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. )