the Asian city-state – many people still prefer to congregate in Makati City, with the hopelessly mistaken notion that working, shopping, dining, hanging out, and even living in the area is sophisticated.
It’s not: it’s just plain expensive.
The outrageous amount of what it costs you to do anything in Makati – use the pay toilet facilities, for instance, to expel the solid and liquid remains of that third cup of latté – is the price of the illusion that allows you to give off an air of wealth and sophistication.
Fortunately, this kind of air doesn’t contribute to global warming.
If it did, politically-correct, holier-than-thou, backyard-composting environmental activists would be all over Greenbelt calling for its closure while stinking up the whole place since organic deodorant is not available at their local cooperative.
Unfortunately, thanks to this self-sustaining Makati illusion, the city has attracted tourists of all stripes and sizes, tastes and inclinations.
In the process, it has also accommodated loud and tacky Filipinos, a category which cuts across economic classes and can be found in other countries, aping the locals and irritating the hell out of other people.
Products of stupid parents and the absence of a law legalizing abortion, these flashy individuals can also be found trolling Makati’s malls, exuding various degrees of pretension and self-importance, fiddling their expensive cellphones with thunderous ringing tones that can wake up the dead.
This, among others, explains why I avoid going to Makati City as much as possible.
But then again, it’s not as if that I have any choice in the matter.
Just like everyone else who needs to make a living – or at least until something better comes along – I put in the usual eight-hour routine in Makati, risking encounters with the usual set of drones, flacks, suits, and sell-outs found in every other financial capital.
And as soon as my work is done, I head for the door immediately, eager to resume my life which lies outside the Philippines’ business district.

(This was written in August 2007, when I worked in Makati. I remain grateful I don’t do so now. Photo from Wikipedia, contributed, uploaded, and released to the public domain by Eternal Dragon. Thanks, friend. )

Censored thoughts on the Makati prayer rally

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I WAS supposed to write something utterly serious and totally incendiary—a blog entry demanding that certain segments of the population, including the military, should already move to lessen—temporarily or otherwise—the Arroyo government’s hold on political power.
Except that I didn’t say it in those words.
And I am not about to clarify what I mean, citing various rights to protect myself, including my reputation as a person who, depending on circumstances, occasionally lacks the courage of his convictions.
According to a friend of mine—a left-leaning, human-rights lawyer-slash-advocate—had I expressed my anti-government sentiments clearly and publicly, the Arroyo regime may go through the trouble of filing criminal charges against me, especially with the renewed vigor of a Justice Secretary who got himself a new kidney.
But then again, I may be thinking too highly of myself.
After all, I can hardly be called a dissident.
I stop at red lights, I fall in line, and I shower twice a day, although I have forgotten to brush my teeth.
I am not about to disclose my true feelings about this whole state of affairs, at least not in this blog, which is still considered public, despite its few visitors.
So, instead of risking what may yet appear to be a serious lapse in my judgement, in so far as blogging is concerned, I decided to sublimate my so-called fiery passions and participate in last Friday’s Makati rally.
At the last moment, my wife later agreed to join me, since she considered it a good time as any to visit Makati, a city which she only gets to see less than six times a year, if at all (not necessarily a bad thing).
Suffice it to say that there are better ways of spending a Friday payday than attending a Makati prayer rally with a multitude of people.
Except that we both agreed to put up with the inconvenience and the extra expense of going to the Philippines’ premier financial hub, if only to show our solidarity with people who believe, as we do, that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should be removed from office.
During our short stay at the corner of Ayala and Paseo de Roxas, we even coughed up P100 for a whistle and a sticker calling for transparency and accountability in the whole fraud-tainted, overpriced national broadband agreement. Proceeds from the sticker sale would go to a sanctuary fund currently used for the day to day expenses of Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, a witness who claims that Comelec Commissioner Benjamin Abalos will earn some $130 million in return for services rendered.
We remain doubtful that our measly financial contribution and
our participation in the rally would, in any way, help convince Arroyo to step down.
But as Filipinos who intend to see a better country—a Philippines run by right-thinking, articulate, intelligent, professional men and women—we will continue to aid those struggling for good government, no matter how bleak nor desperate it has now become.

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Photo above shows my friends selling stickers and whistles for Lozada’s sanctuary fund during the Makati rally Friday.